Posts from the ‘cathedral’ category

The Chapter House – making amends for a missed opportunity

Chapter House-8

Doorway to The Chapter House

The last time I visited Wells Cathedral back in 2015 I did not go and see, let alone photograph, The Chapter House. Why, I cannot tell you, as it is arguably one of the finest features of this glorious building and one not to be missed, but somehow I did!

Earlier this week I made amends and as well as photographing other parts of the cathedral I spent quite some time in The Chapter House, walking up and down the famous staircase, which is often referred to as the ‘Sea of Steps’. As you might imagine this is a very well photographed subject so trying to make an ‘original’ image is nigh on impossible. Nevertheless its beauty, its proportions and its truly majestic architecture are quite breathtaking. I hope you enjoy this collection of images.

Chapter House-9

The ‘Sea of Steps’ staircase leading to The Chapter House

Chapter House-3

The Chapter House vestibule

Chapter House-7

The central column and roof inside The Chapter House

Chapter House-4

Another view of the Chapter House ceiling

Chapter House-5

Looking up – taken from the vestibule

Chapter House-2

‘Study’ inside The Chapter House

Chapter House-1

A more abstract view of the ‘Sea of Steps’

I have copied this extract from the Cathedral’s website about the history of The Chapter House –

‘The Wells Chapter House is the only octagonal chapter house to be built as a first storey on top of an undercroft, which was the ‘strong room’ of the cathedral. A crypt would not have been practical because of underground water. The undercroft itself, with its rugged supporting pillars, was certainly constructed by 1266, just after the completion of the West Front but work, first on the staircase (1265-1280) and then on the Chapter House itself(1286-1306), proceeded slowly.’

For my other posts about Wells Cathedral do click on the links below.

A quote by St Francis of Assisi reminded me of Wells Cathedral

A Monochrome Masterclass and a visit to Wells

As always do click on an image to view a larger version

Another entry with more images of Wells Cathedral will follow soon.


Churches Project no.8 – St Mary Magdalene Chapel, Chichester Cathedral

St Mary Magdalene Chapel


My Churches Project has been rather quiet of late; in fact it’s nearly 3 months since I posted anything new, but I now have more time on my hands so I can start visiting and photographing the many churches and Cathedrals I wish to visit.

To get things underway here is an image taken this week of St Mary Magdalene Chapel in Chichester Cathedral, West Sussex. The main feature is a painting by Graham Sutherland (1903 -1980) entitled Noli me tangere (Touch me not or Do not hold me). Painted in 1961 it depicts Christ appearing to Mary Magdalene on the first Easter morning.

I like the beautiful and quiet simplicity of this chapel – The polished stone table covered with a pure white cloth. The two candlesticks on each side and the modern painting set against the aged stone of the Cathedral.

Do click on the image to view a larger version and be able to see more detail particularly of the painting itself.


A Monochrome Masterclass and a visit to Wells

Chimneys and cobbles

Chimneys and cobbles
Vicars Close, Wells


Last weekend I was staying near Bridgend in South Wales so that I could attend a ‘Monochrome Masterclass’ being run by Andy Beel FRPS. It was an excellent day. Cameras never saw the light of day but the four participants, including myself, had the opportunity to share our work and discuss ways in which our monochrome images could be improved. Andy provided a comprehensive set of notes for us to take away, as well as showing us many examples of his own work to illustrate the points he wanted to get across.

For me it was a very thought provoking day. So often my photography is reactive, not planned, and I realise I need to give much greater thought to the images I am taking. Why am I pressing the shutter at that particular moment and from that particular position? What do I want my images to ‘say’ to the viewer? Am a trying to put together a body or panel of work? Am I working on a particular project, whether short or long term? Do my images have a certain style? Does it matter if they don’t? After all an image can stand on its own, although a collection of images can work even better if you are trying to tell a story or make a statement. All these questions require thought and hopefully some answers. In many ways they are not just about photography and could be applied to many other art forms.

The workshop took place on Saturday. I stayed overnight and planned to return home on Sunday, picking my daughter up from Bath on the way. This would give me some time on Sunday morning to take some photographs. Unfortunately the weather was appalling. Heavy rain and strong winds ruled out any outdoor photography, so I decided to head for the Cathedal City of Wells which is about a 20 minute drive from Bath. It would give me the opportunity to take some images inside the Cathedral and in and around the city if the weather improved. Wells is a small and beautiful City and with hardly any tourists around there was plenty to see and photograph. The wet conditions actually worked to my advantage as the  photograph at the top of this entry illustrates. I think the wet cobble stones really add something to the atmosphere of this shot.

