Shove Memorial Chapel — a personal favorite

Shove Chapel's altar from the transept's crossing

I’ve had the privilege of photographing some exceptionally beautiful churches during the past year while traveling to Europe and Canada. The exquisite Norte Dame Basilica in Old Montreal, the impressive Old St. Peter cathedral in Munich, and the opulent St. Mang Basilica in Füssen, Bavaria provided wonderful photo ops and venues for spiritual reflection. Yet my hometown Shove Memorial Chapel on grounds of my alma mater, The Colorado College, is one of my all-time-favorite churches.

I got to know Shove well during my undergraduate years: I frequented her services, attended school ceremonies, and sang bass-baritone in the College choir, performing Mozart’s Requiem Mass, Brahm’s Germany Requiem, and Hyden’s The Creation (Die Schöpfung), among others.

Shove Chapel altar and Welte-Tripp concert organ

Photographically speaking, Shove is as intriguing a subject as it is challenging to capture. Austin photographer, Dave Wilson, points out in his recent contributed blog post, HDR Photography Tips: How Many Exposures Do I Need? that the required number of bracketed exposures is entirely dependent on the subject at hand. Shove Chapel has many dark, shadowy recesses and select areas of intense highlight, such as the sunbathed clerestory windows above the altar.

Shove Chapel - looking towards the narthex

I shot the standard three exposures, +/- 2 EV apart. I’m fairly pleased with my post-processing results, but there are blown-out areas. You can lighten a dark exposure and rescue detail, but clipped highlights are not recoverable. I may revisit Shove later this spring and try a 5-7 exposure series and also capture Shove’s majestic exterior. Stay tuned for more. Please click on these photos for larger view.

A couple of favorite church photos from photographers whom I admire…
Saturday Morning at Shove Chapel, A Day Not Wasted
Our Father, who art in heaven…, Chris Kenison Photography

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  1. Dave Wilson
    February 18, 2011

    Chris – there are some odd parallels here for me. The widest bracket I ever had to shoot was in the chapel of the University of Glasgow (11 exposures 2 stops apart, I think?) which, as it happens, was where I used to sing bass-baritone with the University Choral Society. The version linked here shows some blown out highlights on the stained glass but the original HDR file has all the detail – I was just lazy in my tone-mapping and post processing.
    Dave Wilson recently posted..MIT Stata Center- BostonMy Profile

  2. Chris Wray
    February 18, 2011

    Curious parallels, indeed. I see that The Univ. of Glasgow Memorial Chapel was built in 1929, around the same time as Shove Memorial. Bass-baritone…stands to reason. Great minds think and act alike! Thanks for sharing your story, Dave.

  3. Toad Hollow Photography
    February 18, 2011

    This is a great photo and a wonderful blog today. I really love the ornate details and architecture of classic churches like this. Wonderful work here, Chris.
    Toad Hollow Photography recently posted..House DemolitionMy Profile

  4. Chris Kenison
    February 18, 2011

    Nice article, Chris! Your images are great too! I especially like the first one. It has great contrast in it. The way the dark pews transitions into the lit alter area and as your eye continues upward it gets a bit darker. I love that!

    Also, Thanks for the track-back to my Cathedral shot! I really appreciate that!
    Chris Kenison recently posted..At Attention – FFF- Featured Follow Friday – Jesse Pafundi aka @dude-withcameraMy Profile

  5. Chris Wray
    February 18, 2011

    @ChrisKenison — Many thanks for your thoughtful comments. You get exactly what I was after: lead the viewers’ eye upward! I selectively darkened the foreground and even softened the focus, just a touch to move the viewer up the stairs toward the altar and ultimately to the ornate ceiling. The 10-22mm really helped, too!


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