Saturday, August 22, 2009

Mission Espada

Interesting story behind this image. This is Mission Espada, the southern most mission in San Antonio along the San Antonio River and the mission trail. As soon as I got to San Antonio last Saturday, I went here and like most unplanned photo shoots ran into a few issues. First, this mission is oriented to the southeast, so late afternoon sun provided some horrible harsh backlighting. Second, there was a wedding here that ended about 10 minutes after I got there, so there were lots of people milling around for about an hour. I took a few photos, but my plan was to come back early Sunday morning and shoot with low, soft light. So, the next morning things seemed perfect. I got there around 7:30 -- no church service, great light, nice clouds, a couple of church cats playing around in the courtyard who seemed unusually fascinated with my tripod, and hymns being piped out of the speaker system into the courtyard. One problem: my lens fogged. There's nothing more frustrating for a photographer, and it always seems to happen at the worst time. Not much you can do, just takes a while for the glass to acclimate. Not wanting to miss the nice light, I started to shoot anyway wiping down the lens every now and then. I deleted some images right then and there, and after 15 minutes the lens was fine. When I got home and started going through images I noticed there were a few remaining images shot through the fogged lens. I was almost ready to hit the delete key in Bridge, but decided to see what would happen if I just went with the fog and took the image into a very moody, soft focus look. So that's what you see here, not for everyone's tastes and probably not one that I ever expected to make, but there's something about the styling that fits the subject matter. Sepia tone and grain were done with Nik Silver Efex; soft focus done with a cold lens on a hot day.


  1. Another way to achieve blur --- I love it! Actually I don't see any blur, the grain seems to obscure it and I think I might like this image better with less grain. But I love the crop here, I like seeing more of the base of the mission. The slight angle adds depth to those arches and it is really nice how the iron cross is set off by the light cloud behind it. The whole image is a little dark, is that the effect of the fogged lens? The black and white is nice but I would also like to see this mission in sepia. A great shot of a very interesting and historic church.

  2. Nice shot Steve!

    I like how your post-processing turned out on this one! To me you gave the photo a classic aged feel that inspires contemplation!

    Well done!

  3. Nice shot. I had this same problem in Malayasia a couple of years ago. Leaving the hotel's cold air conditioning and going directly into the warm humid morning air, you can imagine what happened.

    Some folks, I read, use a hair dryer to warm the lens to prevent this problem.

    Then again, this foggy lens method could save you some big bucks on a Singh-Ray Tony Sweet Soft-Ray Diffuser!


  4. You mean that you do not take a breath on your lenses to fog them up? Where did you lean to photograph?

    I have done this before and then started clicking off shots at various levels of fogging. You never know what you might get.

    I really like the B&W treatment. It goes so well with the subject. Good job.