Seeing beyond the church at Mission San Jose

Tree with Character #1, Mission San Jose - San Antonio, Texas

Tree with Character #1, Mission San Jose – San Antonio, Texas

Mission San Jose is one of the 5 missions that are located in San Antonio, Texas. They were founded by the Spanish Missionaries in the late 18th century. While the Alamo is the most famous of the missions, Mission San Jose is known as the “Queen of the Missions” and is the most impressive.

I went there last week on a 4th grade class trip. While I did photograph the famous church itself, I was drawn to the bare trees that stood by the old mission walls. I love the structure of these “trees with character” and its contrast to the highly textured stone walls. I’m back on a HDR kick of sorts and I took my tripod and my Olympus E-PM2 to create these images.

I’ve been doing more HDRs recently for several reasons. First, it allows me to be deliberate, encouraging me to more precisely frame a photograph. Using a tripod, setting it up and waiting to take 3 exposures takes a bit more work than my recent free-form style. It’s not quite as exacting and precious as film but it does get me to slow down. Also, the look of HDRs is different with its simulated dynamic range and increased detail. I get a richness and color that a regular exposure does not produce. Finally, with my newest Olympus E-PM2, I now have a truly light weight setup that creates photos with, a no compromise, HDR quality. No need to lug my Canon 7D and bigger tripod with me.

Tree with Character #2, Mission San Jose - San Antonio, Texas

Tree with Character #2, Mission San Jose – San Antonio, Texas

This is my third time at this mission. On the first two occasions, I made the obvious photos. Multiple angles of the church exterior. The requisite shot down the middle aisle towards the altar. Sure, I shot those again, just in case. But I feel most proud of these alternate shots. The less obvious ones that perhaps not everyone would see. As I train my eye and improve as a photographer, I’m trying to create the less common photographs. Not totally unique, maybe, but something that breaks the “me too” mold. Not an easy task given that there are some many good photographers taking more photographs than ever.

Note: The last photograph is a black and white HDR. They don’t have to be in color and the HDR processing brings out more texture and detail. I didn’t like the color in this photo and the ground was much too cluttered and distracting. I found that the black and white conversion created a more compelling image.

Tree with Character #3, Mission San Jose - San Antonio, Texas

Tree with Character #3, Mission San Jose – San Antonio, Texas

Photographs taken with my Olympus E-PM2 with the 14mm f2.5 lens and the Panasonic wide-angle adapter.

Click on the photographs to see a larger image and hover over the photos to see the exposure detail.

6 thoughts on “Seeing beyond the church at Mission San Jose

  1. I love the shadow play and angle in the top image. Sometimes I have to get back to a place 3 or 4 times before I get the photos I really want. It’s gotten easier though believe it or not because of Google Maps. I can take a look at layout of a place and roughly calculate my sun to get there at the best time of day.

  2. These are beautiful. Very much to my taste.

    Do you have tips or start points for your realistic HDRs (Photomatix or other, starting points etc) . I don’t wish to intrude if these are part of your “secret sauce”. I did look for a post on your site but failed to find anything.



  3. I really like the effect of the bare tree in front of the vanishing lines of the rock wall. I would have never guessed that these were HDR images, if you hadn’t said so. I really like the colors that you captured (or created in HDR).

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