St Jame Church – Taking the photographs

After months of trying to get around to take photos of St James Church, I finally managed to make time today to pop into the church while it was empty and photograph a much of the church as possible, using the list of items that David, the vicar, had come up with.

I didn’t manage to photograph the organ loft or inside the bell tower because I couldn’t get into them. However, I did cover everywhere else in the church that I could reach.

In the end it took about 2 hours to take all of the photographs and I made use of various pieces of equipment. My tripod, flash unit, 40mm macro lens and 300mm telephoto lens. In total I took over 400 photos. In addition to this I have a set of photographs I took several years ago when we had heavy snow so I’m including those as part of the project.

After performing a first pass through the photographs I’ve reduced the total number (including the snow pics) to 398. Using the 100/50/25/10 process I’ve done a first pass through and reduced the total number to 188. This includes at least one of each item that I needed to photograph, which will make reducing the overall set of images very difficult. For instance there are about 20 individual boses on the ceiling, so there are 20 photos to start with. Each of the figures on the wall needed to be photographed and there are at least a dozen of these. In total I think the final set will be somewhere in the region of 150 images, which I’ll need to edit in order to present to David in order to decide on the ones that he wants to use for the church guide and children’s guide.

Thinking about the task after I’d finished taking the photographs I feel like this has been more about documenting the church than anything else. Even if only a tiny number of the photos are used the sum total provides a historical record of the church as it was today.

As soon as I’ve gone through the photos, got it down to one of each particular item, and then edited those then I’ll share a selection of the ones I like best.

I plan to make use of as many of the techniques that I’ve learned so far during the course when editing the images.


St James’ Church Project

David Keen, the vicar at St James’ Church in Yeovil wants to update some of the material that is provided to visitors and children who attended the church for one reason or another. To do this a series of photographs based primarily on the photographs used in the existing leaflets will be required. The list below is the starting point.

1.       All stained glass windows (including close ups of the 4 main figures in the big window)

2.       Pulpit

3.       Cross on pulpit

4.       Hare and dog on arches by pulpit

5.       Close ups of heads in roof with names

6.       Aumbry (the box where we keep communion bread and wine, to the side of the main altar)

7.       Communion table with cross

8.       Side chapel (with some candles lit) through open chapel doors

9.       Church through main door (with all lights on)

10.   Star candle holders

11.   Close up of painted bits of the roof

12.   Font

13.   Outside from Preston Rd

14.   Church room from churchyard at back

15.   Whole church from organ loft

16.   Close up of scallop shell either in banner or window

17.   Pics of each of the wall plaques (side chapel, outside main door)

18.   Lectern

19.   Bishops chair

20.   Ringing chamber

21.   Bells

22.   Clock from outside

23.   Emblem on glass doors

24.   Headstone fragment in the glass case on the North wall

25.   Anything else that looks interesting, or could be put into a children’s guide to the church (e.g. things for them to find/discover as they look around)

My initial thoughts about the project are:

·       That it will be a good project to do.

·       That it will be possible to take photographs of the outside of the church from across the road using a tripod.

·       That a tripod will be needed for a number of the photographs of items inside the church.

·       That I can do the entire shoot during my lunchtime as one of David’s initial thoughts was that it should take about 30 minutes to do.

·       That is the wrong time of year for one of the shots of the outside of the church. This shot would be much better taken in the spring when one of the trees is full of pink blossoms and so adding an extra bit of colour to the shot.

What are going to be the challenges?

When do I try and do the project?

·       My immediate thoughts about this are that it needs to be when the church is quiet, or there are other people taking photos. Trying to do it when there are a lot of people around is going to mean distractions and people getting in the way.

·       Secondly, taking photos inside the church, the available light needs to be taken into account. Although the church has lights that can be turned on it would be much better to either use natural light or be able to use flash. Personally, I would like to take the photos using just natural light. This means being at the church either in the morning or afternoon. If I aim to do the project at around mid-day, although the light nay well be quite harsh, I think minimising shadows will help with outdoor shots of the church. But then there are some photographs; such as those where candles will be lit that would look much better when it was darker, so it’s possible that this project needs to be done in two or more stages.

·       Some of the things that need photographing are going to be in areas of the church that normally the congregation don’t get access to. The organ loft and the bell tower are good examples of this.

I like the idea of this project, I’ve taken photos in and around St James’ before, admittedly most of these were done with my camera on Auto Mode, so having proper access to the church to do something like will be fun.


St James’ Church, Yeovil from Preston Road – 4th December 2008 – Nikon D40 ISO 200 1/320 sec f/9 28mm

Path leading to entrance to main part of St James’ Church, Yeovil from Preston Road – 4th December 2008 – Nikon D40 ISO 400 1/400 sec f/3.5 18mm

Rear of St James’ Church and part of church room – 4th December 2008 – Nikon D40 ISO 320 1/500 sec f/5.6 18mm