Tuesday, 26 July 2011

St Paul Church, Armitage Bridge

St Paul Church at Armitage Bridge is one that I've always wanted to photograph.  When I was making church images a few years back they were having some work done and had scaffolding around the church so it got missed.  With my renewed interest in my church photography I thought I'd take the opportunity to fill a gap in my gallery.

It was a lovely day with deep blue sky and a few fluffy white clouds for contrast.  Behind me it was a lot cloudier and I had to wait for breaks in the cloud to get some of the photos.  The church feels to be in an odd place because, until recently, it's not next to any housing where the congregation would be.  A commemorative bridge has been built from the road across to the church but previously it would be necessary to go over a hump back bridge and down a lane to get to the church.  It's hard to explain really.  Opposite the church is a big old mill which has now been split into units and there is a cricket pitch adjacent to the churchyard.

The first couple of images are taken from the lane and through a nice stone arch at the entrance to the churchyard.  The first I've used a portrait orientation to use the whole of the arch to frame the shot.


The second shot is taken from the same place but I've changed to landscape and zoomed in so just the sides of the arch are on the edges of the frame.  This also has the effect of removing the sky from the shot at the top ad the big patch of shadow from the foreground.  The closer shot is also showing a lot more detail with the little statue over the door and the odd angles of the gravestones.


In the next shot I have moved inside the archway and gone a lot wider to capture the whole church and the trees at either side.  Because of the wide angle on the original shot there was quite a lot of perspective distortion which I've tried to correct but I think the tower looks a bit bent over now.


In this next shot I have moved into the churchyard where there is a line of gravestones leading up to the tower.


In the next image I have moved to the other side of the churchyard to  get more of a view across to the tower.  I wanted to go a bit further across but the trees on the right started to get in the way.


So I moved a bit closer which gave the opportunity to have the gravestones in the foreground but now the tower is a bit out of focus towards the top.  On this photo and the previous one you can see where the roof line used to be a bit higher and at a steeper angle.  I suspect that originally the roof came down straight to the top of the wall whereas now the angle changes to enable the line of small windows on top of the wall.  The addition of the row of windows was probably added to make it lighter inside.  Unfortunately the church wasn't open and there was no-one about so I wasn't able to find out.


There is a lovely war memorial with this tall cross on the top with the names of local people that had lost their lives in the first world war.


In this last shot of the church I wanted the war memorial in the front with the tower behind so had to use this funky angle to get them both in the frame.  Again the tower is a bit out of focus, I guess I needed a smaller aperture but it's quite difficult to see until it's on the computer screen when I get back home.  I'll maybe need to go back again to get some more shots and maybe if the church is open I can take some photos from inside too.


After I had finished at the church I went to the mill across the road where one of the units is the North Light Gallery where there is always some kind of exhibition to visit.  On this day it was the work of the students from the Holmfirth High School from their 'O' Level exams.  My daughters went to this school as it's about a ten minute walk from our house.  There was a lot of interesting stuff and some of the work was excellent.  It's fascinating to see how the 15 to 16 year olds are seeing the world and how much talent they have.  I didn't take any photos inside the gallery as I wasn't sure if that would be allowed and I didn't want to get ejected.

After visiting the gallery I went to Beaumont Park where I've been a few times and had a couple of blog posts in the past.  Last time I was there they were just doing the finishing touches on the new roof to the bandstand which previously was just an open square with the wall around.  I must admit I've looked at this before and thought it would be good to restore it and make use of it. I'm very pleased to see the work completed and I'm very impressed with what they have done.  The whole park has had a lot of work done on it in the last few years but I suspect it's a big job to keep on top of the amount of work required.  Hats off to the Friends of Beaumont Park for all their good work.


As I walked around the park the sun was disappearing behind the clouds you can see in the bandstand photo.  I was struck by this island in the path with the old bit of tree trunk and the fluffy pink flowers.  I think it makes quite a nice photo and I might print it out on one of my big sheets of photo paper to put up on my wall.


