Friday, March 15, 2013


When we came to Scottsdale in March of 2012, I "discovered" the Old Adobe Mission, a beautiful little church located in downtown Scottsdale.  I took a number of photos of it then.  This year I wanted to see if I could improve on what I did last year.  Short answer: I don't think so.

I have taken photos of the building on three different days and under different conditions, which had a significant effect on how the photos turned out.  The first day was overcast.  As a result, there was less contrast between the mission and the light colored sky.  In addition, this also meant that the shadows on the white exterior of the mission were also much more muted.  Here are some of the shots that I took.

This first shot, taken from the rear of the building, is nice but does reflect the problems that the overcast was creating.  Overall, it is not a bad shot, though it emphasizes the back portion of the building rather than the more interesting bell tower.

I solved this problem by taking a vertical shot that gives more emphasis to the tower.  And here's a third shot from a slightly different angle.

Although this gives even more emphasis to the tower, it now gives the appearance of being just about the tower and not the mission.

Disappointed with the photos I got, I decided to go back on a cloudless day--not much of a problem in sunny Arizona.  Now there was more contrast between the white of the mission and the blue of the sky.  And the contrast between sunlit and non-sunlit sides of the building was more pronounced.

Here is a shot similar in composition to the second photo above.

This was probably the best shot of the mission that I got this year.

And here's a shot taken directly from the side across from the tower.

Now I've lost the contrast between lit and unlit sides, so the photo seems a bit flat.

There are challenges to any shots taken from directly in front of the mission.  Specifically, there are utility lines running directly across the normal line of sight.  To avoid those utility lines, requires taking any such shots from very close to the building, resulting in major perspective problems.  I thought it might work to take shots from the front corner of the building.  Here are a couple of those.

This shot has problems.  First, I felt the fence was too prominent, taking away from the beauty of the building.  Second, there is no contrast between the two sides of the building.

Here is a final shot, taken on a third visit to the mission.

Now there was great contrast.  Moreover the afternoon sky was a nice dark blue, adding further contrast to the overall shot, including that between the sky and the simple wooden cross at the top of the tower.  The issue here is the presence of a portion of a palm tree in the upper left.  From the angles available to me it would have been difficult to fully exclude the tree.  My alternative would have been to take a wider angle shot to more fully incorporate the tree, but that would have sacrificed the emphasis on the building's architectural detail.

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