Friday, August 12, 2011

The poor man's fish-eye lens

click photo to enlarge
Skimming through this year's PhotoReflect images it occurred to me that I haven't posted any reflected self-portraits recently. So, in a bid to catch up with my self-imposed task, I took one recently in St James, the church at Castle Acre, Norfolk.

It shows yours truly reflected in the base of a large candle holder that was placed on the octagonal steps on which the font can also be found at the west end of the building. Behind me can be seen the Victorian tiled floor, the wooden pews, the nave arcades of the C14 and C15 and the distant chancel arch and east window. In recent years candle holders of this sort have become quite a common sight. They usually involve a tall, turned, wooden column (this one has a brass base) with a big, brass cup at the top in which is placed a very large white or cream candle. Often these have symbols or writing on them, usually in red.

Over the years I've seen a number of fashions and ideas circulate around churches. Many have set up play areas for young children at the back. I've seen small lending libraries too, as well as kitchens, small "cafe" areas and exhibitions about the history of the building and parish. At the east end of the church many congregations have brought the altar forward from under the eastmost chancel window to a point slightly west of the chancel arch: a development that meets the needs of the smaller congregations of today as well as the desire to make the people feel more a part of the service. The large candles have become an item of church furnishing that has grown in popularity. They are often near the font, perhaps having a symbolic connection with the entry into membership of the church that baptism confers.

I've shot reflected self-portraits in the ball at the base of ancient church chandeliers and achieved a similar "fish-eye" effect to that which the candle holder has given. In fact, I quite like this spherical distortion. However, I've never been able to justify buying a fish-eye lens. They are fairly expensive, and I have the feeling that it is a lens whose single effect would soon pall and it would quickly be put in a cupboard or sold. On the whole I'm happy enough using the "poor man's fisheye lens" when the right curved surface presents itself.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 40mm
F No: f7.1
Shutter Speed: 1/40
ISO: 3200
Exposure Compensation:  -0.33
Image Stabilisation: On