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Thread: St Mary de Lode, Gloucester

  1. #1
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    St Mary de Lode, Gloucester

    While visiting Gloucester in late September, Rebecca and I spent the morning walkabout in the city centre and after passing the huge cathedral (which I didn't feel able to do justice to, due to its huge size and us being so close), we came across the small church of St. Mary de Lode. I don't know why, but I felt compelled to wander around it documenting it from many sides. Challenges to this were the variable light and proximity of several large trees still in leaf.

    Talking of leaves - and taking one from Frank's book - here is a potted history courtesy of Wikipedia and other sources.

    The word Lode is from the old English word for water course or ferry and in this case it refers to a ferry that once crossed a branch of the River Severn to the west of the church, which no longer exists. ~ The church has a Norman tower and chancel, and a monument of Bishop John Hooper stands in its grounds.

    In March 1643 and also in 1646, during the English Civil War, the church was used as a prison to hold royalist soldiers captured by Sir William Waller and Lieut. Col. Edward Massey.

    The church is believed to have been built on the site of an ancient Roman temple which became the first Christian church in Britain. The Roman mosaic tiled floor can still be seen in the church.

    In 1979, archaeological excavations in the nave showed that the church is built over two Roman buildings of the 2nd to 4th and 5th to 6th centuries. There was also evidence of a church on the site Saxon times, or earlier. According to written records, the earliest church on the site dates from the late eleventh century, consisting of a nave, tower and chancel but these were destroyed in a 1190 fire. A new chancel was built in the thirteenth century.

    There is a fifteenth century wooden pulpit and an organ which was moved from Gloucester's St Nicholas Church in 1971. The church also includes stained glass windows commemorating the Royal Gloucestershire Hussars and the Gloucester poet Ivor Gurney.


    Although it is apparently still a functioning church, opening hours are quite limited, so access inside wasn't possible at the time we visited.

    I was shooting with the Nikon P510 (bridge camera), not my D5000 DSLR for these, so the originals were jpg, this will be my first serious foray into processing jpgs with this type of subject.

    We walked from the Cathedral through Westgate, so starting with the monument to Bishop John Hooper and moving on to the building itself (from the rear), have I succeeded in giving a feel for the fairly compact nature of the church?

    I also took a conscious decision that I'd shoot wide and crop to correct perspective on the ones I could - and leave perspective alone in PP on the ones where this wasn't possible. I also framed to minimise distortion of things that need to be 'square' by not putting them too near the corners when shooting at 24mm FFE. So this was a bit more of an effort on my part to "get it right in camera", it has largely worked, although I miss the wider dynamic range available when RAW shooting, it limited what I could recover from the shadows where I didn't blow the sky. I had previously discovered that jpg shooting with the P510 requires much more precise exposure compared to RAW shooting with my DSLR. So that was another area where I kept re-shooting the scene until I got what I wanted on the histogram.

    I left the WB on Auto, my theory was this was more likely to give consistent looking results (in the changing light conditions) than me jumping it from one preset to another as the sun came and went. I haven't adjusted colour temp in PP, as I'm likely make it worse, having not shot any WhiBal references to refer to.

    I present them in order of a clockwise circumnavigation of the building, but in order to reduce the number of shots and avoid repitition here, I have had display them out of the sequence they were shot, explaining the apparent changes in weather; in practice, it started dull, then the cloud thinned. Is this ordering the correct decision?

    #1:
    St Mary de Lode, Gloucester
    Nikon P510 at 4.3mm: 24mm (FFE), 1/320s, f/5.9, iso200, EC -0.7 (291P_7645_H1000)
    Hit Kbd F11 and click image, then F, to see at 750px 1000px (recommended)

    Processing:
    Limited to the clone 'disconnecting' a bit of tree from the memorial on right, levels, LCE and sharpening after downsize. Framing as shot.
    What I've learnt:
    Need to get a new UWA lens so I can tackle this type of shot on the D5000 and shoot RAW (I am limited to 28mm FFE on that).

