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Hollywood, CA October, 2006
This image was taken last September whilst on three week photography trip here in England with a large format photography friend who was over from North Carolina. We both have an interest in photographing churches & cathedrals plus landscape. The ‘Collection Plate’ was in one of the tiny old churches we came across on our travels around the country. My interest in photography in churches arises from their being vast chambers of beautifully lit stone and wood where the light is constantly changing throughout the day as it cuts its way in through high windows. I can photograph anything from the intimate detail such as this collection plate on the brightly lit windowsill to the full drama of the high vaulted ceilings – either in tiny local churches or in the magnificent medieval cathedrals. Hardly any of them are less than 500 to 600 years old so there’s a huge sense of history to take in. I only photograph in natural light which can be a real challenge where subject brightness range in these buildings can often be 15 or more stops. I don’t let that put me off – indeed I like the challenge. My processes (below) allow me to capture detail all the way from the deepest shadows through to the brightest highlights in a single exposure (when will digital be capable of that I wonder?) and make sure it gets into the print too. This print is typical of the brightness range I may need to tackle. The sun blasting the windowsill has still just a hint of detail whilst the deepest shadows show detail too.
It’s possible to photograph unhindered in most of our churches and cathedrals. Most cathedrals charge a photography fee (about £3 to £5) and most churches are happy to accept any donation in the collection box. Where the cathedrals charge a fee they usually stipulate that any photography must not be used for commercial purposes. They want more £££ if there’s a commercial intent. A small number of them forbid all photography, like Durham and Westminster Cathedrals, for reasons which are not clear. Many of the small churches are open to any visitor throughout the week though an increasing number are locked and only accessible by visiting the nearby keyholder.