At the end of July a friend of mine and I traveled slightly ‘up-island’ toward Duncan to visit the old stone ‘Butter Church’.Â It’s a church with a somewhat colourful history – built in the mid-19th-century by a Catholic priest, using Native workmen for the construction.Â The church was built on Native land with a verbal agreement for it to be there.Â The priest in charge raised dairy cattle on the land surrounding the church, churned butter from the milk he collected and used the money from the sales of the butter to pay the workers, hence the name.Â Services were held in the church for ten years, but the local bishop wasn’t happy with the verbal agreement for the location, ordered a new church built on a different site and the existing one was deconsecrated and abandoned.Â A few attempts were made over the years to restore the church, but today it has largely been left to the elements.Â The quality of the original stonework is mostly what’s left to be admired.
This is the church from the outside.
This image is an HDR-panoramic composite, made from 67 base images. Mount Tzouhalem (named after a Quamichan warrior and chief) can be seen in the background.
I made a few hundred images of the church, many for composites such as the one above.Â One of the downsides with a camera that only produces .jpg files is that the limited dynamic range of each image means that bracketing is often required to capture a scene with extended dynamic range like this one.
As far as the ‘photo of the month’ selection, I had a few images that I was playing with.Â I’ll post Marcia’s favourite first, followed by a couple of others for consideration.
This shows the interior of the church as it stands now.Â While the bird droppings and the graffiti don’t add much to the dÃ©cor, the quality of the stone work and the restored (I believe) scissor trusses in the ceiling show the quality of the workmanship.Â One of our favourite authors (Charles de Lint) once described such defacing as ‘an old friend wearing an ugly set of clothes’.Â This image is also an HDR-panorama composite made from 40 images.Â With the bright sunlight coming through the doorway and window wells and the shadows in the ceiling area, there was no other way to capture the range of luminance values necessary for this scene.
So, we’ll leave that as the photo of the month, but we’ll add in a couple of others just for good measure.Â Some people say that the church is haunted, and having the innate spiritual connections that a church supposes, I thought I’d do something more dramatic, like this:
The B&W rendering strips the scene down to its essentials, and the high contrast/overexposed processing lends a somewhat cautious (but not malevolent) air to the place.Â The square crop also contributes to leading your eye around the frame.Â Ever get the feeling you’re being watched?
Finally, I was looking for a view that would bring up reminders of the church in its early days.
Although the stained glass was removed and installed in the new church, this image strips away much of the intervening decades and reminds us what the church might have resembled as it was being built.
Okay, that’s it!Â Now go out and make some photographs!!
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I feel your photography knowledge does the old church foundation good.. on the last photo I notice how thick the wall are , with some of the loose mortar hanging from between the rock ..The colour inside shot looks good ..I notice the timber colouring comes thru good even after all these years. Well shot Mike..
Thanks so much for saying so!