Thursday, July 30, 2015


The Milwaukee area is blessed with two basilicas, the over-the-top Basilica of St. Josaphat on the city's south side, and the Holy Hill Basilica 40 miles northwest of the city.  Earlier this week I made another pilgrimage to Holy Hill to get a few shots.

The basilica sits atop one of the higher hills in the Kettle Moraine and is visible for miles in all directions.  Here is a shot I took on the approach to the facility.

The facility has a number of spires, including this copper one with a nice green patina.

The main entrance is interesting and I was hoping to get some nice shots on the bright sunny morning.  However, I happened to come on a day when the parish had extended a large banner above the entrance, which I did not want to include in the shot.  So I limited the shot to the doors and some flowers to one side.

Looks a little weird, but I liked that the door was ajar.

Now to the interior.  This first is a traditional shot from the rear of the nave.

White balance is always an issue with lighted interiors.  Since I always shoot RAW, the white balance setting is theoretically irrelevant, since the file that the camera creates accurately records the actual color of the light.  However, all that I can actually see is how the camera white balance is set, interpreting that color.  So the key is to come as close as I can either at the time of shooting or in post processing to what I am actually saw at the time.  Often I set the white balance on Auto and make adjustments from there, and that is what I did for this shoot.  I wound up warming the colors a little and think I got the white balance just about right.

The other comment I have on this shot is that I have been shooting such central symmetrical compositions from a low angle.  I shot this from about 18 inches off the floor.  I think the lines of pews help to create nice perspective lines.

Here is a shot of the very beautiful, albeit typical, sanctuary visible in the center of the above shot.

Later I sat on the steps in front of the sanctuary in the above shot to get another symmetrical shot of the rear of the church.

Again, I took this from a low angle.  I would have liked to have included more of the ceiling above the nave.  However, to do that I would have had to sacrifice some of the floor of the central aisle.  I have learned that when I don't "ground" my shots, the composition feels like it is missing something.

Often the most interesting photos in a religious venue are of the side aisles, either featuring the space created by the columns separating the aisles from the nave or of the ceiling components.  Those features at Holy Hill are OK, but not great.  Here is one of the ceiling shots.

And one of the centered on the aisle and supporting pillars.

This was of only a portion of the side aisle, as I found that the entire length of the aisle created a perspective that was too narrow.  Here is another longer view of an aisle that I took off-center to emphasize the columns.

I chose to position the closest column as a foreground object.  I think it helps to make the image work, even though it occupies about 40% of the overall image.  It also serves to show off the interesting bas relief sculptures embedded in the columns.  Here is another shot that shows off some of that artistry.

A little whimsy that I had not noticed on previous visits.


1 comment:

  1. What a talent you have with catching detail. I love the doors with one open