Wednesday, August 6, 2014


On our recent trip to Salt Lake City I stumbled across the city's Roman Catholic cathedral, known as the Cathedral of the Madeleine.  Yes, Salt Lake City has a Catholic population as well as a Mormon one, and, like most Catholic churches, this one was open to the public.

The cornerstone of the cathedral was laid in 1900 and the church was completed in 1909.  The building's exterior is largely unchanged, except for repairs and restorations over the past 100 years.

The towers feature nonfunctional gargoyles, but they were at too great a distance for my lens and are just visible in the following shot.

A tympanum was added at some time after the original construction and is quite nice.

Here is a detail that I converted to a black & white to take full advantage of the sharp shadow contrasts in the bright sunlight.

Now to the interior, which was very dark.  So dark, in fact, that without my tripod I was ramping up the ISO to the 1600 to 3200 range.  That meant that the images included a lot of noise (graininess), but I have decided that graininess is better than camera blur.  I can quiet down some of the noise in post processing, whereas there really is no cure for camera shake.

If there is one word to describe the interior, it would be "colorful."

First is a typical wide-angle shot looking toward the sanctuary.

To give some idea of how dark the interior was, this was shot at f/4 with the ISO set at 2500 and an exposure of 1/15 second.  White balance was another issue, and I have attempted in post processing to achieve colors as close as I could to what I recalled at the time.

If there were any stars in this interior, one would have to mention the multi-colored pillars leading up to the groined vault ceiling.  Here are a few of the shots that I took of those, both singly and in array.

Another of the star features of this cathedral had to be the pipe organ in the choir loft above the rear of the nave.  The organ featured a number of trumpet pipes, some of which are visible in the shot above.  Here are a couple of more shots that feature those trumpets, as well as the groined vault ceiling.

I thought I would also include a couple of shots just of the ceiling, one wide-angle shot looking straight up . . . 

. . . and one of the diamond-shaped detail in the center of the above shot.

The cathedral also featured a number of large and impressive stained glass windows.  I took a few shots of them and am including one of those here.

I also took a few photos of the ceiling above the sanctuary.  Following is one of those.

Finally, is a detail shot of an array of prayer candles.

This was in a particularly dark area, and I wound up with a 1/2 second exposure.



  1. What beautiful pictures.

  2. Mr. Phillips,
    Your photographs of the Cathedral of the Madeleine are beautiful. I am currently working on a project for my english class regarding the Cathedral of the Madeleine. Do you ever allow your photographs to be used as part of a school project?

    1. Alisha, Thanks for your kind words. You are welcome to use the photos for your school project. I assume this is not for commercial use. I appreciate your asking.

      As you may have noted, I live in Wisconsin, not Utah. My son and family live in Salt Lake City, so I get out there on a regular basis. I have actually done photo shoots of the Cathedral of the Madeleine three times. If you haven't already, you might want to check out the other posts that I have done of the cathedral. They can be found based on their dates, which are as follows: May 21, 2015 and August 19, 2016. Good luck with your school project.