Tag Archives: churches

Good Friday and what I’ve been up to…

Well, it’s Good Friday,

So, I feel like one of my photos from a church is best for today.

It’s been a while since I’ve posted something. I have a couple of reasons for this. First and foremost, my computer is terribly slow. I’ve been working on a way to get a new computer. My photographic ideas have been getting larger and more complex. Unfortunately, this meands my i3 processor that has a slow hard drive and intel graphics won’t cut it anymore!

I’m also shopping for a new home. I currently live in Mundelein, IL. I may be moving to Palatine, IL. This will be closer to my day job.

And, if that weren’t enough, I’m also working on starting a real estate photography business! But this requires building up my portfolio in that direction. If this works, it could mean a new life and an incredibly awesome focus in photography! Not quitting my day job yet, but it’s a start.

THE PICTURE! On Good Friday, I’m reminded of where Jesus’ story started from, the Christmas Story. This child, born of poverty settings grows to be a man with a following because he urges peace, love, and justice that results from that. If punishment comes from anyone, let it come from God. Today is the day we remember that he paid for that Gospel with his life and prepare for the day he conquers death.


The nativity at St. John Cantius Church in Chicago, IL.

Rockefeller Chapel and Frank Lloyd Write

Last Saturday, I decided I wanted to get some experience at regular residential interior photography. When you live in Chicago, where else do you go but the legendary, Frank Lloyd Write? Well, I can’t show you those pictures of the inside because the foundation for Frank Lloyd Write basically locks you down from distributing them online or anywhere in any public forum except in your own home and in closed social networks. BUT, they can’t keep you from taking photos of the exterior! So I’ve included one of his home and studio in this post.


I also visited the Robbie house in the Woodlawn area of Chicago. Personally, I like his home and studio better because it actually felt more like a home. The Robbie house has some very interesting features to it, but photographically, it feels more like a commercial building to me than a home. He didn’t believe in having lots of ornate furnishings and knick knacks. I can say that I did enjoy his habit of making common areas like hallways ‘compressive’ and the rooms the release.  I also enjoyed his habit of slowly bringing you from the outside with transition zones for both the patios and decks. You can only wonder what he would have done with today’s engineering capabilities.

But, when I went to see the Robbie house, I parked next to the Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago. So I might be a sucker for the vast spaces of these churches. I also find them photographically challenging. Stained glass can be very difficult to contain it’s essence. The scope of the display is so hard to translate into a single exposure. So I keep trying. I hope you get to feel a little bit of what I felt from this place.

The Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago, IL. On this day they were gettign prepared for a wedding which was a few hours away from this photo.
The Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago, IL. On this day they were gettign prepared for a wedding which was a few hours away from this photo.

Technical stuff: When I took this photo, I did a five exposure brackets that were three frames wide, and five frames tall. However, the top frame was almost completely cropped away. It’s hard to get everything to line up right. I did the HDR processing first and I was careful to make sure all the settings were universal throughout the HDR processing. Once that was done, I stitched everything together and did my final adjustments. Do the math, 5 exposures per bracket x 5 high x 3 wide = 75 exposures! I had to reduce the resolution just a little so my computer could handle the data. (Time for an upgrade?)

Religious Statues: Mary Says Goodbye

This statue is the depiction of Jesus’ mother holding her son after he came down from his Crucifixion. This particular statue was displayed at St. John Cantius Church in Chicago, IL. It is a very beautiful church and they have many more statues, other forms of art, and the church has been redone. But this depiction is so full of emotion and detail that it’s worth displaying on Ash Wednesday.

This depiction of Mary holding her son, Jesus, after the crucifixion is found at St. John Cantius, Chicago.
This depiction of Mary holding her son, Jesus, after the crucifixion is found at St. John Cantius, Chicago.

Technical stuff: Sony NEX-7 ISO 1600, 55mm, f/5.6, 1/15 sec.  The statue allowed me to get up close and personal. It was actually in the stair well and the light was pretty good without being overwhelming.

I hope you enjoy.

Looking in and up: St Mary of the Angels

I guess some of the things I like about large old churches is that they invite you to look deep and high. There is a certain entertainment value here. But it’s guided. That when I get lost in thought, my eyes just bounce around and come back to where I am supposed to be, connecting with the Holy Spirit.

At St. Mary of the Angels Church in Chicago, their art has gone to so much work to do just that. The church has a kind of light glow that is hard to feel when there is no one there and the lights turned off. But through post processing it is easy to bring that back.  In this image you can easily make out the mural above the alter that depicts the crowning of Mary in Heaven. There is also the stained glass ceiling.  We also have murals to either side of alter, further displaying the values of the parish and their devotion to St. Mary.

I know that people that go to new churches have good parishes. But they are missing something when they don’t stuff their church with nearly so much visual goodness!

Vertorama of St Mary Of The Angels
Vertorama of St. Mary of the Angels Church in Chicago. This reveals a common stars in blue field in the ceiling and wonderful stained glass in the main dome. The crowning of mary is depicted above the alter. Then in the side alters you have depictions of people honoring the traditions of the parish.

The technical stuff: This image is a combination of six horizontal images. They were brackets of 2, 0, -2 exposure values. I combined the images into three separate  vertoramas of each exposure value and ran the HDR program in Photoshop. I then ran Adobe Camera Raw and touched up the HDR to reveal as much textures and tones as I could before converting it to what you see here.

St Hyacinth the Alter view

I’ll keep this entry brief with a new photo of the day.

Here’s another view from St. Hyacinth Basilica. This time, I put together six photos from top to bottom . They were also stitched with Microsoft Image Composite Editor.

For more information about my visit, read yesterday’s blog post.

Thank you for viewing!


A vertical panorama view of St Hyacinth Basilica's (in Chicago) alter and dome. Stitched with six images.
A vertical panorama view of St Hyacinth Basilica’s (in Chicago) alter and dome. Stitched with six images.

St. Hyacinth Basilica’s Dome: time, perseverance, and patience

Today I was struggling to venture into new territory for me. The art of the photo stitch when encompassing what is overhead has been a little difficult until today! Just yesterday I visited both, St. Hyacinth Basilica and St. Mary of the Angels churches in Chicago. It was my second visit for St. Mary of the Angels but my first for St. Hyacinth Basilica.

I was really awe struck by their dome! I thought it was grand and detailed. So much care must have gone into it’s original construction. It was built from 1917 through 1921. There is so much more to this church. I hope to have more pictures from this place in the future. This parish started in the 1890s with less than 20 families. In time, perseverance, and patience, the parish grew flourished with this amazing structure.

The only things limiting my ability to take photos I want to show is the same: time, perseverance, and patience. I was beginning to think that I wasn’t going to be able to put this photo together. I t is a panorama of 20 or more photos. Because it is a spherical panorama, I wasn’t sure just how much angular overlap was needed at the very height of the dome. But Photoshop was not doing it right. It kept breaking things out at very odd angles. It might have gone better if I used a panorama bracket on my tripod, but I don’t have one.

But there kept hope! I kept looking for a cure. Surely the geometry wasn’t impossible to overcome! Sure enough, Microsoft has a FREE program called ICE (Image Composite Editor ) and it does GREAT! Why is it able to do this when Photoshop can’t? I have no idea. It does it well. Anyways, when it was done generating it, I had it saved as a TIFF and made some basic and practical edits in Lightroom, and now you see what you see!

The dome of St Hyacinth Basilica, Chicago.
The dome of St Hyacinth Basilica, Chicago.