Archive for the ‘Church’ Tag

The Big Easy   1 comment

St. Louis Cathedral, New Orleans, LA

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

I recently returned from a trip to New Orleans with my youngest son during his senior year high school spring break. New Orleans offered a varied mix of culture, history, food and local flavor deserving of  any southern city of its size.

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

My son and I avoided the decadence often associated with the city and instead, walked along the alley ways of the French Quarter meeting a few of the eclectic people and places along the way. Street musicians dotted the streets and entertained passerby’s as the sun warmed the day. I have always been intrigued by street performers. These are individuals who do what they love and despite the obvious financial hazards of street performing, are willing to entertain with a smile in the hopes of a small contribution to their well being.

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

Eager to venture off the beaten path, we took a day to travel outside the city. At the top of our list of places to visit was the Oak Alley Plantation.  Cameras in hand, and tripod at the ready we waited until each room emptied or the view was unencumbered so that we could quickly set up the shot and take a few photographs. Strolling the grounds after our tour, we walked the length of the walkway lined by the live oaks, stopping as we went to photograph the plantation and take in the beauty of the magnificent trees.

Oak Alley Plantation

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

© 2013 Paul Coffin Photography

The trip to New Orleans was a short one, but my son and I squeezed in a drive through St. Bernard’s Parish, a trip to a the marshes on Lake Pontchartrain, Oak Alley Plantation and plenty of walking through the city. We ate well and enjoyed each others company. It will be a lasting memory we will share.

As always, thanks for stopping by.


Napa Valley in the Fall   2 comments

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

Napa Valley, like most wine producing regions has a mystique all its own. There is of course the wealth effect of fine wine and certainly Napa, like many famous wine regions, suffers the ills of the highbrow, that for me can sometimes be off-putting. Be that as it may, there are many welcome and hospitable vintners who, once past the pretense, proudly share the history, flavors and nuance of their wines. Fall in Napa is a sight and smell to behold. Driving along  Redwood Rd. towards Hess Collection winery, in the rolling hills north-west of Napa, the air is filled with the aromas of grapes crushed and fermenting as well as those still hanging from the vines.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

Honestly, I can’t say for sure what I was smelling but it was sweet and delightful. Late October generally marks the end of the harvest, so I was a bit surprised to see grapes still hanging from the vines.

Hess Collection is a winery owned by the Swiss art collector, Donald Hess, on land leased from the Christian Brothers, who occupy a nearby retreat and conference center. Nestled in the hills 7 miles from Napa, this quiet location offered a nice respite for a quick afternoon visit to the area.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

I quietly approached the chapel and found someone who kindly gave me permission to photograph the interior of the church. This image is composed of 9 frames so that I could capture all the highlight and shadow detail. Despite the lack of ornate architecture, the rich colors of the wooden pews and tile floor provided a pleasant contrast to the white walls  balanced with the wooden trusses of the ceiling.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

I was pleasantly surprised to see grapes still hanging on the vines, expecting to see empty vines with fading fall colors. Instead, I was greeted with plump bunches of  bright blue grapes, suspended against green, rust and orange leaves and twisted brown vines. After a light wine tasting I headed back along the quiet roads to make one more stop in Napa for a late lunch.

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

The Uptown Theater, in downtown Napa,  made for one last series of photos before I left the area for the day. I could not help but add a duotone effect to add to the nostalgia of the art deco theater. For a brief moment, I was taken back in time and imagined the theater in its days of antique cars, wealthy local socialites draped in fur and black tie affairs that surrounded the Golden era Hollywood premiere. Those really were the days.

As always, thanks for stopping by.

Pucallpa Peru   1 comment

Catedral de Pucallpa 

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

The beginning of my second week in Peru, I flew to the river port city of Pucallpa, Peru, where I boarded the boat that would take us to the very remote village of Santa Rosa on the Ucayali river.

This image of the interior of the catholic cathedral was taken hand-held and of course is a HDR photograph.

Mass was spoken in Spanish and we were clearly the only foreigners in the pews.  The week I was there, it was the week prior to the feast of Corpus Christi and the people were preparing to celebrate the event. We were greeted with smiles and felt very welcome. One gentlemen even invited us to stay the day to take in the fireworks and celebrations taking place later that evening; regrettably, we could not stay.

I have been very fortunate to travel with work, but I must say, Pucallpa was among the most remote and certainly most foreign of any city I’ve visited. It was not a clean city and was very much a fishing community surrounded by a more industrial environment. Densely populated and feeling very third world, it was none the less a place that the people seemed happy living in. It was difficult for me to unravel my North American sensibility from the experience and not to judge it by that bias. Despite all that, there were places of beauty, as there always are, in surprising settings.

Working Hands   Leave a comment

© 2012 Paul Coffin Photography

Reflecting on yesterday’s blog entry, I was reminded of a photograph I took last year while on a trip to Charleston, SC.

Up until the time I was 8 years old, my bedroom window looked out, beyond the safer boundaries of my backyard, onto a cemetery. It was not a morbid fascination I developed back then to the mysteries of death and of our society’s burial rituals, but an attraction to  the sense of place being in a cemetery so vividly creates for me. With a surname like Coffin, I guess it only stands to reason that I should be so fascinated.

On the day this photograph was taken, I wandered, as I often do, into the midst of a cemetery filled with the heavy weight that the symbols of our passing bring to us. All that was missing was a light fog rolling onto and gently over the tombstones and final resting place of so many souls, to set the scene as I experienced it that day.

Much to my surprise, as I rounded the bend of the church that stood in front of the graveyard, I almost literally stumbled into the man who sat idly and eerily quiet in front of me, resting himself and finding a peaceful quiet in the midst of the city of Charleston. I was, regrettably, afraid, an emotion one feels when confronted with the unexpected. I took pause not to disturb him, stepped back a few steps, lifted my camera and snapped a couple of pictures. He did not move a muscle, and I could feel my breath getting heavier for fear that my intrusion might also startle him.

