St Dunstan in the East

I know it’s been a bit quiet here lately. A month, in fact. Truth be told I’m running short of ready material, save for the images from my latest trip to Dorset, which I don’t want to release in a whole go or in consecutive posts because it’ll make you sick of them very quickly.

Fortunately things have changed a bit, as last week my friend Catherine and I took another one of our photo walks. This is our fourth of the year, after London at Night V, West End Wander and Return to Borough Market, and we have two more planned after this, meaning we’re on track to complete the goal we set in January to achieve six walks in the year.

This walk came about with the discovery of the ruins of a church near London Bridge called St-Dunstan-in-the-East, built in the Twelfth Century and mostly destroyed in the Blitz. From there Catherine suggested we could then head into the City of London to photograph a lot of the skyscrapers that have been popping up in that part of town over the last few years. This all seemed like a good idea, so dates were set and we met up after work.

We didn’t really investigate a huge amount before we visited. We just saw it listed on a Buzzfeed listicle with a picture and figured it would be worth a visit. So we weren’t entirely aware that it had been refurbished into a public garden in the sixties, and not as much of a ruin as we would have hoped.

1/60sec, f/4, ISO 100, 24mm
1/160sec, f/4, ISO 100, 24mm

The modern setting however is in defiance of the age of the spot. The church was built in the 12th Century, and the plaque on the wall in the picture above is commemorating a school present on the site, attached to the church, dated 1466. Or at least, the school was dated to 1466 – the plaque was dated 1983 which is wholly less impressive.

1/60sec, f/4, ISO 100, 24mm
1/160sec, f/4, ISO 100, 24mm

In the centre of the garden, which would also have been the centre of the church back when it had a roof and with it a clearly defined inside and outside, is a fountain. For a London fountain it is relatively inornate, but I liked it enough to try a longer exposure on it (but not enough to use a ND filter).

1/6sec, f/22, ISO 100, 24mm
1/6sec, f/22, ISO 100, 24mm

Not being in possession of my own wide angle lens, I’ve found myself using Lightroom’s really rather good panorama stitching to get the shots that my 24-105mm doesn’t open wide enough for. I’m always impressed by it, because no matter how rough my on-site shooting is (and all handheld, I should add) the software has never struggled to stitch the pictures together nicely. So it goes with this next shot, which is a Lightroom panorama of four handheld shots meshed together.

1/160sec, f/4, ISO 100, 24mm
1/160sec, f/4, ISO 100, 24mm

Something I often forget to do (although have done on occasion, when I’m paying attention) is take several rows of shots, to get a wider angle of everything rather than a wide but short shot of the location.

Despite the clean look of the ruined-church-cum-garden, there were still spots of ancient ruin to be found, like this lovely battered window.

1/50sec, f/4, ISO 250, 28mm
1/50sec, f/8, ISO 250, 28mm
1/50sec, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm
1/50sec, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm

In another spot there were gravestones, seemingly half-buried, that just cried out for some monochrome, high-contrasty post-processing.

1/60sec, f/8, ISO 250, 45mm
1/60sec, f/8, ISO 250, 45mm
1/50sec, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm
1/50sec, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm

For this shot of two of the other gravestones, I decided to push the post-processing even further, and created two grungier edits, the latter being to a bit of an extreme.

1/60sec, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm
1/60sec, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm
1/60sec, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm
1/60sec, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm

Above the gravestones, it looks like nature was at least trying to claim back some of the church.

1/100sec, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm
1/100sec, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm

The steeple of the church remains intact, allowing for some dramatically low angles – something that you’ll see a lot of later on in this post.

1/400sec, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm
1/400sec, f/8, ISO 250, 24mm
1/2500sec, f/4, ISO 250, 24mm
1/2500sec, f/4, ISO 250, 24mm

Both of these shots are a sort of faux-HDR. They’re single exposures, but because I shoot raw, there is enough data in the file for a couple of stops of exposure correction. In both of these, the shadows have been boosted a bunch to reveal the detail. On these occasions, I actually shot bracketed exposures expecting to run some HDR processing, but I preferred the far more realistic look of this method.

In a couple of spots around the garden were wheelbarrows, apparently intended to be part of the scenery. Either that or the gardener got fired halfway through planting.

1/125sec, f/4, ISO 100, 24mm
1/125sec, f/4, ISO 100, 24mm
1/250sec, f/4, ISO 250, 24mm
1/250sec, f/4, ISO 250, 24mm

I tried to take a few more abstract images there as well. The most abstract was of some of the detail in one of the doorways.

1/15sec, f/4, ISO 250, 24mm
1/15sec, f/4, ISO 250, 24mm

There was also this slightly random commemorative plaque.

1/250sec, f/4, ISO 250, 70mm
1/250sec, f/4, ISO 250, 70mm

This doesn’t exactly look like a fig tree to me.

1/320sec, f/4, ISO 250, 24mm
1/320sec, f/4, ISO 250, 24mm

From within the grounds of the church, we could see some of its ancient surroundings. It’s in one of those spots in London where the very old meets tacky 60s ‘modernist’ meets todays modern architecture. This lovely old lamppost was between an old building apparently dated 1793 and a pretty ugly 1960s/70s/80s Travelodge.

1/250sec, f/4, ISO 250, 70mm
1/250sec, f/4, ISO 250, 70mm

With the church and its grounds thoroughly explored, we left, passing the front door of the old building, with its lovely ironworks suggesting its build date (in London, such a number usually indicates when the building was built. In the US, that number is usually the address).

1/250sec, f/4, ISO 250, 24mm
1/250sec, f/4, ISO 250, 24mm

We then continued on into the City of London… but you’ll have to wait for another post to see my shots of the black heart of the UK’s financial industry.

Not that I’m passing any sort of judgement on bankers, of course.

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