Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tower vaulting compared - Louth and Ludlow

click photos to enlarge
During my primary school years, in any spare moments that the teacher allowed, I loved to draw and doodle. And, as I progressed through my education, painting and drawing became subjects that I pursued academically in greater depth. However, picking up my theme of a couple of weeks ago, that everything important in my education happened in the primary years (age 5-11), I want to dwell on doodling. At one stage, when I was 7 or 8 years old, I had a penchant for making symmetrical patterns with a pencil and ruler. I'd start with a square, connect the corners with diagonals, find the centre of each side of the square, connect those, then build a pattern that developed from that basic "Union Flag" shape.

The other day, when I was processing these two images of tower vaulting, it suddenly struck me that my fascination with this aspect of medieval Gothic architecture may well derive from those childhood doodles. Look at the patterns here and you'll see those same diagonals and cross shape underpinning the basic structure in each instance. The central circle is there by necessity, and usually lifts out to allow access to the bells. The Ludlow design has cusping incorporated into the geometry, giving it a less regular feel, but the Louth vaulting is strictly rectilinear when seen from below.

Anyone who has explored this blog will have come across other examples of tower vaulting photographed from below, and all those other designs are individual. With today's images I decided that I'd use my widest lens which is 11mm (22mm/35mm equiv.) and make the columned piers that support the tower part of the composition. So, each picture has a centre illuminated by tower windows, and has four arches. Why does Louth have windows filling three of its arches? Well, that tower is at the west end of the church, whereas Ludlow's is a crossing tower, in the centre of the building, off which are the nave, the chancel and a pair of transepts. You can tell which is the chancel because it has the most elaborately decorated roof.

photograph & text (c) T. Boughen

Top (Bottom), where different
Camera: Olympus E510
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 11(22mm), 11(22mm)/35mm equiv.)
F No: f5.6, (3.5)
Shutter Speed: 1/80, (1/200) seconds
ISO: 400, (200)
Exposure Compensation: -2.7, (-0.7) EV
Image Stabilisation: On