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    #2:
    St Mary de Lode, Gloucester
    Nikon P510 at 4.3mm: 24mm (FFE), 1/640s, f/5.9, iso200, EC -1.3 (291P_7643_H1000)
    Hit Kbd F11 and click image, then F, to see at 956px 1000px (recommended)

    Processing:
    Sigificant crop because I kept the camera level and the tower in the middle of the frame.
    Cloned over a parked van and car, blurred, desaturated and toned down the house and its windows to avoid the fairly bright red brick and bright, sharp (as shot) windows distracting from the main subject.
    Lifted midtones as far as I could without posterisation setting in, but it still looks dimmer than I'd like (Boo-hoo, I want my RAW )
    It was very hazy sunshine here; no shadows to speak of. Levels, LCE and sharpening after downsize.
    What I've learnt:
    As above, if shot RAW, it would have provided much better dynamic range for PP. I should have used a wider aperture on this shot; say f/2.8 (FFE f/16), although the benefit of that would have been minimal; all I had to do was blur the background a bit in PP.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    #3:
    St Mary de Lode, Gloucester
    Nikon P510 at 4.3mm: 24mm (FFE), 1/500s, f/3.7, iso200, EC -0.3 (291P_7578_H1000)
    Hit Kbd F11 and click image, then F, to see at 821px 1000px (recommended)

    Processing:
    In PP, I nearly broke my resolve not to perspective correct on this shot, it takes -30 quite well if I extend the canvas to 5000px, but I didn't in the end.
    I left the trees in the top corners since I think it shows the "hemmed in by nature" aspect of the locality, but I did clone out a bit top centre, levels, LCE and sharpening after downsize.
    What have I learnt:
    Given the poor sky, I really should have re-shot this later like the first two above. In hindsight, I am concerned that the conifer on left blocks a bit too much of the scene, although the aim was to show the Chancel (and tower).

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    #4:
    St Mary de Lode, Gloucester
    Nikon P510 at 4.3mm: 24mm (FFE), 1/320s, f/3.7, iso200, EC -0.3 (291P_7582_H1000)
    Hit Kbd F11 and click image, then F, to see at 974px 1000px (recommended)

    We have made it to the front, another of the earlier shots with bright overcast.

    Processing:
    Crop the bottom off, clone out a couple of posts in foreground, desaturate copious overload bloom/lateral CA in tree leaves against sky, levels, LCE and sharpening after downsize.
    What have I learnt:
    I took several of this aspect, some had flare, glad I took a few from slightly different positions - in fact I may have even shaded the lens, as this was shooting into the light.

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    #5:
    St Mary de Lode, Gloucester
    Nikon P510 at 8.3mm: 45mm (FFE), 1/100s, f/4.4, iso200, EC -0.7 (291P_7586_H1000)
    Hit Kbd F11 and click image, then F, to see at 1562px 1000px (recommended)

    I grabed this shot as the sunlight was fading, it didn't return (while I was in the area) for what could have been a slightly better composition. This is the north side, as you might guess from all the moss, these walls never really see direct sun and with those two huge trees keeping the whole area mostly in shade, it's a bit dark in this corner.

    Processing:
    Make a better stab at composition by cropping, desaturate overload bloom/lateral CA in leaves against sky top left, levels, LCE and then sharpening after downsize.
    What have I learnt:
    Don't hesitate, shoot (but see #6).

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    #6:
    St Mary de Lode, Gloucester
    Nikon P510 at 7.6mm: 42mm (FFE), 1/100s, f/4.3, iso200, EC -1.0 (291P_7629_H1000)
    Hit Kbd F11 and click image, then F, to see at 1315px 1000px (recommended)

    I wanted a shot using the path leading to the door and to show the tower walls and chancel, it also shows the circular window and castellated decorstion above the door. I shot one straight on to the door, but it doesn't really work.

    Processing:
    Composition is basically as shot, I removed a slither off the left edge and wished I had included more on the right. Desaturate the overload bloom/lateral CA in leaves against sky top left, levels, LCE and then sharpening after downsize.
    What have I learnt:
    Don't rush a shot (but see #5).

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    OK folks, last one, well done if you're still reading

    #7:
    St Mary de Lode, Gloucester
    Nikon P510 at 4.3mm: 24mm (FFE), 1/1250s, f/4.2, iso200, EC -1.0 (291P_7638_H1000)
    Hit Kbd F11 and click image, then F, to see at 1315px 1000px (recommended)

    I'm not sure this works as a photo, but I did learn a lot processing it.

    Processing:
    Composition is exactly as shot, cloned out a couple of bits of tree on right above roof to give a 'cleaner' look.
    Copied to two layers, processed one for the tower and everything else, double processed the other with levels, LCE to bring up the detail in the 'unlit' side and roof, erased the top to let this show through, flattened, LCE again and then sharpening after downsize.
    What have I learnt:
    I never knew you could push jpg shadow so far to recover detail, here's what I started with;

    St Mary de Lode, Gloucester

    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Well, I don't often post pictures here, but I had the day off work while the car was serviced, so I set to.

