A Cautionary Tale.

A few weeks ago I returned to my favorite Cathedral in the _MG_5145fe1UK, which is of course Gloucester Cathedral. What followed was an interesting lesson in overconfidence.

My goal had been to revisit the place one last time (at least for the forseeable future) and get some improved shots with my new camera.  Some of my favorite pics were taken with the old 400d and more significantly with the crappy kit lens.  I had thought to retake a few shots and had planned of a few new angles and perspectives.

When I returned home with my proud collection of perfected pictures I was faced with rubbish shot after rubbish shot, which was more than a little crushing.  What I was hoping would be my Gloucester swan song was a selection of crap that made me wonder what the point of having a swanky camera and stupidly expensive lens, if the results were infinitely worse than the old set up (which was a fraction of the cost).

After a day or two of moping around I decided that feeling all sorry for myself was far from constructive, so I studied the new shots and the older ones for why things had gone so wrong.


And then I realized what should have been blindingly obvious, a factor so stupidly simple it would be like not seeing the sun in the sky.

In fact, it was the sun. The simple fact is that the sun is lower in December than in June.  Which meant that rather than the gentle and wonderful warming light that evenly lit the cathedral…I had harsh direct light glaring through the glass, casting odd colored reflections from the stained glass and creating very bright patches that blew out all the highlights and dark shadows that were underexposed.


This is all a lot of waffle to say that the sun was too strong, and I should have seen it coming a mile off.

All this is not to say I came away with nothing, I managed to get some ok shots that will no doubt appear here, but I didn’t get the shots I really wanted.

But, taking the positive from all this, really looking at the information attached to the pictures (f-stop, exposure bias etc) and comparing and trying to puzzle out why some shots failed is a very instructive thing to do.

I like to believe that mistakes are more informative and constructive than successes.

Mistakes make you better and are an opportunity to learn.

This post as gone on for much longer than I intended, and I suspect no one will get this far.



5 thoughts on “A Cautionary Tale.

  1. The post was very informative. The composition has intriguing, if unintended strength. Your use of perspective, camera angle, and line are obviously very effective in the layout & framing of the shot. While the harsh light was not what you had intended, it does create an interesting effect and communicates a message. The harsh light and sharp colour creates a very modern technological feel which of course is diametrically opposed to the subject-setting of the shot. The image represents , however unintentionally and perhaps ironically, the tension between the modern view of the world and that of the cathedral ‘s architects & artisans who created it. Sometimes the act of creating art leads the creator & the audience to unexpected places. So I say well done ! 🙂

  2. I think photographers learn much more from our “mistakes” than from our successes, but only if we take the time to study them and understand why. This is the mark of a maturing artist. You have a wonderful eye and I look forward to seeing what you create in the coming year.

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