Sunday, May 20, 2012

Shadows, light and a font

click photo to enlarge
As fonts go the example at Swineshead church in Lincolnshire is very plain. So plain that it is impossible to date it from any stylistic details. It has an octagonal bowl on an octagonal stem with a base the same shape, like the great majority of fonts. It is mounted on an octagonal plinth with a raised step for the vicar, again, like many others. Where it differs from most other fonts with steps is in having two rather than three. The church has always seen great significance in the number three and the three steps of a font are thought to be in recognition of the Trinity. Given that the font offers little of interest or beauty, you must be wondering why I've bothered photographing it, and if you have visited this blog for a while, why I've photographed for a second time (the first attempt is here).

The answer is - the placing of the font and the light, especially the light. Many church fonts are found by the south porch door: next to the main entry door into the church was deemed suitable for the instrument that delivered a person into the Church through baptism. Often that means the font is squeezed up against pews, or is in a corner surrounded by tables, stacks of hymn books or even fire extinguishers. At Swineshead, however, the south porch door is no longer used, entry is by a small door embedded in the west door, and consequently the font has lots of space around it. The Victorian restoration provided a wonderful tiled floor with a pattern centred on the font. Combine all that with the position of the windows, and it makes a good photographic opportunity.

In my first attempt, referenced above, I went in quite close, excluded the windows, but used the strong light and shadows from the window and its tracery as part of the composition and interest. With this shot I thought I'd include the reticulated window, give greater emphasis to the space and darkness, and make the softly illuminated font and striking tile floor the visual focus.

photograph and text (c) T. Boughen

Camera: Canon
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 21mm
F No: f8
Shutter Speed: 1/20
ISO: 125
Exposure Compensation:  -1.0 EV
Image Stabilisation: On