Wednesday, 20 July 2011

All Hallows, Kirkburton

After my visit to the church at Hepworth I've had a renewed interest in updating and expanding my churches portfolio and I've added a churches gallery page to the blog.  I've dropped a set of my old photos onto the page and started adding a bit of text about them (need to do some more yet).  I've also been inspired to try to get back to some of the churches and try to get some new photos in better weather as many of the photos have issues with the sky.  I'd also like to think that maybe my photography has improved in the last few years.

A few weeks back I had a bit of spare time so I went back to the church at Kirkburton, which is about four miles from home, to make some fresh images.  When I went here before it was a Saturday morning and there were quite a few people about getting the church ready for the Sunday services and tidying up the graveyard. It was one of my first forays into approaching people and summoning up the courage to ask if I could photograph them.  I need to do it more often but usually when I'm out and about there's not many people around.

When I set off from home I just took my camera with a 50mm lens and my tripod as a bit of an exercise in using a minimal amount of equipment.  As happens quite often for me the weather starts out bright and sunny but them almost immediately starts to deteriorate.  The church has a piece of land across a little lane which is an addition to main graveyard around the church and it has a little lychgate at the entrance.  In this photograph I am inside the new graveyard looking out towards the exit and with the old graveyard in the background.  I should maybe have moved the green bin out of the frame or perhaps I should have a go at cloning it out.


After wandering around a bit I headed towards the church itself and the cloud was beginning to increase very quickly.   There are a lot of big trees in the churchyard and so it's  quite difficult to get a clear shot of the church from this side.  I seem to remember having the same problem last time I was here.  As I was taking this shot of the tower a gentleman came out of the church and said "I'm just going to get something from my car, I'll be back in a minute".  I said "OK" and thought why is he telling me that, I wasn't here to see him.  I carried on taking the shot, and true to his word he was back.


He asked me if I was wanting to look around inside and I said that I would as the weather conditions weren't that good for many more photographs outside.  Last time I came here I didn't get around to going inside so it was all new to me.  The gentleman started to tell me about the history of the church and about some of the notable things inside and out.  It's a very old church site going back to the middle ages some 800 plus years ago.  It turns out that he is a local historian with a long association with the church so he had plenty to say about the church and the notable people from it's past.  He was also a keen photographer and in the past had been a professional working for one of the local papers.  He showed me some pictures that he had created in Photoshop giving an impression of how the building had been changed over the centuries which was quite impressive.

It was quite dark in the church but I mounted my camera on the tripod an made a few images.  The choice of the 50mm lens was perhaps not too suited to the task as I really needed something a bit wider.  I will definitely need to go back and take some more photographs both inside and outside this church.  The altar area seemed to be the oldest part of the church with the bare stone walls and this lovely stained glass window.  In the side of the wall was a little hole (or squint) which went into a hermits dwelling that was built onto the side of the church.  St. Agnes lived here for over twenty years and the hole was to enable her to "squint" at the clergymen as they performed their services.


To the side of the pulpit was another, smaller stained glass window which looked much newer than the one behind the altar.  Here the walls had been plastered which also made this area look a lot newer.


At the back of the church was this medieval font which had been taken away from the church but was later returned.  The font was big enough to cover a baby completely with water at the christening.  The gentleman had told me that in the olden times they only changed the holy water once a year so it was a bit of a health hazzard towards the end of the year.  The cover was a much later addition and was hung from chains attached to the ceiling.


My final photos were of the gentleman who I met outside and had spent time with (and I wish I had got his name, maybe I'll see him again on my next visit).  He was a little reluctant to be in front of the lens as he was more used to being behind it, but I have never had any strangers I have met refuse to have their photo taken.  He was very tolerant of me asking him to move to a spot near the font where I could use the light coming in through one of the windows.  I used a very wide aperture to get a shallow depth of field so only the main features of his face are in focus.  I really love this photo and especially the black and white conversion.  I have made a print an put it into one of the second hand frames that I have been buying from the local charity shops with the intention of giving it to the gentleman if I see him again.  Unfortunately I managed to break the glass so I'll have to try and get a new piece or borrow one from one of the other frames to replace it.


Since this trip I've been to yet another church and also been on a couple of long walks so I really need to concentrate on catching up with my blog posts.