Although my recent trip to Norfolk was primarily to photograph wildlife, it’s always good to see what else is in the area that might be worth photographing too. Cathedral interiors are particularly good for when the weather forecast doesn’t look great; there’s always plenty to photograph and you won’t get wet!
So, with a dull day forecast, it was off to Norwich I went. I will admit it didn’t get off to a great start. Wanting to travel slightly lighter than I normally do, I packed only my essential gear into a shoulder bag. It’s not a camera bag, but with some cheap padded inserts from eBay, it does the same job for far less money. Anyway, to save on space I removed the battery grip from camera. It wasn’t until I was in the Cathedral with my tripod set up that I realised the quick release plate was still attached to the grip! aaargh, I had no way of attaching the camera to the tripod. I quick look online brought up WEX photography, I knew they were in Norfolk somewhere, turns out only 10 minutes drive from the Cathedral – back in the game I thought! On arriving at WEX I heard my name being shouted across the car park, by strange coincidence, a mate from back home was there – you can’t go anywhere can you. Of course I had to explain my schoolboy error and reason for being there.
After a chin wag and a dozen laps of the car park nearest the Cathedral, trying to find a spot, it was gone 1pm before I was ready to start shooting. I did a reccie of the entire building first, looking for the best spots before I spent time setting up. I’d taken my 24mm tilt-shift lens, ideal for preventing converging verticals, something usually frowned upon in architectural photography. But, as you can see from the images, I clearly didn’t bother on some of them. I think in certain circumstances converging lines can add impact.
To keep the ISO at 100 I had to use a tripod, plus using a tripod helps tighten up your composition. I also used a remote shutter release cable and mirror lock-up to reduce vibration as much as possible. Now as this was my first visit, I was working quite fast as sunset was at around 3.45pm, I thought the light was only going to get worse. Turns out I was wrong, as the light faded they turned on the interior and exterior lights, which were far more dramatic than the available light I had been shooting in. This meant I had to go round and shoot everything again, but it was worth it. The image of the spire and cloisters definitely wouldn’t have worked as well using only daylight.
Whilst cathedrals interiors are ideal for rainy day photography I would like some decent exterior shots too, so I’m sure I’ll be returning. There’s no admittance fee (donations welcome) and you’re allowed to use a tripod, you just have to remain mindful of where you are and others around you. I was treated to the local school practising for carol service; it really added to the atmosphere, especially when they sang Gaudete [“Rejoice” in Latin], a medieval Christmas Latin carol – click the link, it’s not actually them, but you’ll get the idea. I’m not religious, but it’s hard not to be moved on some level when you’re in a cathedral.