The dark side

Pilgrim sculpture by Helen Whittaker, Beverley Minster

For the psychologists among us

What haunts us is often the shadow side, the dark side, of our selves.  It appears to us like these figures – dark, faceless, ominous.  Jung believed that we needed to make friends with these shadow selves in order to become whole, and that once faced, they no longer had the power to haunt or frighten us.  More than that, he believed that this shadow self held treasures for us to discover.  If you dare to look into these sculptures in Beverley Minster, you’ll see they contain ‘hearts’, made out of beautifully coloured glass fragments.

For the photographers

Beverley Minster is one of the only cathedrals I’ve been to where they charge you for permission to photograph even if it’s only for personal use.  I felt a bit annoyed by this and wasn’t going to bother initially, but got excited enough when I saw these sculptures (by Helen Whittaker) to walk back up the length of the cathedral to buy a permit.  Because I was excited, I started snapping away without even thinking about settings and the first shots came out over-exposed and blurred.  However, once I’d calmed down enough to set the camera properly, I found that the straight shots didn’t really work and lacked atmosphere.  I went back to deliberately hand-holding during a long exposure and, after a bit of processing, ended up with the image above.  For me it captures the feeling I wanted far better than the ‘correct’ settings ever would have done.  Serendipity is a wonderful thing.



Lincoln Cathedral, part 2

Abstract window, Lincoln Cathedral

This rather strange picture is one of the more adventurous images from my Lincoln Cathedral visit. There was a reflection in some plastic that lay between the black railings and the window, and it produced this rather interesting distortion when photographed.  I’ve shared quite a few photos already of the wonderfully coloured light that streams through the stained glass windows, but in the following few it combines quite interestingly with the rows and rows of plastic chairs set out in the nave.

Chairs 2, Lincoln Cathedral

Chairs, Lincoln Cathedral

Chairs 4, Lincoln Cathedral

Chairs 3, Lincoln Cathedral

The blues and purples in the next image look completely false, but I promise you that’s what it looked like.  I’ve even toned the colours down a little to try and make it look less artificial!

Blue columns, Lincoln Cathedral

I liked the curly pattern of this screen anyway, but curly pattern plus shadows? – love it.

Pattern, Lincoln Cathedral

And finally, this one is more conventional but I liked the way the light – mostly ordinary white light this time – played on the stones and the inscription.

Inscription, Lincoln Cathedral



Lincoln Cathedral

Stained glass, Lincoln Cathedral

I’ve just had a visit from Eileen, and I’ve decided I’d like to keep her in a cupboard and bring her out every time I need inspiration or a dose of the Muse.  I’m never sure how it happens, but every time I meet up with her I get better photographs than I get most of the rest of the time.  I wasn’t even going to take my camera out with me this time – at that point I didn’t have my newly fixed computer back, and the lack of ability to process in RAW was leaving me feeling a bit apathetic about photography in general.  ‘Take it!’, Geoff said, ‘it’s Eileen – you know you’ll want to take pictures if you’re with her’.  And he was right.

We went on a visit to Lincoln, which has to have one of the most gorgeous old town areas of any mediaeval city in the UK.  We had plans – we intended to see an exhibition called Colour Love, on at the Usher Gallery.  But before that, we thought a visit to the Cathedral wouldn’t go wrong, and it certainly didn’t, but we were a lot longer than we thought we’d be and by the time we’d thoroughly photographed the Cathedral and had some lunch, it was 4.00pm – which turned out to be the time that the gallery closed.  (On a Saturday! – that’s the Midlands for you.  If you live in London or the South-East, you get used to things being open most of the time.)  So we missed the exhibition, but we did have a very good time anyway.

It was a very bright, sunny day and the light in the Cathedral was wonderful, with vividly coloured splashes of it filtering through the stained glass windows.  I’ve got loads of shots I’m very happy with, and haven’t finished processing all of them yet.  I wanted to share these with you for the moment, and I’ll follow up with the rest in due course.

Something interesting happened while I was processing – the first image below seemed to call out for the pillars to be left in bright coloured light, with a very dark/black background that would eliminate most of the background detail and throw the attention onto the columns themselves.  I tried various ways to do this in Elements, but in the end I added a solid colour Layer of black and then used the Soft Light blending mode to blend it with the original.  That gave me the effect I wanted, and then I wondered how that would look if I did the same thing to the rest.  Surprisingly, it worked very well on almost everything, and it gave me the feeling I wanted, which is of vivid light and colour in a very dark space.  I wanted to recreate the dim, soothing, womb-like feeling of old churches and cathedrals with the contrast of the astonishingly bright light streaming through the coloured windows.  I’m sure there are other, possibly better, ways of doing this, but I’m pretty pleased with the results.

Columns, Lincoln Cathedral

Arch, Lincoln Cathedral

Columns 2, Lincoln Cathedral

Flagstones, Lincoln Cathedral

Face, Lincoln Cathedral

Duncan Grant, mural detail, LIncoln Cathedral

Carpet, Lincoln Cathedral

Dappled, Lincoln Cathedral

Wooden cross, Lincoln Cathedral

Flagstones 2, Lincoln Cathedral

Icon, Lincoln Cathedral

Cloister windows, Lincoln Cathedral