alan frost photography

in monochrome with occasional colour lapses

Posts from the ‘Churches Project’ category

Churches Project no 20 – St Cuthbert’s Old Church, Oborne

St Cuthberts's Old Church-3

This tiny church in Dorset was built in 1533 and has historical and religious connections with Sherborne Abbey, which lies to the west. The name Oborne derives from the Old English words, woh and burna, and means a crooked stream. Although the above photograph would suggest a tranquil rural setting, the church is actually sited alongside the A30, a fairly busy road between Yeovil and Shaftesbury.

St Cuthberts's Old Church

The rustic simplicity of the church and the lovely light appealed to me, which resulted in these two internal pictures.

St Cuthberts's Old Church-2

I am particularly drawn to the light but also to studies of one aspect of a church interior. I don’t wish to record or capture everything in the one frame, and for this reason the image above of the light coming in through the open door and illuminating the altar rail and step appeals to me.

Like so many of these small, rural churches it is no longer used for regular parish worship and is cared for by The Churches Conservation Trust.


Churches Project no 19 – The church harvestman at Buncton

Harvestman in the church

There are occasions when something in a photograph only reveals itself when processing the image and is not ‘seen’ at the time of pressing the shutter. This happened with this image. I was attracted to a vase of dried flowers standing on a small carved stone shelf plinth in All Saints Church, which is in the parish of Wiston with Buncton in West Sussex.

It was only when I made the image that I saw the harvestman in the top left corner of the frame. A small but I think now important detail in the shot. To see it for yourself you might want to click on the picture above to view a larger version, or for the sake of simplicity I have included a crop below.

Harvetsman detail

Interestingly a harvestman is not a spider. Although it has eight limbs and looks like a long-legged spider, it isn’t one. It is one of the Opilones, a group of arachnids closely related to spiders. Unlike the spiders, it has no silk glands so is not able to spin a web. It does not have fangs and does not produce venom.

This church had another floral display in an arched recess formed from what was previously the southern entrance doorway of the church.


Another interesting detail  – A piscina in the south wall near the altar……


And finally, the altar table and a small recess with three candles had all the signs of other past inhabitants.




The church is mainly Norman, has Saxon origins and is largely unrestored. Hidden from the road it is approached through a wooded dell and over a stream. On entering the graveyard, the church reveals itself and enjoys a picturesque setting adjoining open farmland. A quintessential rural location for an unspoilt country church in the South Downs.

‘Drawing with light’ – church interiors

The word ‘photograph’ is derived from two words in Greek. ‘Phōtós’, genitive of ‘phōs’ meaning light and ‘graphé’ meaning representation by lines or drawing. In other words a photograph is ‘drawing with light’.

Piscina of light

Piscina of light

This image is of a piscina, which is a small bowl used to dispose of water in services. It is often set in a wall, as it is here. In flat light I doubt I would have even considered taking a photograph, but lit by the sun coming through a window on the opposite side of the church, this simple architectural feature is transformed. The shape and texture are revealed and there is a depth to the picture which without the light would not be evident.

I am always looking for these brief moments when natural light is at play inside a place of worship. Here are a few more examples.

Shadows and the Cross

Shadows and the Cross

St Davids Cathedral-5

Hymn Books

Chancel step

Chancel Step


Three Windows and a Pulpit

Candlelight in The Priory

Candlelight in The Priory

St Davids Cathedral-17

Light and Shadow in the Nave

I have quite a collection of this type of image, made over a number of years, so some you may have seen before.  Whenever I revisit these photographs, which have been ‘drawn by light’ I am always inspired to make even more.

The Shepherd’s Altar, Didling

Shepherd's Altar

The Church of St Andrew at Didling in West Sussex is tiny and wholly lit by candles. It is affectionately known as ‘The Shepherd’s Church’. Tucked away in a field beneath the South Downs at the end of a track off Bugshill Lane, it is well hidden by a large yew tree which must be many hundreds of years old. This simple country church is Norman in origin and dates back to the early 13th Century. In times gone by it would have served a much larger community until the village virtually disappeared after the ravages of the plague.

It’s been quite a while since I have made any ‘church images’ so when I visited Didling yesterday as part of my ‘new project’ I was pleased to find the church open. I was even more pleased to find that the light shining through one small south facing window was coming in at just the right angle. The sun illuminated the beautifully simple altar table and the cross in particular. Adorned with two vases of fresh tulips, thankfully this church is still very well cared for but completely unspoilt.


St Davids Cathedral – capturing the light

There are many reasons why I enjoy being in a church or cathedral. Making photographs which capture the light inside these special places is just one reason – it gives me a great deal of pleasure.

Regular readers of this blog will know that I can spend many an hour waiting for the right light. There are also occasions when little or no waiting is required and a sixth sense just tells me I should be inside even when the sun is shining outside. Photographing St Davids Cathedral on the first afternoon of my visit to Pembrokeshire turned out to be one such occasion.


St Davids Cathedral


I had driven the best part of 300 miles that day and had arranged to meet Andy Beel FRPS and the three other photographers in our group at 4pm. The light was good and St Davids Cathedral was only a short walk from our small hotel where we would be spending the next few days.

Bathed in the late afternoon light the Cathedral and grounds looked lovely but as soon as we arrived I instinctively knew that I should be inside and not outside. I just had a feeling that the lighting conditions could be working their magic and so it was.


St Davids Cathedral-4


The combination of the strong low sunlight and the shadows that were being cast only lasted about half an hour but it was more than enough time for me to capture the five images that make up this post.


St Davids Cathedral-5


St Davids Cathedral-3


St Davids Cathedral-2


During the course of the week we did return to St Davids Cathedral at different times of the day, but the light was never quite as good as that brief encounter on the first afternoon. I am sure my fellow workshop participants captured some good shots outside, but I don’t regret my decision to have acted differently and I hope they have forgiven me for disappearing so quickly after our first meeting.

I will be posting more entries and photographs of this Cathedral in the near future.