Tondo di Colori

I have blogged before about the lovely afternoon/evening sunlight at my parish church. In the late spring and summer I can catch it after dinner, on any night when the church is not in use, but in winter I have to come earlier in the afternoon, and then only on Saturdays with no weddings scheduled.


For this image I found a composition with the roundel that satisfied me and waited for a pleasing configuration of colors. The window out of frame to the left shows Christ in majesty, flanked by two angels; the transmitted image of the figure of Christ is in the center of the roundel.

This Is My Beloved Son

The oldest Catholic parish in Champaign is St. Mary’s, immediately adjacent to the Urbana border and across the street from the Catholic hospital. I’ve been to Mass there a few times, and the first time I went, my attention was seized by this window in the baptistery:

Baptisma Domini

I have not yet found out exactly when it was made. The style is very late-20th-Century, and it’s an unusually good example of a modern window that harmonizes with an older church while being clearly of its time. It certainly gives St. Mary’s the most beautiful baptistery in town, in my not-at-all humble opinion, a place fitting for such an august rite.

Sacred Details

Now that the sun is setting later in the evening, I have time to get over to Holy Cross after dinner and make use of the light. I used my 90mm macro for some detail shots, which didn’t need the close focus but made good use of the sharpness.


On a sunny evening, the stained glass is like magic mutable paint, splashed in gaudy streaks all over the baldachino.


I originally thought that I’d have to come back with strobe or a flashlight to re-do this next shot, but Lightroom tamed the candle flames and pulled all kinds of detail out of the shadows.


I am blessed to be a member of a parish with such a lovely place to worship.


On the last two weekends my wife has been playing for the Saturday evening Mass at St. John’s Catholic Chapel, the University church. My wife was not involved there when she was in college, since she lived 5 minutes away from St. Matthew’s in Champaign, but I lived at the attached Newman Hall dormitory for all four years of my undergraduate study. I am no longer a student, a foolish old man rather than a foolish young man; still, no other church feels as much like “home” as St. John’s. It helps that it’s a gorgeous little Italian Baroque chapel, with huge and luminous windows I cannot hope to capture in full with my camera. After Mass this past Saturday I was able to grab a quick shot of the window in the west choir loft stairwell:

Rex Psalmorum

Its opposite number in the east stairwell depicts St. Cecilia, but I didn’t have enough light to shoot handheld over there. A project for another time, methinks, because I will be going back to visit.

Still Hanging On

Real life has this annoying habit of demanding my attention, instead of leaving me alone so I can make crappy pictures and annoy the Internet with them. In any event, I haven’t been completely idle, and am making a little project of the stained glass windows in my parish church. For instance:

And also:

Barca Petri

These pictures are a compromise between what I’d like to achieve and what my equipment permits. They were taken with tripod on the ground, a long lens, camera tilted up, and framed loosely. It took two attempts to get something usable; I forgot to enable exposure delay on my first attempt, and the whole set was ruined by vibrations from mirror slap. If I can arrange it I should try again, using a ladder rather than my tripod to get the camera higher.

Too Early For Saffron

Spring is here, although I’m sure winter will make at least one more appearance before April. We have more crocuses this year than I’ve ever seen in front of the house. For this picture I waited until the flowers were in shade, set a white balance to render the ambient light bluish, and used a strobe with a full CTO to provide the warm sunlit feel.

Heavenly HDR

If you are feeling like Cadmus after sowing the dragon’s teeth, ask a group of photographers: “So, how do you like HDR?” Few techniques are more contentious than tone mapping, which is the correct name for what most people call “HDR,” as you throw away most of the dynamic range in the final product. Like many photographers, I was bitten by the tone-mapping bug once upon a time and used it when I did not need to, but on one occasion it helped me achieve my vision with ease.

Sacred Heart Immaculate Heart

These are windows in the choir loft at Immaculate Conception Catholic Church in Bongard, IL. My wife used to be the organist at Immaculate Conception, and for four years I had the pleasure of contemplating these windows every Sunday morning. The medallions in the center of each window are painted, and do not transmit as much light as the rest, so I decided to use tone mapping to even out the difference. In fact, I overdid it, using 20+ exposures at 1/3 stop intervals, but when I was done all I had to do was tweak saturation to get the images I wanted.

I dislike cartoonish, overdone tone mapping, but I will not despise the technique itself; for some jobs it’s the right tool.