Friday, September 11, 2015

Photo Challenge: Architecture Religious/Church

This week's challenge was to take a picture of a church or place of worship, since so many of these places have interesting architecture.  The goal was to try including the entire church in the shot to show off the whole building.

I've actually been eyeing this tiny church along my route into the Twin Cities for well over 2 years--even before I bought my first "real" camera.  Picturesque, old, and yet immaculately kept, this tiny church building just sparked something in my brain.  I've been meaning to stop and take pictures for some time, but just never got around to it.  This challenge was the perfect excuse to actually head over and try it.  There is only a one way small rutted track into the grounds which winds behind the church and into the graveyard behind it, eventually heading you back out the way you came.  When I first arrived a couple was visiting a grave-site and I respectfully held back until they were done before lugging out my tripod and camera.

The morning had been overcast and ominous clouds hung in the sky, but by the time I had set up my camera, the clouds had mellowed and a deep blue took over.  I had planned on a creepier, moody feel but ended up with a positive and classic shot.  I took photos from several angles, including some of the remarkable gravestones behind the building.

Coming home I did a little research on the building itself via the Carver County Historical Society.  This is the Zoar Moravian Church and Cemetery, built in 1863.  The Zoar congregation disbanded in the 1940's, many moving to the Waconia Moravian Church which then took over the upkeep of the building and cemetery.  They do still use the church building for special services.

I ended up trying a new technique (for me anyway) of opening up three versions of a RAW file (one well exposed, one over by 2 stops, and the last under by 2 stops).  I combined these three to get a sort of ghetto HDR effect where you get a more balanced picture with a good mix of highlight and shadow.  I tried to do separate shots to combine but the wind made the composite slightly blurred and the flapping flag looked very odd.  I thought about cropping this a bit to focus more on the church but I liked the graveyard and the clouds too much to cut them out.

Here is a close-up on the steeple from an odd angle.

And a close-up on some lichen atop one of the older grave markers.

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