Ladders, Long Brushes, Long Lenses and Henry Holiday. A month in St Chad's, Kirkby.

It started with a request from the Liverpool diocesan heritage officer, would I be interested in a commission to photograph all the stained glass in St Chad's, Kirkby, Absolutely!
The problem with photographing stained glass, especially as in this case, glass that is damaged, is the contrast. There are twenty three stained glass windows in St Chad's, shooting high resolution medium format I quoted for three days photography. Of course the weather in October 'up north' should be suitably cloudy, think again wall to wall sunshine day after day, out of sheer desperation I spend a morning shooting the north aisle windows to see what they look like, rubbish!

 The first suitably cloudy day!

The first suitably cloudy day!

Finally a couple of back to back cloudy days arrive, I wheel my cart into the gloomy interior of St Chad's and set up quickly, a few hours later I've managed to finish the north aisle and I'm happy with the results.

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North Isle window depicting Hannah

Dating from 1871-1897 the windows in St Chad’s show 27 years of Henry Holiday’s developing style, three West windows depicting scenes from the life of Christ, South aisle windows with saints, North aisle windows with women from the Old Testament, four corner windows of Archangels and four East windows, an unusual complete set of church windows by Holiday.

At this point I'm reminded of a novel I once read, 'A Month in the Country' by J.L. Carr, the plot concerns Tom Birkin, a First World War veteran employed to uncover a mural in a village church that was thought to exist under coats of whitewash. The novel explores themes of happiness, melancholy, and nostalgia as Birkin recalls the summer uncovering the mural.

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No mural I know, but I feel happy in this place peeling back the layers of cobwebs and grime covering the glass! Yes a lot of brushwork from ladders was involved in the making of theses images! Including one four metre long brush, which wasn't long enough!

 Working with my Schneider Kreuznach tilt/shift lens

Working with my Schneider Kreuznach tilt/shift lens

Henry Holiday (1839-1927) was an artist at the heart of the Arts and Crafts movement, being a founder member of The Fifteen, the Art Workers' Guild and the Arts and Crafts Exhibition Society. In a career devoted primarily to applied decorative art he exhibited paintings and sculpture at the Royal Academy and became an influential force in British stained glass, rejecting mediaevalism in favour of modern aesthetic design.

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His work is featured in many churches, and the I. K. Brunel memorial window in Westminster Abbey is contemporaneous with the East windows at St. Chad's. He also designed murals for Worcester College chapel, Oxford and for Bradford and Rochdale Town Halls, illustrated Lewis Carroll's 'Hunting of the Snark', and commissions following an 1890 trip to the U.S and Canada included the Robert E. Lee memorial in St. Paul's, Richmond, Virginia and the windows of Holy Trinity church, Manhattan, New York.

Sacred Architecture 'to scan or not to scan, that is the question'?

There are still certain aspects of shooting film that I miss, I think!
Could it have been the anticipation of a shoot as I took the rolls of film out of the fridge and packed them carefully in the bag? Or was it the lovely peppermint flavour on the tongue as I licked the wrapping band on another completed roll of Agfa's 120 roll film?
I think probably neither, but I do have a lot of images that were shot on film 'back in the day', and very rarely do they see the light of day.

 The Cathedral from Hope Street

The Cathedral from Hope Street

In 2003 I was commissioned by Bluecoat Press, Liverpool, to shoot all the contemporary photography for a book about Liverpool Cathedral, at the time digital photography wasn't up to the job and looking back now as a Phase One user I think this was the right decision.

 Looking toward the High Altar from the West Door

Looking toward the High Altar from the West Door

After editing I submitted about six hundred transparency's for consideration, the selected transparency's were sent for scanning and then returned to me and have been sat in a 'Secol' archival box ever since.

Earlier this year I was contacted by Craig Hamilton Architects to use images from the book to accompany an article in the American publication 'Sacred Architecture Journal'.

http://www.craighamiltonarchitects.com

 Lady Chapel from the gallery

Lady Chapel from the gallery

Like the rest of us I've got use to the convenience of our digital world, the original scans were never given to me so I contacted the publisher, 'no problem' came the reply, ‘we'll send you all of the scans' unfortunately only three of the six images were in their archive, I had to scan the other three and this led me to notice some deterioration on the transparencies.

 The inner doors of the Rankin Porch

The inner doors of the Rankin Porch

Now I've discovered that the publishing house doesn't hold a copy of the transparencies and I’ve seen the start of some deterioration I need to treat this as a wake up call for the several thousand unscanned transparencies I have and think about my own archive. The question now is how to get the best out of them? still it’s nice to see the images in print again.

 Ordination service

Ordination service

Sacred Architecture Journal, a publication of the Institute for Sacred Architecture, is dedicated to a renewal of beauty in contemporary church design. Through its scholarly articles on architectural history, principles of design, and contemporary buildings, the Journal seeks to inspire and inform.

http://www.sacredarchitecture.org

A shift in perspective

I don't normally blog about gear, but!
I've just taken delivery of a Schneider Kreuznach PC-TS Apo-Digitar 5.6/120 HM Aspheric lens, and as it's name suggests this is a complex piece of kit.

 Lens with all settings zeroed

Lens with all settings zeroed

It's not a lens for people that shoot thousands of images over a weekend in the hope that one or two of them may turn out to be good picture, it's a complex tool for photographers that want to craft their images and look that bit further when working a shoot.

 Full Tilt and shift applied

Full Tilt and shift applied

Tilt can be used technically, creating images with increased depth of field using the Scheimpflug principle and shift for correcting converging verticals. It's also possible to use the tilt artistically by dropping focus out, I know people will say that this 'look' can be achieved in post production, doing this would be nothing but a pale imitation of what this lens can achieve.

 The lens has its own tripod mount

The lens has its own tripod mount

This is a lens that requires a lot of thought and patience in its operation, it has large format quality and versatility with medium format convenience.

 Built in lens hood

Built in lens hood

Using its offset focus plane it's perfect for studio work, product shots and for creating stunning images, 8° tilt, 12mm shift, rotating lens groups 360° on both axes, no flare, even at extreme angles.

I love it!

Migration

Back in 2008 I was in Liverpool Cathedral photographing 'For You' by Tracey Emin, this shoot was commissioned by White Cube in London and soon after White Cube contacted me and asked if I could photograph 'Roman Standard', Emin's other piece in Liverpool. Roman Standard is normally next to the Cathedral in the grounds of the Oratory and is a tribute to Liverpool's famed liver Bird, this was Emin's first public art project, often mistaken as a real bird it is a symbol of 'hope, faith and spirituality'.
Now it's flown south and will be on display in the courtyard of Pallant House Gallery, Chichester, West Sussex until 7th May 2018 as part of Young British Artists exhibition. One of my images from the Oratory shoot has been used in the Friends magazine.

 Page from the Friends magazine

Page from the Friends magazine