Front or Back?

March 13, 2013  •  Leave a Comment

The San Francisco de Asis Mission Church in Ranchos de Taos is one of those rare buildings that is most often photographed from the back of the building. Oddly enough, the back of the church is what faces the main road. Since construction of the church began in 1772, I guess it's possible that there wasn't a road behind the church at that time!

When I arrived at the church early in the day, I was disappointed to see that the back of the church was backlit. I was having trouble envisioning a decent composition--probably because the colors were completely washed out by the bright light shining in my face. Reluctantly, I worked my way to the front of the building.

I was pleasantly surprised by the appearance of the front of the church. After waiting nearly 30 minutes for a car that was parked right in front of the church to move, I captured the following image:

San Francisco de Asis Mission Church Moving a bit closer yielded this next image:

San Francisco de Asis Mission Church Although the church was open, unfortunately photography is prohibited inside the building.

My hotel room in Santa Fe was about a 130 mile round trip drive from this church, so I had no intention of returning to capture any pictures from the back of the church. However, I ended up spending about three hours taking photographs at the Taos Pueblo, which is located only 10 miles or so from this church. That gave me the opportunity to stop by the church one last time during the late afternoon before driving back to Santa Fe for the night.

When I arrived back at the church about an hour before sunset, the back of the building took on an entirely different look from earlier that day. Composing interesting photographs became quite easy. Here is my favorite image from the shoot:

San Francisco de Asis Mission Church Once again, it is important to arrive at locations at a time of day when you have the best chance of getting some nice light. In this case, the back of the church receives its best light last in the day, while the front of the church is best photographed in the morning. In the middle of the day, I tend to put my camera away for a while--or to shoot one of the many interesting church interiors in this area of the country!


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