Holy Nikon

I had just posted a couple of images of this scene on Flickr and was saying how blessed my camera is now having dipped it in the holy water of Salisbury Cathedral. I have been to many churches/cathedrals here in Europe but never had any sort of reflections of it from the inside. So this intrigued me.

You must know that Salisbury England is most famous for the Stonehenge, but unlike most, I was more excited to see the church mainly because there was water, and water means reflections. The Stonehenge is just a bunch of rocks in the middle of a great big lawn đŸ™‚ Of course, Stonehenge has more historical origins and has existed way before Christ, that’s why it’s more popular.

The water is actually a full-immersion baptismal font measuring 3-meters wide and holds 3,000 liters of water. It sits at the opposite end of the altar, and you’ll see it just as you enter the church. The challenge for me was how to tackle the wide dynamic range of the scene – the church was illuminated by intense afternoon sunlight and the water vessel was very dark compared to it. HDR photographers would handle this by taking multiple exposures and blend them in post processing, but I’m a straightforward single-exposure photographer. So I used an ND grad to even out the light, but my problem then would be loss of light (2 stops), and although it wasn’t too dark inside the church, it still was not bright enough. Tripods are not allowed in churches, so it was time to test the D700’s noise-handling ability as I cranked up my ISO, going from 1600 to 4000. My comfort level for unsupported handheld shots is about 1/30 to 1/40 sec, so I kept it around that speed.

I’m fairly pleased with my shots, considering the situation and difficult lighting. I like how I kept the details on the arches and pillars and was easy on the highlights on this shot.

Salisbury Cathedral - Reflections on the baptismal font. 1/40 sec, ISO 3200, with 2-stop ND grad filter, water-filled vessel as a tripod.


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