There was a long line to enter the church, a wait of 20-30 minutes, which cut down my time in the church to only an hour or so, not nearly enough time to do the place justice. However, the wait did give me a chance to take a few exterior shots. The courtyard at the main entrance included an unusual and complex feminine statue, and I tried to photograph it against the church's main portal. This is what I got.
My goal was to separate the statue from the church portal facade by opening up the aperture to f/4, hoping that that would "soften" the background. But the shot didn't really work. The statue is busy and so is the background, and the result is confusion between the two. So I tried another, closer shot that worked much better.
I'm missing part of the statue, but now the shallow depth of field does a much better job of separating the subject from the background, without losing the essence of the background entirely.
While waiting in line I also got a fairly nice photo of a couple of the gargoyles.
Again, the lens aperture was wide open, which kept the foreground gargoyle in good focus but let the background one blur out. But I was OK with that; in fact, I kind of liked the effect.
Now to the interior. The cathedral is so huge that it is not laid out like a typical church. Instead of a main nave and sanctuary, there are several, so it was not possible to take a "standard" wide angled shot looking from the back of the nave toward the sanctuary. Here is the shot that comes closest to that.
[As a side note, white balance can be very difficult in these environments as a variety of light sources--sunlight (either through stained glass or otherwise), incandescent, or florescent may be responsible for the light reflected off the church's various pillars, walls, and ceilings, resulting in a lot of false colors, as in the above shot.]
I found myself taking a lot of shots of the system of pillars and ceilings, and this also proved a challenge. I wanted to convey how vast the interior is, but I'm afraid I simply didn't succeed at that, or didn't have the equipment (sufficiently wide-angled lens) to do that. Here is some of what I did get.
Not terrible, but I am "missing" the floor to provide better context and perspective.
I did like the groining between the pillars and the ceilings and tried to capture that quality in the following shots.
I took this last shot by setting my camera on the floor right next to the pillar pointing straight up. This was a one second exposure.
The ceilings were perhaps not as interesting as I had imagined and were difficult to shoot because of all the visitors milling around. I had to do my best by standing directly under the center of the ceiling and shooting straight up, handheld. Not the best conditions. Here is what I got.
Finally, some more focused shots. A couple of stained glass windows, including a rose window.
And the tomb of someone who must have been one very important cleric.
Christopher Columbus's tomb is also located in the cathedral, and it is interesting. But it is very difficult to photograph, and I was too disappointed in my efforts to include anything here.
Because of the cathedral's location, it is nearly impossible to get a reasonable photo of the overall exterior. But here is a shot of a portion.
This is sort of like taking a shot of an elephant limited to a closeup of just a part of its back flank. However, it does give some notion of how detailed the cathedral's exterior facade is.