And the Spirit Said…

ISO 200 | f/3.2 | 1/160th | GR III

Voice of the spirit
is poised to provide all which
you dare to receive.


A fair number of years ago I took a very similar picture of this church and posted it on my blog. As a matter of fact, it was one of several posts I initially wrote to kickstart my own website. This and few others started it all, convinced me to quit social media platforms, and let the creativity run amok; views, likes and thumbs up be damned…

The scene is very simple. A front view of a church, with a beam of light coming straight down and onto a pedestrian, just off to the side of a very large stone cross. I have made a 13×19 print of this scene and every time I would look at it and always say to myself that one day I’ll be back, retake it, and this time let the sliver of light go across the crucifix and not to the side.

That nagging thought in my head, incessantly repeating: “You’ve got to do this over, you’ve got to do this over…..”, nearly drove me crazy. And last week was finally that day when I forgot about my lunch, picked up my GR III and went shooting instead. I work nearby and can see the church from my window, so I timed my quick trip accordingly, as soon as the light started getting into position.

St. Peter’s church has a peculiar location, sitting in the very heart of Chicago’s Loop, the building is sandwiched between two towering office high risers and facing due south. Across the street from it are two tall buildings as well, with a very narrow alley in between. The very same alley I posted a picture from last week. This unique configuration allows summer sun to pass through this alley and fall straight onto the church, creating a narrow sliver of light, which travels across the center of the church.

The alley is not perfectly aligned with the crucifix and is slightly offset to the left, so a perfect vertical beam of light hits to the left of the cross and as it travels east across the crucifix, it slowly starts tilting diagonally, until it suddenly vanishes (within minutes). That can get very stressful very fast, because high noon is a peak hour of pedestrian and car travel. I had lost count how many cars or other pedestrians have photo-bombed my shots that day. The light vanished as quickly as it came. Definitely several dozens of takes had to be deleted, before I settled on a few good candidates.

I’ve timed it and between 12:45 PM and 1:15 PM seems to be the best time to stake out your position on the opposing sidewalk and start snapping away. Because of the height of the opposing buildings, between which the light passes through. this works only when the sun is high enough above the horizon (summer months) and you will be completely out of luck in the cold fall, winter, and early spring months where the beam is either only half way reaching the church from its roof, or not at all.

As I was sitting in front of my computer, processing and editing the picture, I was reminded where my procrastination was originating from. It took me over 2 hours to edit this single shot. There is a power line running across the street, completely ruining the shot and it took meticulous editing for it to vanish. There also are rather unsightly structures on each side, which I decided to remove by applying an aggressive edge burn on both sides. As an added bonus, this edge burn helps draw the eye straight into the center. I think this one is a candidate for a large print.

Categories: Architecture, Poetry, StreetTags: , , , , , , , , ,

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