Thursday, November 12, 2015

Photographing spires

click photo to enlarge
Pevsner calls St Mary Magdalen, Newark, in Nottinghamshire, "among the two or three dozen grandest parish churches of England." It is quite big - 222 feet (68 metres) long, with a spire reaching 237 feet (72 metres). The tower and spire of Newark church are a particularly fine pairing and a landmark that can be seen from miles around. The tower itself is unusual in that it is "engaged" i.e. positioned flush with the west facade. This isn't common. The lower part was begun in the thirteenth century (Early English). At the level of the bell openings we have a crocketed gable indicating the fourteenth century (Decorated). The spire above was completed during the same architectural period.

Newark's church is surrounded by a group of narrow streets and a fine, open market place. None of the surrounding buildings are particularly tall and so the view of the tower and spire are uninterrupted. This makes photography difficult in so far as a lot of sky is inevitable if you wish to include the complete spire. One answer to this problem is to tilt the camera and use trees, lamps and buildings to fill the area that would otherwise be clouds or sky.

Today's photograph was taken in just that way from a nearby footpath called Church Walk. The verticals were corrected in post processing. A November sky is, to my mind, one of the best for church tower photography. There is usually some interest in the clouds, which when combined with the shadows of autumn and any glint of sun make for an atmospheric feel.

photograph and text © Tony Boughen

Camera: Olympus E-M10
Mode: Aperture Priority
Focal Length: 16mm (32mm - 35mm equiv.)
F No: f6.3
Shutter Speed: 1/400 sec
Exposure Compensation: 0EV
Image Stabilisation: On