Modern Christian artwork in the ancient St Hilary's Church in the Vale of Glamorgan, mainly built in the 14th and 16th centuries, though at least the Norman arch dates from the 12th century. It is the only church in the British Isles dedicated to St Hilarius of Poitiers in France. The church also has the stone tomb of one Thomas Bassett of Old Beau Pre, with a carved knight in armour lying atop, inscribed 1423.
Walking upward to the Tian Tan Buddha in the village of Ngong Ping, Lantau Island. The umbrellas were shelter from the sun, not the rain. Although it was only about 32C, the 80%+ level of humidity made walking up the 268 steep steps very unpleasant.
The giant azulejo tiled outer wall of the Igreja do Carmo in Porto is a great place for street photography. Unfortunately you have to be quick to capture people walking by. It's in a very busy part of town and the best vantage point on the opposite footpath is so narrow with a high wall on one side that you continually have to move into the equally busy road to let people get past. Despite spending a good half hour intermittently blocking the way for locals in intermittent rain, I missed what would have been a truly great shot; a clown in full costume and makeup, hands in pockets, nonchalantly walking by chatting away alongside a cowboy complete with hat and guns. No-one looked surprised. Don't ask me why, something to do with the university I think. I had to make do with photographing the ordinary denizens of Porto.
From the interior of a very old rural church in Kent. That's all I can remember of this place. It was the first time I'd used film kit for at least a year and I quickly came to realise one important difference in approach between digital and film photography. Before 2008, when I shot only film, I'd usually keep a small notebook handy to jot down the location, frame number and technical details of each capture. Handwritten, what we now call EXIF information. There's no need to do this with digital; the EXIF file automatically tells all. Except, that is (sans GPS widget), where it is you're at. So I was bumbling around with a kit bag of film gear, and I never thought to keep a record of which particular old church I was photographing among the several I visited that day.
Photographed in St Twrog's Church, Maentwrog. I much prefer ancient churches when they're empty. They have a wonderfully still, quiet ambience and the windows concentrate the light so well. But they can be very cold, even in summer.
Although I hold no belief in a deity and find the very concept of such both philosophically suspect and empirically unevidenced, I do confess to enjoying both the historical and ambient aspects of old churches. And they don't get much older than St Tanwg's church, sinking into the sand dunes just outside the small village of Llandanwg in North Wales. The stone building has been dated to the 13th century but the church is much older than that, attested by the presence of inscribed stones from 6th century, while St Tanwg himself is said to have lived a century earlier. It's rarely used for church services nowadays, but it's nearly always open during daylight hours and, if you're lucky enough to be alone, a place of great calm and moody photography.
In addition to Veronica, patron saint of photographers (and, apparently, laundry workers), photography and Christianity share two important concepts, that of light and darkness. In Christian symbolism, darkness reliably conveys the notion of evil, death and the unknown. In contrast, light conveys only positive aspects such as life, goodness and hope. For example, Genesis tells us that God not only created light, he also saw that it was good. The New Testament describes Jesus as the light of the world and the visionary revelations of John depict Heaven in terms of light. The medieval use of coloured and stained glass within European churches is probably the best physical example of Christianity symbolising the goodness of light; as if the colourful light of the heavens floods the interior of the otherwise dark church with goodness.
Although it appears as if Christian symbolism deals with light and darkness in rigid ways this is not always so. Some sects of Christianity view evil and good, not as polar opposites, but in relative terms, evil being the relative absence of good. This is not unlike how photographers see things. A dark scene can be illuminated but an illuminated scene is not made darker by adding darkness, only by reducing the amount of light. An underexposed scene can often be post-processed to reveal physical features but a grossly overexposed, blown-out scene has lost all such features to the light. Thus to the photographer, darkness is not a thing in itself, either physically or symbolically, but a relative, and eminently measurable, degree of light. And, of course, photography cannot exist without some light, for without at least some photons hitting film or sensor, no image is captured.
Photographers are able to manipulate the light and darkness in a scene in two ways. First, symbolically, they might purposely include a large amount of darkness within the frame (labelled, fittingly, as negative space) to convey the notions of evil, trepidation, unknown, horror etc. Second, they might also include negative space or relative darkness simply as a means of diverting attention to the subject of their image.
As an atheist, I view Christian imagery and iconography wholly as depictions of mythology and consider them to convey stories and ideas and perhaps some abstract truths, but not necessary literal truths. This gives me much to play with in terms of interpreting the imagery as photography because I feel no onus to deal with the symbolism according to tradition, or to present Christian imagery in the ‘right light’. Consequently, although I freely use Christian imagery concerning itself with death, I do not naturally equate the symbolic use of darkness with evil. Rather, I sense solitude and calmness, ignorance, or the unknown, all of which are able to be dispelled by the light.