    I hope others with bridge or P&S cameras that are Aperture Priority capable see that you don't have to have a fancy DSLR to produce decent results for web display (well I think they're decent).

    Note that although this is the legendary P510 with 1000mm capable 42x zoom, the longest I used here was about 45mm and the widest 24mm.

    Also, although I used CS5 to edit, Elements or GIMP could have done it just as easily.

    I'd be grateful to hear your thoughts on whether I have achieved what I set out to.

    Thanks for viewing (and hopefully commenting),

  2. #2

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    Re: St Mary de Lode, Gloucester

    Very interesting shots of a picturesque English church. The details of the shots are most interesting and very full. One good point is the #'s 3 & 4 both have the steeley grey sky so typical of English summers, especially this last one, that often gets criticised as 'blown'.

  3. #3
    dje's Avatar
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    Re: St Mary de Lode, Gloucester

    Hi Dave

    Very interesting set of a nice old church. We should all take a leaf out of your book (and Frank's) and provide more explanatory info in our posts !

    I particularly like #5 and #6. I think it's the compositions, the green moss on the roof and the blue door. They look "so English". We dont have scenes like that to photograph here

    Dave

  4. #4
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    Re: St Mary de Lode, Gloucester

    Wow Dave! When you decide to do something, you go full tilt boogie!

    The background on the church does indeed add to the enjoyment of the images. The church does seem quite small. In the first image from the back, the bell tower appears to be the biggest part of the church!

    When I shoot JPG I’ve learned to do AEB whenever possible to compensate for the lack of dynamic range offered by RAW processing. I often find that normal and under are useful but the over image rarely contains anything that adds to the final image. I also find that in the absence my 16.5 mm FFE Tokina that I often end up having to stitch two 24mm images together.

    Speaking of JPG, someone posted a while back that folks shot in RAW so they wouldn’t need to get the exposure right in camera! LOL!

    Shooting in sequence helps understand the layout of the church so for me, that helps.

    About the only thing I can think of without a UWA that would help #1 is to get as far back as possible but if you can’t back up, that’s going to be a really tough shot. It might be worth trying to get just the top part rather than the whole monument and clipping the sides.

    Nice PP job on #2 in perspective and holding down the distractions.

    In shot #3 I have learned that even if you can, it isn’t always best to correct the perspective. Sometimes an image looks better with the perspective intact! This is a situation where an additional -2EV shot and blend in PP may have provided a more realistic and pleasing sky. After all, your eyes adjust for that, why can’t we let the camera do the same?

    The blue door is interesting for a church. I don’t see that where we live. The cropping feels a little tight.

    In #5 and #6 the image is similar but I feel that #5 flows better.

    The last one has two points of interest, the tower and the detail of the back of the church. As you already have a good one of the tower I would have been tempted to concentrate more on the detail in the deteriorating wall and roof. Nice job on bringing out the shadow detail!

    These images help point out an important principal; in many shooting situations, the photographer carrying the camera is more critical to the final result than the camera that is being carried by the photographer.

    Nice set Dave!

  5. #5
    Moderator Donald's Avatar
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    Re: St Mary de Lode, Gloucester

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    ... have I succeeded in giving a feel for the fairly compact nature of the church?
    Yes. I think the approach taken has provided a very clear documentary record of the building and the set does, I feel, give us a very clear picture of the building in its environment.

    Quote Originally Posted by Dave Humphries View Post
    #7:
    St Mary de Lode, Gloucester
    I'm not sure this works as a photo, but I did learn a lot processing it.
    I think this is the image within the set that is least pleasing to the eye. It requires more mental effort to take it in. That is because, I think, of the extent of the perspective distortion. As an image in its own right, fine. But as part of this set I feel it doesn't 'fit', because it is so 'different'.
    Last edited by Donald; 30th October 2012 at 10:22 PM.

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    arith's Avatar
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    Re: St Mary de Lode, Gloucester

    An interesting little church very well presented. Looks like a nice place.

  7. #7
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: St Mary de Lode, Gloucester

    Quote Originally Posted by KCBrecks View Post
    Very interesting shots of a picturesque English church. The details of the shots are most interesting and very full. One good point is the #'s 3 & 4 both have the steeley grey sky so typical of English summers, especially this last one, that often gets criticised as 'blown'.
    Hi Keith,

    Those are blown

    Now normally I don't blow them, I think I must have been admitting defeat since without RAW, maintaining detail in the lowlights while not blowing the thin cloud, bright sky felt like an impossible task

    That's also why I went to some lengths (in framing) to exclude most of it from the other shots, at least until it turned sunnier and I wasn't shooting into the light.