Here are a selection of other images –


The Scissor Arches

The Scissor Arches


The Nave, Wells Cathedral

The Nave, Wells Cathedral


Underneath this stone

Underneath this stone

I particularly like the above image. The light on the line of chairs and on the memorial floor stone are ideally suited to monochrome. The fact the chairs are empty, could be interpreted as people who are no longer with us but the inscriptions in the slabs mean that their lives will be remembered forever.


The Cloisters in Wells Cathedral

The Cloisters in Wells Cathedral

A classical and arguably a rather cliched view of the cloisters but one that just had to be taken.


Cloisters in Wells Cathedral

Cloisters in Wells Cathedral


Cloisters' End

Cloisters’ End


South Aisle, Wells Cathedral

South Aisle, Wells Cathedral

Something I learnt on the workshop – From a compositional point of view something on the the edge or in the corner of an image can work well; you don’t always have to apply the ‘rule of thirds’, in fact it can be rather boring and repetitive if you do!


Wells Staircase

‘Vicars’ Staircase

This staircase and doorway leads from Vicars Close back towards the Cathedral. Warn steps and doorways have great appeal to me. You just can’t but help wonder how many people over many centuries have walked up and down this staircase and opened and closed the arched door.


Wells Catherdral

Wells Cathedral
An empty cafe on a wet day, overlooking the Cathedral


I thoroughly enjoyed my short visit to Wells and like so many places it’s definitely worthy of a return journey. Nor will I worry if it’s raining or not. In fact the inclement conditions kept the crowds away and in the case of ‘Chimneys and Cobbles’ made the photograph all the more interesting.

All of the images in this post were taken with an Olympus OMD EM1 and Panasonic 12-35mm f2.8 lens, processed in Lightroom and Silver Efex Pro2. Click on any of the images to view a larger version.

Finally a big thank you to Andy Beel and to the other participants of the Monochrome Masterclass. In March I didn’t post a single entry on this blog but hopefully my creative juices have started to flow again!

St Albans Cathedral – a quick visit

South Aisle of Nave, St Albans Cathedral
Vaulted ceiling of the South Aisle of Nave 

A couple of weeks ago I needed to make a round day trip to Chelmsford in Essex, a journey which is almost impossible to do from my home without joining the M25 at some point or an other. On the way up from the south coast I headed east knowing that I would have to wait in a long queue of traffic to go through the Dartford tunnel. True to form the cars moved at a snails pace, but the queue coming back the other way looked even worse, so my return journey would take me along the northern section round the M25 in a westerly direction and through Hertfordshire. A longer route home but hopefully I would keep moving.

Journey sorted, I took a detour to the rather attractive town of St Albans, specifically to look round the Cathedral and take some photographs. Most cathedrals offer a wealth of photographic opportunities. Architectural features are plentiful and the light can be very special. St Albans is no exception. It has a very long history and is thought to be the oldest site of continuous Christian worship in Britain.  According to the official website the cathedral stands in a place where Alban, the first martyr, was buried after giving his life for his faith over 1700 years ago – more than 200 years before St Augustine arrived in Canterbury.

I have never visited St Albans before, so I was looking forward to visiting another of this country’s wonderful Cathedrals. Limited for time before driving home, I was able to take a number of images which I hope show the splendour of this great building.

Lady Chapel, St Albans Cathedral
Lady Chapel

High Altar Screen, St Albans Cathedral
High Altar Screen

Chantry, St Albans Cathedral

Presbytery  Door, St Albans Cathedral
Presbytery Door

Looking towards the Lady Chapel, St Albans Cathedral
Looking towards The Lady Chapel

West Door, St Albans Cathedral
One of the three West Doors of St Albans Cathedral

I very much enjoyed my brief visit to St Albans Cathedral. Sadly there wasn’t time to explore the town itself but if I find myself in the area again then St Albans will definitely be on the list of places to explore and to photograph of course!

All the photographs in this entry were taken with my recently acquired Leica M Monochrom and 50mm Summilux and 28mm Elmarit lenses.