York Minster – A Study

I find myself revisiting certain places a lot. I like to do this because I enjoy the challenge of finding new compositions and images in these subjects. At first I might take some images using the most ‘obvious’ compositions, but once I have exhausted this, I find that I have to get up close and personal with the subject, to try and tease out some more interesting shots.

I’ve been doing this with York Minster a lot recently. Starting back at university has meant that I haven’t had as much time to travel, so my photography has been limited mainly to the city of York, and areas that are within walking distance of my house. It’s interesting to take such a prominent and well-known landmark like York Minster, and try to find something a bit more intimate in this Gothic colossus.

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York Minster, #3 (Lubitel 166B, Ilford FP4+)

This image, of the west face of the Minster, was taken on my Lubitel 166B, with Ilford FP4+. I was particularly attracted to the shadows cast on the stonework by a tree in front of the Minster, causing ripples of golden evening light to fall on the face of the building, and these ornate wooden doors. The benefit of a medium format 6×6 negative is seen here. The exquisite detail of the Minster’s stonework makes me want to study this image up close.

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York Minster, #8 (Lubitel 166B, Ilford HP5+)

This is the west face again, this time from a different angle. This was taken on a completely different day, with Ilford HP5+ (still with the Lubitel, a wonderful twin-lens reflex camera). Here the slight vignetting draws the eye up to the detail at the top of this ornate wooden door, the dark colour contrasting with the detailed stonework around it. The image is very soft-focus, with the sharpest part of the frame being the detail at the top of the door. I think this gives off a slightly pictorialist look, although I wasn’t intending that when I took the image.

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York Minster, #4 (Lubitel 166B, Ilford HP5+)

Now we’ve moved away from the west face. Here the light from inside the Minster contrasts with the night outside (this was taken at about 7am). This illuminates the beautiful stained-glass window and makes it stand out against the darkness surrounding it. The only thing I don’t love about this image is the slight flare from the lights inside the Minster. If I were to take this shot again, it would be from a slightly lower angle, to avoid the direct light.

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York Minster, #7 (Lubitel 166B, Ilford HP5+)

Finally, we come to the door on the south side of the Minster. Recessed beneath this beautiful archway, and surrounded by ornate pillars and the decorative arch, the wooden door fades into black at the top, leaving an area of mystery near the top of the entrance-way, accentuated by the shadow provided by the overhang. As with the images of the western doors, this is once again shot with a soft focus (I don’t think the Lubitel 166B’s lens is very sharp at f/5.6 or f/4.5) which adds an unintentional glow to the scene.

I’ve enjoyed critiquing these images, and I’m glad they turned out as well as they did. I believe there are some more images of York Minster, hiding away in undeveloped rolls of 120 film somewhere on my shelf, so it will be interesting to see what they hold. I hope you’ve enjoyed this. I enjoy writing these critiques, so it would be great to hear your thoughts as to whether or not you’d like to see more in-depth posts like this in the future.

The Castle in the Night

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Clifford’s Tower, #02

This is Clifford’s Tower, York, taken on Saturday night. The castle is lit by lights all around it, while the land and the sky merge into one shapeless black form. The medieval structure floats on nothingness, like some kind of ghostly apparition.

52 Weeks of Yorkshire – Weeks 29 & 30

I love walking through York at night. Like any place, it takes on a completely different character when the streets are devoid of life, ensnared in darkness. I’m drawn to this side of the city, as you can probably tell from my work with Ghosts. There’s a beautiful calm to the streets of York at night, and sometimes, when life is hectic and your mind is overwhelmed, there’s nothing better than a late-night stroll.

York at Night, 01
York at Night, #01
York at Night, 02
York at Night, #02

The Church of St Lawrence

The most difficult thing about moving to a new area is finding that, without even realising it, you had built up all of your habits and activities based on your previous location. This is especially true of my photography. When I moved house in June, I found that all of the places I loved to photograph, once within walking distance, were now too far away to visit, especially now that I’ve started full-time work.

Now that I’ve settled in, I’ve begun exploring my new location. On Lawrence Street, in the city of York, is the Church of St Lawrence, the second-largest religious building in the city. This beautiful structure has been my subject over the past few days, and I am very happy with the results so far.

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Church of St Lawrence, #01

I love using photography to get to know a place, and that is my intention with this church. Expect many studies in the future.

