Somerville College Chapel
Uniquely, this is Oxford’s only un-consecrated chapel. It has no religious affiliation, so the large Reginald Bell stained glass west window depicting Christ comes as a surprise and juxtaposes the ‘undenominational’ intent of the building. Unusually, with vivimus approved and cartoon drawn, there was no Somerville chapel. Indeed, Bell is possibly the only glass-painter to have been commissioned to design a window and then to find an architect to build a chapel to house it.
This had the potential of being a straightforward shoot, with a spacious organ loft positioned at the perfect height for undistorted images. Sadly such plans were ruined by the placement of three chandeliers that followed the central line of the building:
With the chapel having just one stained glass window, and following feedback on my Work in Progress Portfolio, I experimented for the first time with capturing it in two images. To play safe, I also captured the window as a single image – this I did both from the floor and the organ loft, to the left and to the right of the central line (to avoid the chandeliers). Multiple exposure blending necessitated a batch of 20 images per shot, so this ‘straightforward’ shoot ended up taking just under an hour and totalled over 150 images.
Shot at 300mm f/8.0, the selected batch was shot from the organ loft, to the left of the central line.
The combined image was the result of over 15 hours of editing in which there was only the slightest image distortion: lateral offset from the central line produced horizontal convergence, which I opted to correct. The final result had a healthy 25.5MP resolution.
Learning & Truth (Reginald Bell, 1935) Somerville College Chapel