Cyrillic Alphabet Day – Cyril and Methodius Window in Varna Cathedral

Cyrillic Alphabet Day - Cyril and Methodius

May 24th is Cyrillic Alphabet Day in Bulgaria.

Cyrillic Alphabet Day is a National Holiday celebrating literacy and culture and, in particular, the creation of the Cyrillic Alphabet by the brothers Saints Cyril and Methodius.

These two pop up everywhere in Bulgaria with their statues outside the National Library and many other venues.

This photo  of the two Cyrillic Alphabet Day saints is from a stained glass window in the Domition of Theotokos Cathedral in Varna.

Cyrillic Alphabet Day Cyril and Methodius Window Photo Facts. 

From my point if view, this photo illustrates how digital capture has altered my approach to photography.

I recently read an article in a professional photo journal about photographing stained glass windows using film.

Clearly getting the exposure right was perceived as the main problem.

Here’s how I see this picture.

First my objective was to take a photo of the window by transmitted light.

There are other approaches based on, for example, studying how the coloured light impacts on the surrounding walls and window frames.

Stained glass windows are high contrast subjects.

I certainly avoid direct sunlight through the window and find that overcast or even dull days result in better photos.

I’ve also had success when there is snow outside.

Stained glass windows are in fixed positions and often, like this one, high up in the wall.

This means that it’s not possible to shoot them head on.

As any position will result in distortion and keystoning I prefer to be as far away as possible.

If I can I use a tripod but I often find a good angle can best be achieved with the support of a pillar or pew in the church.

The direct light transmitted through the window allows for fast shutter speeds with appropriate apertures.

The choice of aperture is very important because shooting at an angle means you need as much depth of field as possible to guarantee overall sharpness.

For this photo I used the long end of my 70-300 Canon IS zoom lens which gave accurate framing.

Exposure was easily checked by carefully studying the histogram.

The final result again showed the importance of a digital workflow as I was able to correct the distortions using software.

To summarize:

Choose an overcast day.

Avoid distortion by shooting from as far away as possible 

Choose an aperture which gives enough depth of field (Perhaps better to use a crop sensor camera?)

Check the exposure carefully on the histogram.

Avoid camera shake with a tripod or solid support

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Stock photography by John Rocha at Alamy

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