The Perfect Perspective for Photographing Churches

Mar 8, 2015

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

The Perfect Perspective for Photographing Churches

Mar 8, 2015

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

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Anybody who has visited one of the grandiose churches or cathedrals has come across this problem; how do you photograph the sheer size and magnificence of this holy architecture?

If you capture the chancel, you miss out on the ceiling murals. Try photographing the murals and you’ll probably be giving up on most of the stained glass.

One way to capture as much as possible would be a 360-degree panorama but that will result in a very distorted imaged with some of the most impressive features of the building – the ceiling, murals and unique lighting fixtures, left out of the frame.

Obviously such detail-filled gargantuan structures require an out-of-the-box solution, and this is where travel photographer Richard Silver (previously) and his vertical panoramas come into play.

Richard begins by finding the perfect spot in the center aisle and then he shoots 6-10 photos from the pew, through the ceiling and all the way to the back of the church.

Next, he merges the photos in Photoshop to receive vertical panoramas, with a perspective unique to this style of architecture.

Richard used a Nikon D800 for these photos (though he proudly mentioned that he just picked up a D810) with a Nikon 14-24mm f/2.8 or Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8.

The high-ISO capabilities and wide apertures are important as some churches do not allow tripods. In this case Richards bumps the ISO to the 1600-2000 range.

Despite the low light locations and the occasional tripod ban, Richard told DIYP that the hardest part in capturing these vertical panoramas are the church’s rules and availability:

Quite often I am not even allowed to take photos inside the church, I respect that rule. Many times the church is closed when I get there or only open for services on Sundays. But, sometimes I try and set my tripod up quickly and quietly when I am allowed in to take photos. Sometimes it works, sometimes not… The real hardest thing about shooting churches are if they are open, too many are closed with no real set hours of operation”.

Richard recalls favorably of two churches in New York and one in India where the pastors had opened up specifically for him to take photos, saying It was an extremely nice gesture and effort on their part”.

Holy Trinity, Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)
Holy Trinity, Yangon, Myanmar (Burma)
Augustiner Church, Vienna, Austria
Augustiner Church, Vienna, Austria
St Bartholomew, Brighton, England
St Bartholomew, Brighton, England
St. Insignias, Shanghai, China
St. Insignias, Shanghai, China
Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury, England
Salisbury Cathedral, Salisbury, England
Parrocchia S Maria In Portico Campitelli, Rome, Italy
Parrocchia S Maria In Portico Campitelli, Rome, Italy
Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Bernard, New York, USA
Our Lady of Guadalupe at St. Bernard, New York, USA
St Vincent de Paul, Los Angeles, California, USA
St Vincent de Paul, Los Angeles, California, USA
Cathedral of San Francisco, La Paz, Bolivia
Cathedral of San Francisco, La Paz, Bolivia
Cathedral of Christ our King, Johannesburg, South Africa
Cathedral of Christ our King, Johannesburg, South Africa
Iglesia De La Merceo, Havana, Cuba
Iglesia De La Merceo, Havana, Cuba
Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik, Iceland
Hallgrimskirkja, Reykjavik, Iceland
Holy Name, Mumbai, India
Holy Name, Mumbai, India

Being a travel photographer, Richard, whose times slices have previously been featured on DIYP, is constantly visited new locations around the world. Once he has planned which country he will go to next, he does his research to see which churches in the area are worth visiting.

With no plans to stop travelling anytime soon, you can expect to see more of these awesome vertical panoramas, as well as great “regular” photos, on Richard’s website, Facebook page or Instagram.

[via Bored Panda]

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Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels

Liron Samuels is a wildlife and commercial photographer based in Israel. When he isn’t waking up at 4am to take photos of nature, he stays awake until 4am taking photos of the night skies or time lapses. You can see more of his work on his website or follow him on Facebook.

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7 responses to “The Perfect Perspective for Photographing Churches”

  1. John Frisbie Avatar
    John Frisbie

    nice!

  2. Ralph Hightower Avatar
    Ralph Hightower

    Great photographs. I led a Scott Kelby Worldwide Photo Walk for my local area; I chose Lexington, SC instead of Columbia, SC because of football game day traffic.
    One of the head parishioners of a church in Lexington opened up their doors so that we could photograph the sanctuary.

  3. Chris Cameron Avatar
    Chris Cameron

    I find them hard to view as presented here. Scrolling down the shot makes me feel a little nauseous. They look very cool on Richards site where they are shown small enough to not require scrolling.

    1. Jim Johnson Avatar
      Jim Johnson

      Yeah, I had the same experience. Right clicking and choosing to view the image in its own window really helped. Seeing the whole image at once made them much more beautiful.

  4. Jan Klimes Avatar
    Jan Klimes

    It reminds me one night with several open churches, when I tried to photograph as much as is possible with fisheye lens

    But not from the center of church, but from one side, not to annoy attending people

    http://www.janklimes.com/detail/Litomerice-Noc-kostelu

    and next year in other churches but wit fullframe and 14mm lens

    http://www.janklimes.com/detail/Brnenska-noc-kostelu

  5. Gibson355 Avatar
    Gibson355

    Nice approach and very affective.

  6. Rob S Avatar
    Rob S

    The Brighton church, known to locals as Saint Barts, was where my mother was confirmed.