This is a picture of St. Giles' Cathedral which sits on the Royal Mile in Edinburgh's Old Town. Despite its name, St Giles' Cathedral is not, in fact, a cathedral. The title gives an idea of its magnificent scale, but was only strictly correct for two short periods when Bishops served in the Scottish Church, from 1633-8 and from 1661-89. A more correct name for it nowadays is therefore "The High Kirk of St. Giles" or the "High Kirk of Edinburgh" and it is now the principal place of worship of the Church of Scotland in Edinburgh.
I have previously posted a similar picture in colour but, looking through my archives, I thought this one might look quite nice in black and white. This is the west end of the cathedral seen from the northwest.
The origins of St Giles' date back to about 1130 when a parish church was built to serve Edinburgh during the reign of King David I. The church was originally granted to the Lazarites and its dedication was to St Giles as the patron saint of lepers. Over the years a building that probably started as a simple nave and chancel grew aisles along each side, plus transepts and a tower over the crossing.
In 1385 English troops under King Richard II sacked Edinburgh and set fire to St Giles'. The damage was quickly made good and over the following centuries St Giles' Cathedral grew organically: an aisle added on here, a chapel there. The main external change came in about 1500 when the tower was heightened and the stone crown added to its top. By this time St Giles had become a collegiate church, one served by a college of canons whose role was to service the many chapels and altars in the church and pray for the souls of rich patrons and their families.
The Reformation, the storm of change that swept across the Church in Scotland in 1560, was ignited by a sermon preached in St Giles' by John Knox on 29 June 1559. Knox went on to become Minister of St Giles' and his statue now stands in the nave.
By 1581 St Giles' served three different Reformed congregations and internal walls were built to separate the areas they used. Other parts of the church were used for a variety of purposes, including storage space for Edinburgh's guillotine, the Maiden. Except during the short periods when it was formally designated a cathedral in the 1600s, St Giles' spent much of the following 250 years divided by internal walls. In 1684 the crown on top of the tower was repaired, but otherwise the late 1600s and the 1700s were a period of stagnation and decay.
By 1800 St Giles' Cathedral was in poor condition. It had by now been divided internally to form four separate churches, plus a meeting house for the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, a police office and a fire engine house. It took a major restoration of the interior between 1871 and 1883 to finally remove the post-Reformation internal walls and return the church to the more unified, if still complex, space that can be seen today. This was largely paid for by the publisher William Chambers.
You can see some pictures of the interior of this church here and here.
Critiques | Translate
macjake (57490) 2013-05-10 17:22
Who would have thought i'd be writting a critique from Santiago Chile!!!!! I actually had NO intentions to do so.....i was just going to check my emails and such. That all changed when i viewed your photo here. What a shot my friend! What a shot! The dark light and the entire presentation is so beautiful to my eyes. Wouldnt change a darn thing. It looks haunting will still keeping a softer look too. What can i say....one of your best.
I should get going...getting up super early to catch a flight to cusco peru.
rogerl (1544) 2013-05-10 17:35
John, what a magnificent capture. The building gives you great material to work with, but the range of light in the B&W is really wonderful against the cloudy sky, with dark shades dominating. Fantastic detail throughout. Great shot! Thanks.
adidas5nb (5413) 2013-05-10 18:49
beautiful high contrast pic.like the b n w format.great pov,light management and details.
ACL1978 (7507) 2013-05-10 20:06
Really stunning work, John. You've put the 'gothic' in gothic cathedral here with the deeply dramatic lighting and perfect conversion to B&W. The glow of the fascinating spire against the cloudy sky is fantastic.
Your history of the place is wonderful, and of course you know I appreciate a long, historically erudite note! You don't say, however, what the building is today (or at least I don't think I saw it here). Does it remain an active church, or has it been re-purposed into a museum or other use?
In any event, this simply makes me want to visit Edinburgh even more, to get a crack at this beautiful building and the rest of the city!
jadesgran (5359) 2013-05-10 21:25
Wow! THis cathedral looks very impressive in monochrome.I am not a lover of same, but Les will love it so I will leave it to him to comment.
jjcordier (77026) 2013-05-10 22:52
Intéressante version noir et blanc de cette superbe cathédrale d'Edinburgh. Très bon cadrage.
SnapRJW (31613) 2013-05-10 23:53
Hello John - What a pleasure to see, I cannot imagine this could look any better as your conversion is tip-top. The way the building stands out so crisply against the softly shaded sky is exceptional and the tonal range and detailing is first rate. I'm so glad you posted this, it is such a change from the usual floodlit scenes we see in colour and so much more dramatic. Well done. Superb! Have a good weekend. Rosemary
jhm (140689) 2013-05-11 0:33
Again a black and white picture of these wonderful St. Giles Cathedral.
Your light management is perfectly founded, certainly the lovely entrance in Gothic style.
Maybe a colour picture as second image John!
Very well composition, nice presentation.
Thank for sharing.
Have a nice weekend,
williewhistler (14697) 2013-05-11 2:04
Hello John, what a fine subject for your mono treatment with the added bonus of being a night time shot.
The drama that you have instilled is first rate,with all those lovely architectural features standing out against the night sky.
There is a fine range of tones with the lights suitably subdued for the occasion.
Black and White as it should be,congratulations all round.
Best wishes Les.
bartekp (4746) 2013-05-11 2:32
Wow!!! I know this place and building and in b&w looks 100 times better. Perfect composition. If i remember there it is not to many lights,so it is hard to make photo. The fronton and tower are sharp and catch eye.