52 Weeks of Yorkshire – Weeks 27 & 28

I’m still catching up – it’s now week 33, which puts me 5 weeks behind after these images. Nonetheless, I’m committed to producing a photo for every week (with the exceptions of those weeks that I’ve previously talked about), even if these images are taken long after the weeks for which they were intended.

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York City Walls

This first image brings us to York City Walls. These walls surround the medieval city, and have stood for centuries. One of my fascinations, both with regards to photography, and in general, is with the monuments left behind by our ancestors. Sometimes these monuments are intended as such, like the Minster, but these walls were never intended to inspire awe in future generations – or at least, that wasn’t their main purpose – but to defend the city from attack. It’s rare that you get to walk the circumference of a centuries-old structure, still as stable today as it was when it was built.

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Tower, Church of St Lawrence

This second image comes from the grounds of the Church of St Lawrence. Many people know of York Minster, but York has plenty of other churches dotted around, each with its own story. There has been a church on this site as early as the 12th Century, although the current church is more recent. The current church is the second-largest religious building in York, which, given the size of the Minster, is impressive. I can’t say I’m particularly religious, but part of me is thankful to those who are for providing us with such beautiful monuments. They would say it is a monument to God, but I am more inclined to say it’s a monument to the beauty that we human beings can create.

York Minster: A Study in Suggestion

The other day I found myself in York with my camera, so I decided to go and visit the minster. It was the middle of the day, and the sun was shining brightly. I wanted to try something a little bit different to my usual architecture shots. I wanted to try making the Minster a near-silhouette against the bright blue sky, and the results are fitting of an old Gothic cathedral.

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York Minster, #01

In this image the Minster towers above like a Gothic giant. I changed the blue-tone levels in Lightroom to simulate a red-filter, giving the dramatic effect seen in the sky, which serves to accentuate the dark form of the cathedral. The form of the Minster itself is intimidating but vague, having been nearly reduced to a silhouette, and this really draws me into the image.

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York Minster, #02

This image is not quite as intimidating as the last. It features a close study of part of the Minster, with two adornments jutting out into the soft white cloud. The clouds themselves aren’t as harsh and contrasting as in the first image, and this gives the image a softer tone. Again, the Minster is mostly obscured, with only a few details visible, forcing you to really study the image.

These are two images of York Minster that I really like. They are not just studies in the form of this beautiful cathedral, but also studies in the use of light and form to suggest, rather than to tell. I like that. I’m not telling you anything with these images. I make suggestions, and it’s up to you to fill in the blanks.

52 Weeks of Yorkshire – Week 22 & 23

This one is a bit late. It’s Wednesday of week 23, and I got so caught up in celebrating the end of exams last week that I didn’t get a chance to submit week 22’s image, so there are going to be two images for 52 Weeks of Yorkshire this week!

The weather this week has been miserable. It hasn’t stopped raining since Monday morning, and it’s been frustrating not being able to go out on the few days I have free this week. Last night I finally gave up, and left as it was getting dark. Campus was completely empty, the rain having forced everyone inside. The university has a very different atmosphere when there are no students to be seen.

Campus at Night, 01
Campus at Night, #01
Campus at Night, 02
Campus at Night, #02



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Millennium Bridge Woods, #01

Yesterday I wanted to take my newly acquired Praktica MTL3 out to shoot some film, and so I set off down the road to the Millennium Bridge. This is a path I take very often, but this time it was different. As I approached the woods, I looked to the right, and spotted a trail I’d never noticed before. I’ve been here more times than I could count, but I’d been so focused on walking through the woods that I failed to notice this obvious path leading off in a different direction. My intentions in coming here all the other times had given me tunnel vision. So often when we’re out we’re so focused on what we’re doing that we fail to notice our environment. Only when you resign yourself to wander freely, without intention, can you truly find new places.

52 Weeks of Yorkshire – Week 18

A few days ago I decided to get up at 4am to try and catch the sunrise at Clifford’s Tower in York.

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Clifford’s Tower

This tower is the keep of a medieval Norman castle in York, first built during the 11th century, following the Norman conquest of York. The castle was built during an uprising from the local population, as houses were destroyed to make way for the new construction. The castle was seen as a major security asset in the North, playing a key role in many conflicts over several centuries.

Most of the castle is gone now, with only the keep remaining. This building, now archaic by the standards of modern architecture, stood the test of time and now remains to remind us of our past. There are plans to add a visitor’s centre to the base of the hill, but I think this would be a mistake. The surrounding area has already been cleared of its ancestry to make way for modernity, but we should strive to preserve at least some of our history in as pure a form as we can.