As photographers we all know the challenges of shooting at night or in low light conditions. We need a tripod, we need to bump up the ISO, we need a “fast” lens (one with large aperture to take in more light). But I won’t delve on a tutorial on night photography, there are lots of sites that provide that. Instead let us focus on capture and composition, still with churches as subjects but taken at night.
The two images are of the Cebu Cathedral, the one above was taken last year while that below was taken several years earlier. The Cebu Cathedral has an expansive facade, so unless you have a wide angle lens you have to move way back to capture its entire front. Capturing it up front however gives you a singular, non-dimensional perspective unlike when taking a picture of it from one side. In the above photo, slanted lines give you an idea of the structure’s dimension – it is large and wide. A technique to show size and dimension is to include people or a person as reference. Note the size of the woman entering the main door. The sheer size and grandeur of the Cebu Cathedral, splendid in golden light, are emphasized. If ever there is a tinge of light remaining in the sky such as the dusk scene below you can still capture silhouette images. I was fortunate that the lamps in the front courtyard were already lighted hence providing me an appropriate foreground.
I have mentioned several times in previous posts that photography is the art of observation. Look before you shoot. You may be afforded just seconds to observe in action situations and moving subjects, so you have to be fast with your eye and finger combination. With churches and other static, immobile subjects you have all the time in the world to assess, plan and observe before you ever press that shutter. In other words, walk around, find angles, change perspective, look for details. I recall a quote from a noted photographer who said that one is likely to be rewarded with a great image if he put some planning into that capture and was deliberate with his shot, rather than leaving everything to chance. Oh, I say amen to that!
The first thing I notice in a church from the outside is the belfry, or the bell tower. Since they are usually the tallest part of a church structure, they have that prominence in the overall architectural design underscoring their functional importance. There are churches with dual belfries while others have singular towers. Here are samples of belfry images from my collection: