San Francisco de Asis Church

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San Francisco de Asis Church

San Francisco de Asis Church ~ rising from the shadows.

A few days ago I set out to photograph San Francisco de Asis Church in the village of Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico. The goal of the evening was simply to practice using my Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II tilt-shift lens on an architectural subject to avoid the convergence of parallel lines. The catch…the are no straight lines, parallel lines, or even right-angles in traditional Southwestern style architecture, and Saint Francis de Asis church is no exception.

What I did find is that the building has a greater prominence in the image when using a vertical shift than compared to the original shot with no shift. Without shifting the lens the camera has to be leaned back which causes convergence and results in a severely distorted image. Notice how a street light has also crept into the original un-shifted image.

The Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II is a lens that I’m look forward to using. I have several trips scheduled over the next six weeks including a trip to the Grand Canyon to create a series of wide-angle panoramics, and then onto Colorado for fall color. After I return I plan to write a review of the lens to share my thoughts, likes and dis-likes on using this lens. I can comfortably say that after just a couple of outings with this lens that I’m sure it is going to have a permanent place in my camera bag.

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  1. David Leland Hyde September 6, 2010 at 4:08 pm

    Ah yes, the most photographed church. I was there one twilight evening last year. I thought I made some unusual images, but alas, afterwards I found something similar had been done many times. I suppose uniqueness is not the point when photographing this church. Perhaps photographing it is like joining a family, a family tradition that stretches back in a remarkable time-line full of interesting characters. I do like your image with the base in deep shadow. Maybe that is the only one like it.

  2. Adam Schallau September 6, 2010 at 4:21 pm

    Hi David,
    I joined “the family” 9-years ago when I moved to Taos and lived one block from the church. I agree that it is difficult to come away with a unique point-of-view when photographing “the most photographed church in America”, and I’m pretty sure I’ve seen an image similar to mine…I think it was the work of Ansel Adams.

    I think that sometimes it’s nice to just get out and shoot, even when it’s a subject that has been photographed thousands of times whether by myself, or other photographers. The act of looking through the lens and observing the light is a rewarding thing to do no matter the subject.

  3. Brian VanDenzen September 7, 2010 at 7:46 pm

    While it is certainly an oft photographed church, it still is not an easy location to shoot in my experience due to the power lines, parked cars, and the fact that it is so photographed that everyone has an expectation for the shot. I think this shot is marvelous, and I love the strong shadows, as well as the one strong spotlight on the lower left of the adobe fin. Fantastic work, and it looks like a great lens.

  4. George Brown September 13, 2010 at 5:35 pm

    Adam – Nice one. I think I have to spend more time at the church. I’ve only been there once since we were there together in June. Time for another try!

  5. Adam Schallau September 13, 2010 at 7:01 pm

    Let me know if you would like to get together to photograph the church. I’ve got some free time this week.


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