Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Votive candles

click photo to enlarge
The lighting of candles to mark a vow or a prayer is a practice of long standing. But whereas one can perhaps see the rationale in medieval times - a lit candle illuminated the building, and was a display of care, concern and devotion that involved a small, but significant cost - it is perhaps something of a surprise that it continues in these days of electrcity, LEDs and the like. Or perhaps not. Maybe it is the fact that it is a tradition of long standing that appeals to people and causes them to continue with it. Today it can also be seen at impromptu tributes to a deceased person and pop music concerts. My image, however, shows three votive candles that I came across in a Lincolnshire church. They are quite common in Roman Catholic churches, but these were in a Church of England building where such things are often taken as a sign that the incumbent and the congregation is "High Church".

Often votive candles are arranged on a metal stand in tiered lines, though I have seen a cross-shaped holder. This one was circular and had about half its potential candles burning. Occasionally, in medieval churches I've come across what must have been an early forerunner of the votive candle stand - the cresset stone. This is a slab of stone with several holes bored or hammered into it so that tallow and a wick can be placed in each to form a candle. They may also have been used as a safe form of lighting in what were then much more inflammable buildings.

Today's image was hand-held in a dark corner of the church. I tried for a composition that involved a curve across the frame with the nearest candle in focus. I dialled in -1.0 EV to ensure that the flames retained detail and weren't reduced to a large white glow.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Lumix LX3
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 10.2mm (48mm/35mm equiv.)
F No: f2.6
Shutter Speed: 1/80
ISO: 125
Exposure Compensation: -1.0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On