Heading into Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, my idea was to practice HDR photography on the vaulted ceiling of the church. I had done this once before in Grace Cathedral, and also in other churches, such as the Cathedral in Chartres, France (shown here in monochromatic HDR).
Often the best laid plans of photographers “go awry,” which is the best reason I can think of for living one’s life to carpe diem, or to seize the day, which all photographers should do as often as they can. In this case, the interior of Grace Cathedral was taken over by “Graced with Light,” an art installation by Anne Patterson that features some twenty miles of multi-colored ribbons dangling from the church’s ceiling.
Clearly, the image I had envisioned was not going to be possible because the ceiling was hidden by the colorful ribbons. For photographers, right up there with carpe diem is another cliche: if you are given lemons, make lemonade. Another way of thinking of this is to be open to grace, particularly appropriate in Grace Cathedral when confronted with “Graced with Light.”
I sat down in a pew, and attached my camera to the tripod. The legs were collapsed, so the tripod was low to the ground. I positioned the camera and tripod in the center of the center aisle, and pointed it up and back towards the rose window above the entrance to Grace Cathedral. I wanted the image to be entirely in focus, so I needed a fair amount of depth-of-field. This implied stopping down (to f/18), which in turn compelled a fairly long duration of time (15 seconds) for the shutter speed.
Still seated in the pew, I tripped the shutter using my intervalometer, and gave thanks for the grace that allows me to see images that interest me and show the beauty of the world, and of places that people hold sacred.
Exposure data: Nikon D800, 28-300mm lens at 28mm, 15 seconds at f/18 and ISO 100, tripod mounted, RAW file multi-processed in Adobe Camera RAW and finished in Photoshop.
Special thanks to Jake, without whom I would not have been at Grace Cathedral to make this image.