I was filled with a multitude of emotions that are as fresh for me now as they were then. It was clear he was a working man; hands calloused by labour I could only imagine. The hood of his jacket lifted over his head to give warmth during the cool early morning hours. His shoulders pressed forward and his posture symbolic of the hopelessness of his fate and yet it was his hands, clasped and solid, strong and unflinching that have stayed with me since.

I slipped out of the cemetery unnoticed and left him as I found him, but I was not as I had arrived. Who was he and what brought him to “this” place? I wonder what those hands are laboring at today.

Interesting People and Places   3 comments

Carlos Durán Sanatorium (a.k.a Sanatorium of Prussia)

I obtained this explanation of the buildings from a website on haunted buildings in Costa Rica.

The large complex set near the Irazu Volcano in Cartago served several purposes during its functional life: as a hospital for tuberculosis and leprosy patients, an insane asylum (under the name Sanatorio Carlos Duran) as well as an orphanage for children. The complex is currently abandoned with guards patrolling the grounds during the day, though they say few dare to go there at night.

I wanted badly to climb the fence and go in, but I dared not. I saw a few people in the area and thought it best to stay outside at a safe distance.

Mountainside Church

76% of the population in Costa Rica is Roman Catholic, so it is not surprising that there are many churches in the city and in many small rural communities, along winding roads in the mountains. Sadly, many church doors are locked during the week due to theft, so I was only able to explore a couple of churches on Sunday before mass began. This particular church welcomed me with open arms, tripod and all. Translating for the local pastor, my colleague indicated it was ok to take pictures but that I should hurry up before the congregation arrived.

This photograph was taken from the edge of the parking lot looking out into the valley below. What a blessing it must be to leave mass on Sunday and to see God’s spectacular gift to us. Mother nature at her finest.

What strikes me most about people who live and work off the land, is the simplicity of their lifestyle and the pace at which they live. This man seemed to exemplify that sentiment and he willingly accepted my intrusive picture taking, as his patient demeener suggests. He stared back at me calmly, no doubt wondering why the heck I was so taken by this place and by him. In what little spanish I know, I thanked him for allowing me my simple pleasure.

This church, this view, this community was a spirit filled respite along a steep winding road in the mountains. Driving off the church grounds, I observed a number of families walking along the roadside, dressed in their Sunday best, on their way to worship and praise. Mine was a brief moment of feeling the depth and magnitude of this place of worship and it left an indelible mark.

Costa Rica   2 comments

Dinner For Three

I finally decided to stay for a couple of personal days in Costa Rica on my last business trip there. This time of year is beautiful there and I was treated to the best weather I could have hoped for. It’s been a while since I posted to my blog and I honestly missed the writing. As I was flying home from this trip, it occurred to me that while my blog really is all about my photography, it could be viewed as a travel blog of sorts. That is not my primary intention, but I will concede that the discovery and sharing of the places I have been to and seen is in many ways a travel log of sorts, the modern age journal.

Sunday Mass

On Friday at noon I was fortunate enough to be allowed to photograph the interior of the cathedral in San Jose. Mass was taking place so I limited my position to the back of the church. I love how HDR photography brings out the life in the architecture of older churches. They tend to be poorly lit and sometimes drab.

Volcan Irazu

My weekend included a number of destinations I had not previously visited in Costa Rica. A colleague was very kind to show me the sights and sounds of the country. I experienced my first volcano on Saturday morning of the weekend trip. It was a dormant volcano, but was exciting for me to see nonetheless.

The countryside of Costa Rica is spectacular. It is green, lush, full of life and color. Conversation at dinner refered to my exuberance as an “oxygen high”. That must be why the people of Costa Rica are so happy.

Morning Rays

It seemed everywhere I turned another breathtaking vista treated my senses.

Summer Solace

On this trip I chose to carry all my photography gear, including my tripod. I was conflicted about carrying the extra weight, but I am so glad I did. If I am committed to the craft I have to be willing to bring my tools of the trade. I think it paid off. When I take an excursion like this, I tend to set very low expectations for myself photographically. I tell myself if I get one great picture, it was worthwhile. It is like my golf game; I just need one great shot among a hundred or so to keep me coming back for more.

Withered with Age

Gentle Water Flowing

This was one of three waterfalls in a waterfall park I visited. It was located at a place a called Peace Lodge in Lapaz. The light was bright and I soon realized that I needed a neutral density filter on my lens to darken the light and further slow the shutter to capture the flowing water. I am pleased with the results and the lush green forest becomes a subject all its own.

The Choir Chair   Leave a comment

The Choir Chair, a photo by Paulco_CDN on Flickr

Traveling through the mid western part of Georgia on my search for an abaondoned church near Sparta, GA, I literally stumbled upon a second abandoned church ravaged by time and neglect. With reverence and some degree of trepidation, I ventured in to see what was inside. To my surprise, the pews, pulpit, piano and a few other artifacts were in otherwise reasonable condition, given the decrepit condition of the building.

I snapped a few photos, careful that I might not step on a loose board and tumble into some dark abyss below. The photo above is a 3 frame HDR photograph that I took hoping to extract some detail in the curtains and still maintain the shadowy feeling surrounding the dimly lit place I found myself in.  The photo below is also a 3 frame HDR.

If I am being honest, I was creeped out, but that didn’t stop me from further exploration. I had no doubt, in the back of my mind, something or someone would soon jump out from between the pews and scare the heck out of me. I have several great pictures from this place and am anxious to return.

Posted January 19, 2012 by Paul Coffin in Architecture, HDR, Photography, Travel

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