How the Art Happens - San Francisco de Asis Mission Church

April 15, 2020  •  Leave a Comment

San Francisco de Asis Mission Church

San Francisco de Asís Mission Church copySan Francisco de Asís Mission Church copySan Francisco de Asís Mission Church is a historic and architecturally significant church on the main plaza of Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico. Built between 1772 and 1816 when New Mexico was part of the Vice-Royalty of New Spain, it is one of the finest extant examples of a Spanish Colonial New Mexico mission church, and is a popular subject for photographers. It was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1970

I love the architecture and materials used to create the Spanish missions in New Mexico and southern Colorado. Every time I visit one of these churches I'm overwhelmed by a sense of peace and serenity. Visiting when there are no other people around probably helps.

This church a few miles south of Taos, New Mexico is one of the most-photographed buildings in the world. Ansel Adams brought it to my attention first. That may be the reason I really like it in black and white. He was enamored with the huge buttresses at the back of the church. They have been the subject of many artists in every medium imaginable. They are interesting but I think my job as an artist is to show you something new that you haven't seen before. So, I went around to the front of the church. I really love the wall and entry gateway. The space is pretty tight so I had to use a very wide-angle lens from a really low point of view to get the crosses on the top of the bell towers in the image. This point of view allows the walk to create great leading lines to the church and highlights the stonework of the walkway. Framing the subject this way adds depth to the photo and helps keep your eyes in the scene.

Most of the time when I try to frame my subject the end result seems contrived and corny. I think the textures and tones in this image help the technique work to create a cohesive photograph. The bright, white cross on the top of the wall helps too. The sky was not awesome on this particular morning so I searched for compositions that helped get as much sky out of the photo as possible. Creating a successful photograph frequently requires getting rid of distractions even more than finding a great subject.

Thanks for reading my story about the "San Francisco de Asis Mission Church". Now you know what the front looks like!


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Crested Butte, Colorado photographer, Dusty Demerson creates fine art photography displayed as prints and canvases and provides private photo tours in and around western Colorado.

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