    Thanks for the kind words,

  8. #8
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: St Mary de Lode, Gloucester

    Quote Originally Posted by dje View Post
    Hi Dave

    Very interesting set of a nice old church. We should all take a leaf out of your book (and Frank's) and provide more explanatory info in our posts !

    I particularly like #5 and #6. I think it's the compositions, the green moss on the roof and the blue door. They look "so English". We dont have scenes like that to photograph here

    Dave
    Thanks Dave, yes they are pretty archetypal.

    Yes I like #5 and #6, although the latter is badly framed on the right.

    Frank started it
    (being educational about the subject)

    Cheers,

  9. #9
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: St Mary de Lode, Gloucester

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    Wow Dave! When you decide to do something, you go full tilt boogie!
    I wonder who I learnt that from; talk about "the pot calling the kettle"

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    The background on the church does indeed add to the enjoyment of the images. The church does seem quite small. In the first image from the back, the bell tower appears to be the biggest part of the church!
    Probably the nave has more volume, but I know what you mean, also the nave, with the smooth rendered walls is pretty boring, so I didn't include the one shot of that. I am using these words like "Nave" and "Chancel" like I know what I'm talking about, but really I don't, I had to google church architecture to try to figure out which bits of the potted history referred to what in my pictures

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    When I shoot JPG I’ve learned to do AEB whenever possible to compensate for the lack of dynamic range offered by RAW processing. I often find that normal and under are useful but the over image rarely contains anything that adds to the final image. I also find that in the absence my 16.5 mm FFE Tokina that I often end up having to stitch two 24mm images together.
    An admission; I have never bracketed or stitched
    I have occasionally shot frames with the intention of stitching, but when reviewing on the PC, they always seem to be impossible to do, so I give up before trying.

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    Shooting in sequence helps understand the layout of the church so for me, that helps.

    About the only thing I can think of without a UWA that would help #1 is to get as far back as possible but if you can’t back up, that’s going to be a really tough shot. It might be worth trying to get just the top part rather than the whole monument and clipping the sides.
    Good.

    Oh I could back up, but there was a set of railings around it, this was shot through those from about two feet above the ground. Getting further back at that angle probably was impossible, so I should have stitched, or as you suggest, shot less of it. I don't have a shot of it from further away, but Rebecca might.

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    In shot #3 I have learned that even if you can, it isn’t always best to correct the perspective. Sometimes an image looks better with the perspective intact! This is a situation where an additional -2EV shot and blend in PP may have provided a more realistic and pleasing sky. After all, your eyes adjust for that, why can’t we let the camera do the same?

    The blue door is interesting for a church. I don’t see that where we live. The cropping feels a little tight.
    Yes, as mentioned in Keith's reply, not sure why I didn't think of that for #3.

    #4 is like that to control flare and burnt out sky, the sun was right up there almost shining down the lens barrel

    Quote Originally Posted by FrankMi View Post
    In #5 and #6 the image is similar but I feel that #5 flows better.

    The last one has two points of interest, the tower and the detail of the back of the church. As you already have a good one of the tower I would have been tempted to concentrate more on the detail in the deteriorating wall and roof. Nice job on bringing out the shadow detail!
    #6 was badly shot

    #7 I hadn't thought of it like that (two subjects), so that's useful feedback too.

    The wall in #7 is fairly unobstructed, although more distant, in #6.

    I now wish I had shot more on that north side, it is interesting, as Dave said too.

    Thanks for the detailed reply Frank, very helpful.

    Cheers,

  10. #10
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: St Mary de Lode, Gloucester

    Quote Originally Posted by arith View Post
    An interesting little church very well presented. Looks like a nice place.
    Thanks Steve

  11. #11
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    Re: St Mary de Lode, Gloucester

    My pleasure Dave; next time you see the vicar you could point out that it is never good to plant trees so close to the building, they make the interior dark and more it more difficult to photograph. If I were there I would certainly be struggling and I have frequently failed where you have succeeded.

  12. #12
    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: St Mary de Lode, Gloucester

    Quote Originally Posted by arith View Post
    next time you see the vicar you could point out that it is never good to plant trees so close to the building, they make the interior dark and more it more difficult to photograph.
    I agree Steve, most are very mature, yet I see they have planted another at the rear (probably within the last 5 years or so) and that's going to block the light to that window (see shot #2).

    Cheers,

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