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Ceiling of La Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain, 2022

Ceiling of La Basilica de la Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain, 2022


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One of the things I love about photography is the combination of creative and technical challenges needed to make a successful image. During a 2022 visit to Sagrada Familia, I had the idea of turning the ceiling lights into starbursts, so that they would support and enhance Gaudi's nature-inspired architectural patterns. To do that, I needed to set my camera on a very small aperture, f22. Setting a small aperture meant that I'd need a long exposure, in this case 0.4 seconds. There's no way I can handhold my camera steadily for that long, and tripods aren't allowed in the church. I needed another solution.

I found an empty pew in the center of the church and selected the aperture and exposure on the camera. I set it up to bracket three shots using the self-timer. Then I placed the camera on the bench pointing directly up at the ceiling. I waited until there were no people walking by and pressed the shutter. In my first several attempts, I didn't move far enough away from the camera and the corner of my head protruded into the frame, a middle-aged photobomber. I slid farther away and finally this set of shots worked. I combined and processed the three exposures using Aurora HDR, Lightroom and Photoshop.

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