Before the mystery


It was very hot on the day we visited the missions and the cool shadows inside the church were a welcome change. We were there on Sunday, and mass was about to start (because even after all these centuries, the mission is still an active parish). So instead of going into the sanctuary, which would have been intrusive, I composed-and-waited (lessons provided by Sam Abell earlier this year) until the foyer was empty of people but full of objects and shadows and light. I think it was worth the wait.

Mission San José
San Antonio, Texas
photographed 9.6.2015

Posted on September 15, 2015, in Photography and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 12 Comments.

  1. This is a wonderful shot, I like the B&W. I’ve really been enjoying your daily posts!


  2. Great image – well made.


  3. That is an incredible doorway… and door too for that matter. Actually everything in the frame is interesting.


  4. A lovely image Melinda. I love the inclusion of the fan and stacked chairs, so out of place in such an historic place. Did you take a class with Sam? I didn’t know he was doing workshops. He has been one of my heroes for years. I have one of his books here someplace, buried during the move.


    • Steven, I was lucky enough to get accepted into a class that Sam taught last spring at the Santa Fe Photographic Workshops. He was an excellent teacher – generous with his knowledge, encouraging to his students, and possessing a self-deprecating manner that I liked very much. The two main things he worked with us on were how to “micro compose” which is his term (I think) for spending time making sure all the elements in an image are where they need to be – not overlapping or chopped off, given the space they need, etc; and on learning his mantra “Compose. And wait.” That was hard for me, as I’ve always been more of a “shoot and move on” sort of photographer. But the image here is an example of a time I did compose and wait. And I waited for a while, until that little space was empty.

      And the first things that caught my eye were the fan and the chairs, which struck me as incongruous. You probably have figured out that I like incongruity…

      Liked by 1 person

      • It’s coincidental that in a recent blog I alluded to the fact that I have finally learned to give myself over to my whims (my heart if you prefer), and stop trying to analyze and overthink my photographs. To not worry if there is some “meaning” in an image; to just trust my instincts and make the photograph. Then, after your mention of Sam Abell, I looked on line about him and found this quote; “My best work is often almost unconscious and occurs ahead of my ability to understand it.” I feel I know exactly what he means.


      • Another thing Sam told us was that our photos should look “inevitable.” That seems a little contradictory to his micro composition and composing-and-waiting, doesn’t it?! But it ties back exactly to that line of his that you quoted. It takes a lot of practice to shoot from the heart, and incorporate all the micro composition and composing-and-waiting almost by reflex.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Very nice shot Melinda. I especially like that the fan is in motion – it adds heat and dry and a cooling breeze that otherwise would be absent. Then there are the wheels on the fan….


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