ARCHIVE 580 – THE CHAPTER HOUSE STEPS (MONO)

 

 


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The Chapter House Steps in Wells Cathedral, Somerset; 7 Jan 2005.

I have to hold my hand up here and at once acknowledge that this photo has already been taken by hundreds of other photographers – just search for these steps on Google if you don’t believe me; an early (perhaps the first?) photo of these stairs was taken in 1900, by Frederick Henry Evans.

Near the top right of this photo, the steps can be seen turning right into the Chapter House. Straight ahead, through the illuminated doorway, is the bridge that allowed the clergy to come directly into the cathedral from their lodgings, rather than having to be exposed to worldly temptations by mixing with the townspeople.

See how the edges of the steps have been worn down by the tramp of countless feet over the centuries.

Click onto the image to open a larger version in a separate window – recommended.

Technique: tripod-mounted OM-4 with 21mm Zuiko lens; Agfa Scala monochrome slide film, rated at 400 ISO.

March 2015 update: three things come to mind.  First, I like this image but don’t really think its “my kind of picture”.  Yes, its a beautiful and historic place, the image has nice tones and there are the worn steps to emphasise just how old this place is.  But, that said, its still just a record of an architectural interior, and I’m not sure that shakes my tree.

Second, it was taken on a now discontinued film that I used to regard as being one of the greatest casualties of the Digital Revolution – it started life as an Agfa Scala black and white slide.  Nearly all of my photography in those days used colour slides (aka transparencies), which I used to give slideshows on a Leica projector – and it was so good to be able to include mono shots along with the far more ubiquitous colour.  And Scala was a rough and tough film – rated at 400 ISO, it could be push processed to 1600 or 3200 ISO – and I was in my dark and moody, monochrome element!

However, I used to regard this wonderful film as a great loss – but now find that scanned versions offer far less potential for digital manipulation than full colour, raw files.  Most digital cameras can of course capture black and white images straight off but, particularly if substantial post-capture editing is anticipated – as it is in all of my mono photography – then shooting in full colour raw and then converting to mono is the way to go.

And, lastly, today is a minor anniversary, because this picture was taken with an Olympus OM-4 film SLR that I bought second hand on this day 12 years ago, as a means of getting back into photography once more.  Olympus OM film cameras and lenses were absolutely something else – light, compact and with excellent mechanical and optical quality.  I shot film, mostly as slides (transparencies), which was a great discipline – but in 2009 very abruptly changed to digital – since when I have never shot another frame of film.  The advent of digital photography has certainly been the single most important event in my “photographic life”, because it provides such vast scope for creativity.

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About Adrian Lewis
Photographer - using mono, colour and combinations of the two - many types of subject, including Minimalism, landscapes, abstracts, soft colour, people, movement, nature - I like to be adventurous, trying new ideas, working in multiple genres. And I've a weakness for Full English Breakfasts and Duvel golden ale, though not necessarily together.

15 Responses to ARCHIVE 580 – THE CHAPTER HOUSE STEPS (MONO)

  1. Helen Cherry says:

    I love this. I think I have mentioned before that I still have my Olympus OM1 film camera but haven’t used it for probably 20 years. Keep saying I must!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Adrian Lewis says:

      Well I think like that about my OM-1 too – although mine is now full of mould. But, for me – which may not be for you – there’s always the thought that whatever I do with a film camera, I’m always going to have to get the film scanned and then take it on from there on the computer. LOL! and I suppose I’m lazy – and my digital cameras work so well and are so convenient to use, that I find myself just sticking with them. And, in particular, I find that being able to see exactly what the end result will be like, via a screen or electronic viewfinder, is really a huge boon. 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

  2. bluebrightly says:

    I do love worn, stone steps. Of course, I don’t see them out here but there were a few chances to see them on the east coast, and more of course, in Europe. When I enlarged it, I liked the warm tones…I’ve never heard of that film but then, I didn’t get serious about photography until the digital age. I agree that digital photography has been opened up unimaginable possibilities. It’s good to hear your positive take on your old Olympus. Mine has been superseded twice now but is holding up beautifully. (Though arch. interiors may leave you cold, I do think it’s possible to imbue them with a lot of feeling. Maybe the tendency to concentrate on the forms pulls us away from considering what emotional response can be conveyed).

    Like

  3. paula graham says:

    The famous steps, and so beautiful too.

    Like

  4. Meanderer says:

    I remember this image and I do like the atmosphere it conveys. I almost expect to see a hooded maniac appear through the archway at the top of the stairs …….. running after my ice-cream 🙂

    Like

  5. Wonderfull shot; love the atmosphere and the stairs leading up to the white entrance. Cheers!

    Like

  6. krikitarts says:

    It is so much fun to see how our experiences mirror each other–you with your Olympus and the Agfa Scala, and I with my Pentax Spotmatic and my Orwo and Tri-X. We switched to the digital realm within a year of each other–and the beat goes on.

    Like

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