Sunday, October 19, 2008

Picturing Swaton church

click photo to enlarge
"In counties less rich in ecclesiastical architecture Swaton would be outstanding."
The Buildings of England: Lincolnshire, (2nd Ed 1989) Nikolaus Pevsner & John Harris, revised by Nicholas Antram

"One of the lesser-known marvels of Lincs., magnificent and cruciform with central tower and enormous Decorated traceried windows; the nave arcades soar upward - with nave and aisles under single roof. A most distinguished looking church."
John Betjeman's Guide to English Parish Churches (1958 & 1993) John Betjeman, new material, Nigel Kerr

"What did Swaton do to deserve this aristocrat of a parish church?"
England's Thousand Best Churches (1999) Simon Jenkins

Well, given that build-up, and looking at my late afternoon photograph of what appears to be a fairly unexceptional church, you can be forgiven for wondering what all the fuss is about. However, with the end of its nave right up against the road, and hemmed in on both sides, St Michael at Swaton, Lincolnshire, is notoriously difficult to do justice to with a single photograph. This shot, from slightly south of east doesn't display the magnificent fourteenth century reticulated windows of the west of the building, the embattled nave and aisles, the lovely proportions and arrangement of parts, or, of course, the almost cathedral-like effect of the high and wide interior. In fact my image really does sell the church short! On the other hand it illustrates its context, and shows the sylvan churchyard setting, most of which, apart from small areas close to the entrance, is allowed to grow quite wild. It's a building that presents a real challenge to the photographer and I shall return with the intention of capturing something of its distinctive character when the trees have shed their leaves.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 11mm (22mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/400
ISO: 100
Exposure Compensation: -0.7 EV
Image Stabilisation: On