Wycliffe Hall Chapel – Revisited
In the climatographical lottery that I play every time I confirm a date for a chapel visit, today appeared so poor that I was tempted to cancel and rearrange: temperature 11°C higher than the historical average and a brilliant blue, cloudless sky. Experience told me that this would likely result in harsh shadows on the glass in addition to unfavourably bright interior light. However, it was going to be a lovely walk to the location…
For this visit I was afforded a slot from 3pm until 4:30pm, so on arrival, bright sunlight was pouring in through the mostly plain glass west window. To my surprise though, with the ambient light being so bright, the east window was lit very well by diffused, reflected daylight – producing near-perfect conditions for photography (so long as the bright beams of light from other windows remained clear of the window).
With the Hall Principal being so keen to utilise an image of part of one of the lights for a condolences card and me ever keen to photograph any Nativity scenes, I opted to capture six views: the entire window and then the bottom half of each light, depicting scenes from the life of Christ.
The window east was installed in 1927 to mark the Hall’s Golden Jubilee and is believed to have been designed by the same artist as the John Wycliffe window. However, the hall is unsure of any further details. These were photographed from the organ loft at the perfect height to avoid any distortion. A total of 103 images were shot at 117 mm for the entire window and 400mm for the close-ups, using the Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, at an aperture of f/8.0 and exposure times ranging from 1/15 s to 5 s. To date, I have edited the five lower panels and suspect that I will not work on the entire window.
Despite the bright sunlight radiating through the west window, I investigated its photography: irrespective of focal length or aperture, from the organ loft there was no viable solution to avoiding the buildings and vegetation outside. However, from behind the altar at the east end of the building, there was an uninterrupted view mostly devoid of detraction. While the viewing angle necessitated correction of perspective and the very bright backlighting presented some difficulties with glare, the results were very pleasing. A total of 17 images were shot at 321 mm using the Canon EF 100-400 mm f/4.5-5.6L IS II USM lens, at an aperture of f/8.0 and exposure times ranging from 1/60 s to 0.6 s.I have a final visit lined up in mid-March which will allow me to compare the colour and saturation of my images with the two windows.