Photographer's Note

The Notre Dame of Africa (Notre Dame d’Afrique) is an imposing church built in Roman and Byzantine style on shoulder of the Bouzareah hills, overlooking the ocean, about two kilometers north of the city of Algiers. Inside it has a very ornamental altar featuring a statue of the Virgin Mary depicted as a black woman. However, I didn’t know that when I visited the church (I just asked my driver to stop when we were driving by – it looked an interesting building) and it was only after I returned home and I was doing some research on the Internet for my photo captions that I discovered that this was the church’s ‘claim to fame’. I did go inside for a brief look (I have posted in the workshop one photograph that I took inside) but I missed seeing the altar with the black Virgin Mary. I was annoyed with myself for missing that because the photographs that I saw in the Internet were quite interesting. I suppose the lesson to learn from that is to do your research before you visit a place, not afterwards (I went to Algiers on business, and didn’t expect to have any time for sightseeing, so that was why I didn’t buy a guidebook like I usually do when visiting a new country).

I shot this very late in the day, and partly against the sun, so the church was in heavy shadow, and I had to use the shadow/highlights tool in Photoshop to bring out the detail on the walls of the church. This left the photograph fairly noisy, so I tried using Neat Image to remove the noise. It did a great job in removing the noise in the sky, but also removed quite a bit of detail from the walls of the church – which is a problem when using these noise reduction software programs, unless you are a very skilled user capable of using all the advance settings (I just used the standard default settings). So I decided to post the original, not the Neat Image filtered version, but I have put the latter in the workshop too in case anyone is interested in seeing the difference. In the filtered version you will see that most of the texture in the car park has been removed as well, and the bottom of the photograph looks like it has been painted on.

The perspective is of course distorted because I took this with a wide angle lens (focal length was 14 mm) but I like the effect that it gives, and I didn't think it necessary to try and correct the distortion (but I suppose that's a matter of personal taste). There's not enough space around this church to get it all in using an 'ordinary' lens.

ChrisJ, smash2707, pierreb, rabdelnoor, pamastro, zou, fireflyz has marked this note useful

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Additional Photos by David Astley (banyanman) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1237 W: 108 N: 2568] (7789)
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