Have a nice weekend
timecapturer (49288) 2013-05-11 2:35
nicely rendered B&W shot this. This medium always works well with buildings like this, as it adds atmosphere and seems to bring out the magnificent stonework so beautifully. A flawless execution and presentation, I like it!
Enjoy a peaceful weekend - Brian.
marabu61 (8755) 2013-05-11 3:12
Beautiful and strong black and white capture of this amazing cathedral. The clarity and sharpness is amazing, the exposure superb, there is really nothing not to love about this composition. Truly stunning indeed.
have a good weekend
olive224 (2719) 2013-05-11 3:23
I love this B&W shot, it is really awesome !
The framing is perfect and the light management very nice
Your B&W conversion is excellent !
holmertz (42319) 2013-05-11 7:44
I can only agreee with everybody else that this is a magnificent photo. The church is a fine piece of Gothic architecture and the crispness of this photo, with an excellent greyscale and contrasts, does full justice to the many fine details.
Noel_Byrne (25314) 2013-05-11 8:54
That is a majestic building, and one very worthy of the name of Cathedral. Funny how it happens though, there is a cathedral in Dublin that is not actually a cathedral either (the Pro Cathedral). This is an amazing building, and you captured so much beautiful detail in the stone works. The long exposure has created wonderful bursts of light, and created a real exhibit of a structure. Stunning place and shot.
Thanks also for the excellent note, fair play to Mr Chambers. Its nice that people can restore things like this and all these years later we all can appreciate the efforts.
Have a great weekend
wolf38 (31282) 2013-05-11 9:06
Hi John. My compliments for this masterful black and white photo. I like the subtle nuances Zwisch black and white. Also, the contrasts are perfect. Very nice - and a good contribution to TE.
saxo042 (37588) 2013-05-11 9:19
A very good picture! This church looks magnificent from this position. I feel almost belittled here, but maybe that is the purpose of churches anyway... You have indeed found a good POV here and the light and contrasts are perfect.
mesutilgim (86134) 2013-05-11 10:20
Very nice b&w nocturnal capture !
Perfect light management and very good graphical values.
Many interesting notes enriches your entry.
TFS and have a nice weekend
carlo62 (34572) 2013-05-11 11:38
ho riconosciuto subito la bella cattedrale, ricordo molto bene la mia visita ad Edimburgo.
Hai effettuato un bellissimo scatto, eccellente nell'esposizione e la grande scelta del b&w, che crea una piacevole atmosfera.
agjika (3616) 2013-05-11 14:34
You will be pleased to hear that I cannot fault this photo! As far as church architecture and bw are concerned this is an excellent photo.I like the way three brightest areas create a triangle which allows the eye to travel around the photo. I also like the sense of depth that the chain creates. Maybe some dark clouds to add a bit of eery!
Very well exposed and contrasted.
Royaldevon (30793) 2013-05-12 2:04
My first impression was - what a haunting photograph. I don't mean that in any sort of derogatory way, just the atmosphere it produces, and any photograph that brings an atmosphere is working well!
It is lovely, John. The highlights and shadows are like shining a light onto a face, where the prominent features, in this case, the beautiful carvings, stand out, producing wonderful contrasts.
Yes, a fine posting.
Have a lovely Sunday,
delpeoples (53421) 2013-05-12 5:46
It looks like you've got the same malady as your countryman weetrees with B&W. Which is a good thing, and meant as a compliment to you: his monochromes are sensational. Having seen your colour version, I quite like this one. It's great seeing nocturnal images done in B&W very artistic. There are good contrasts, strong blacks and white and excellent light control. The reflections on the tiling are especially attractive and the details in the architecture have come out beautifully. Thanks for sharing, enjoy your Sunday.
PS: Sorry I've been off the air for a while, I'm in Melbourne and not accessing internet as much
chrisvek (7001) 2013-05-12 7:48
Hello dear John
Excellent night shot with splendid architectural details and awesome lightning usage.Very good job.
Have a nice day
Silvio1953 (124729) 2013-05-12 10:50
Ciao John, fashinating nocturne shoot, great view of fantastic cathefral, splendid light, very well done, my friend, ciao Silvio
bayno (18342) 2013-05-13 6:13
wonderful B & W with a complete mastery of light, the atmosphere is a little dramatic (but not like in Transylvania ;) )though the cathedral is beautiful, excellent framing and details, the picture is always accompanied by a good note, well done...
my best regards,
mkamionka (30921) 2013-05-15 6:20
stunning work. I like very much the architecure it is very impressive. The night photography is my favourite. Interesting idea to use b&w I have to try it some time with my blue hour photos. Great perspective too, well corrected (I believe).
I have taken recently some blue hour shots but did not have a chance to work on them.
I am indeed a member of English Heritage and I have enjoyed it, however I consider to cancel this membership from this year. Difficult call for difficult measures :(
I have never been to Ediburgh but it is high on my list of places to visit in the UK. May be this year?
- Copyright: John Cannon (tyro) (20782)
- Genre: Places
- Medium: Black & White
- Date Taken: 2008-04-20
- Categories: Architecture
- Camera: Canon EOS 20D, Canon EF-S 10-22 mm f/3.5-4.5 USM, Tiffen 77mm UV Protector
- Exposure: f/5.6, 4 seconds
- Details: Tripod: Yes
- More Photo Info: view
- Map: view
- Photo Version: Original Version
- Date Submitted: 2013-05-10 16:44
- Favorites: 3 [view]