Friday, October 22, 2010


It seems like sense to attend a one day workshop of interior photography at Exeter Cathedral. "Experience Seminars" who are running the day are a Canon franchise and since I use Canon cameras, it might be helpful to attend and not only learn something of photographing inside but also to find out more about photographing with my particular camera. Yet I wonder whether it might all be a bit of a routine in which one is encouraged to make photographs in a particular way of certain subjects. The cathedral must have been well photographed and it would be the juxtaposition of the building with people that might be of interest.

A little background research will help me go beyond the over-driven approach that can affect the photographer when making images even if he/she does want to make images that are aesthetically pleasing!

A little research into Exeter Cathedral means a visit to their website! However, I have already heard from reading E.H.Gombrich's The Story of Art that the cathedral has fine examples of late Gothic architecture, a style that shows a marked development from the initial pure Gothic style. This latter is known as The Decorated Style and Gombrich says that the Western Window at Exeter Cathedral is a good example of the complicated tracery found in this style.

However, on the Exeter Cathedral website there is a slightly different story as it here discusses the East Window ... "Towards the end of the C14th it was noticed that much of the tracery (stonework) of the window was rotting - probably because corrupt iron had been used in the original work. It had to be dismantled and new stone was brought from Beer quarry to replace the damaged sections and the master mason of the time, Robert Lesyngham created a new window in Perpendicular Gothic style." 

The Exeter Cathedral website only makes a brief reference to the West Window, seen best from the outside, preferring instead to focus on the Great East Window. Perhaps only a visit can sort this matter out. A little further research however, reveals that there were three main Gothic styles in the UK ...
  • Early English (c. 1180−1275) includes pointed arch known as the lancet includes doorways and windows, the latter not always equilateral but sometimes being steeply pointed. Usually narrow by comparison to their height and without tracery.
  • Decorated (c. 1275−1380) a style that can be broken down into the Geometric and Curvilinear styles. Windows have tracery, subdivided by mullions (vertical bars of stone) that run as high as the beginning of the arched window where they then run horizontally across the window. Above this, in the top of the window is the tracery. At first, this was geometrical but later curvilinear.
  • Perpendicular (c. 1380−1520) shows slimmer stone mullions in much larger windows that reach to the top of the arch; there are other vertical mullions (supermullions) that form rectangular compartments with transoms. Other signs of this period are the beginnings of fan vaulting, doorways frequently enclosed with a square head over the arch mouldings and large elliptical mouldings.

It would appear that all three styles can be found in Exeter Cathedral !? More information about this can be found at ...

Experience Seminars have also provided a map that reveals where these three styles can be found in the cathedral and yet since it is not in colour, it is not so easy to make out where the different styles are to be found.

Rummaging around a small library of guide books from places my parent's visited, I find one on Exeter cathedral. Printed in colour in 1976, one can not help but notice that although the compositions are good and the colour adequate, photography has come a long way technically since the images were made some 35 years ago.

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