Lessons Learnt / by Graham Dew

On the southern reaches of the city of Winchester lies the rather lovely church of St Cross. It has set of very attractive almshouses attached to it. I’m not sure if they still receive pilgrims and offer them shelter on their journeys, but there are a good number elderly residents who have their home there. It must be a very charming place to stay, located near to the river Itchen with views to St Catherine’s Hill beyond.

St Cross 2, November 2012 © Graham Dew
St Cross 2, November 2012

When creating joiners or still movies, I find it almost essential to have a reasonably clear idea of where I want to shoot and how I’m going to tackle the picture making. It helps to know where you need to go, how you might start to collect material for the image, which lens to use, and some idea how the final composition will be put together. All of these are good starting points, but sometimes the outcome is rather different to plan.

I had originally hoped to make a composition that took in a tree-lined path that runs to the east of the church, and included the church to one side. In this way I hoped to create an image of the church, almshouses and path that I’m sure many people have in their memory, but can’t actually be seen from a single viewpoint. I shot the material, but when I came to compose the picture in Lightroom I found that I had not really collected the right constituent pictures that were needed. 

St Cross 1, November 2012 © Graham Dew
St Cross 1, November 2012
As you can see, the finished joiner is effectively two separate images. The cells for the church and the cells for the path and trees work well enough. But I did not capture enough linking frames of the ends of branches, and have ended up with an uncomfortably sharp boundary to the trees. I also felt that the church was not sufficiently large enough in the frame, so maybe I should have walk closer or used a more powerful telephoto (which I don’t currently have).

Once I felt that I was through with the shooting of frames for this joiner I then walked up closer to start photographing the frames for the joiner that you see at the top of the post. Dealing with the flat distant planes of a building is much easier than tree branches in the foreground, and I quickly built up an image that looked in and around the church and almshouses.

So what were the lessons learned? Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.