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How To Photograph Churches And Cathedrals – Part 2


11 February, 2021


How to photograph churches and cathedrals – part 2


In a recent blog we gave you the basics on etiquette, gear and technique for shooting the exteriors of churches and cathedrals. In the second part of our tutorial, we’re going to talk about the much trickier interiors, where the light is poor and it’s essential to be quiet and unobtrusive.

Essential gear


A good quality tripod and a camera that can shoot multiple bracketed exposures are essential for photographing church interiors. A wireless release is also very handy because it’ll speed up the process and allow you to shoot more images before you outstay your welcome. Oh, and if your camera has a ‘silent shutter’ setting, use it!

HDR is your friend


When it comes to capturing the most important features of a church interior in a single shot – the stained glass and architectural extravagance – HDR is by far the best technique. Because of the extreme nature of the dynamic range inside a church, it’s helpful to have a camera that allows you to shoot at least five exposures covering +/- three stops above and below your baseline reading. Without this feature you’ll have to reset the camera manually after each shot, which takes time and increases the likelihood that you’ll have some ghosting (images that don’t line up properly) in your final image.

As with all HDR post processing, we always recommend a ‘less is more’ approach, but this is even more important with church interiors because turning the sliders up to max will result in cartoonish stained glass windows and chromatic noise issues in the shadows. Tread carefully and your final images will look tasteful and elegant – exactly the right feel for the church.

Church Architecture


Details tell the story


Getting into the habit of shooting the details as part of your set of photographs goes a long way to telling the story of the day or subject matter. A church interior will have plenty of material for this such as:

Shoot down the line of pews with a wide aperture for an arty image
Capture some shots of the altar, stones carvings, close-ups of the stained glass and any ornate decorative features.

Don’t be afraid to up the ISO on your camera because you’ll be shooting these details handheld and you absolutely cannot use any flash. This is where image stabilisation comes in, so use lenses or camera bodies that have this feature if you can.


Church Candles


We hope that you’ve enjoyed this tutorial and feel brave enough to venture to your local church to capture some great images. You never know, you might come back with something that would look great printed on canvas and hung on your wall!


11 February, 2021

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