Project Development

Nuffield College Chapel

Some six weeks after my initial request to photograph Nuffield College Chapel (HERE), I was granted supervised access, which was somewhat restrictive where possible visiting times and dates were concerned.  However, today was that opportunity, but for the first time I was having to conduct the work without a planning visit.  As a result, I opted to travel with a larger than normal selection of lenses to cover every possible situation.

Dominic Price (2019) Nuffield College Chapel – the liturgical west end, featuring the three lights ‘Symbols of the Stigmata’ by Patrick Reytiens (1961) and the interior design and furnishings of John Piper.

The small chapel lies within a former attic space and was designed in the 1950s by one of the College architects, Thomas Barnes.  Its location dictate the orientation of the chapel and resulted in the liturgical east end (the chancel, containing the alter) being located at the south end.  The entire décor including the design of the pews was the work of English painter and print-maker John Piper.  Having worked alongside stained glass artist Patrick Reyntiens on large commissions including Eton College Chapel and Coventry Cathedral, Piper recommended Reyntiens’ work which resulted in the commissioning of five windows (eleven lights).

There were some wonderful benefits to photography in this space – not least the fact that the windows were immediately accessible at a height that would guarantee no need for post-production correction of perspective.  There were also some difficulties: the lack of space proved awkward on occasion when aligning shots; in some circumstances, the appropriate camera height resulted in the roof immediately outside the window becoming visible in shot.

Dominic Price (2019) 2 light liturgical south chancel. Unedited iPhone image [Patrick Reyntiens, 1961 – Nuffield College Chapel, Oxford]

However, the most demanding problem was the visibility of buildings and foliage through the windows.  This could be resolved in part by shooting at a smaller aperture, but that was not going to compensate for the huge difference created between a background that was partially pale yellow limestone and the bright white sky: either some complicated post-production work will be required, or this would help decide which lights were going to feature.

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