Wednesday, February 17, 2016


Since my first visit 3 or 4 years ago to the Basilica of St. Josaphat, located on Milwaukee's south side, I have returned probably 8 or 9 times.  The basilica is not without it's flaws--much of the interior is faux marble and there is just too much going on.  There is also a lack of diversification in the interior's color palette.  Even so, it remains a stunning space.  I find myself returning periodically, as if it were a pilgrimage.  It had been 8 months since I had last done a photo shoot there, so the other day I returned, hoping to get something fresh or at least to improve on what I had shot previously.  (Secretly, it is as much just the act of trying to capture the space as it is to do something new.)  Here is what I got.

As typically happens, my first shots were taken from the back of the nave looking past the holy water angels and down the central aisle.  Here are a couple of those shots.

Even though the first shot captures more of the basilica's upper reaches below the dome, I liked the second shot more.  I think it was by reason of the fact that it was taken from a very low angle (in this case with the camera actually sitting on the floor).

I always look to take a shot of the dome from directly beneath.  To do that I need to locate the spot that is directly beneath the dome's center.  I then position the camera to point straight up (which can also be a bit of a challenge) and use my remote to trigger the shutter.  On this occasion I wanted to shoot the dome on the diagonal.  I didn't quite hit the angle, but I pretty much nailed the camera's location, minimizing any cropping.

The upper portion of the apse is really very nice.  However, it is behind the sanctuary, which is off limits.  On this visit I switched to my 70-300 mm telephoto to "get" a little closer to that feature.  Here is an overall shot of the apse ceiling and a second shot showing detail of the coffered arch, mural, and stained glass skylight.

The basilica includes a number of very nice stained glass windows.  Here are a few of those.

I especially liked this last shot, though it presented challenges because the light coming through the window was so much brighter than the surrounding interior features, which were fairly dark.  Once again, the Lightroom software helped a lot to compensate for these extreme differences in light intensity.

I also took a few sculpture detail shots.  The first is of an angel on the side of the altar piece at the back of the apse.

And the following are of sculptural details at the base of the pulpit.

I was quite close (2 feet, perhaps) when I took this last shot, which made it easier to separate the sculpture from the background via depth of field.

A few more comments:  White balance can be a real challenge when there are multiple sources of light that vary in temperature.  In this case there was light coming through the basilica's stained glass windows, but the facility's incandescent lights were also on.  In post processing, I tweaked the white balance some based on my memory of the interior's colors.  Fortunately, I shoot in RAW, which means that whatever the camera does can be overridden in post processing.

I was really pleased with the quality of the resolution of the photos in this shoot.  For the most part I credit my equipment, the Nikon D750 camera and the Nikkor 24-120 mm f/4.0 lens.  Because I was using my tripod, shutter speed was not a critical problem, as it would have been in a handheld situation.  That made a huge difference in terms of resolution quality that would have been sacrificed as ISO was ramped up to offset what would otherwise be an unacceptably long exposure.  On this occasion all the photos were shot at an ISO of 200.

As typically happens, I take a lot more shots that I wind up keeping.  On this occasion I took about 90 shots and am now down to about 20 keepers.


1 comment:

  1. Your pictures are breathtaking. Read the captions and you are so right about the too busy and no free space. Thanks for sharing.