Portrait of a Church

I’ve been playing with this church portrait for a few weeks now, in between traveling and other projects. Today has been a “home portrait” day…two portraits of clients’ lovely homes started, one portrait of a family business finished, and the finishing touches on this church.  I wanted to do this church because it is one of four churches in our village and eventually I would like to do all four.  This one will probably actually be the easiest of the four.  When you read what was involved, you’ll see why I started with this one.

Churches are, often, a kind of home for many so it seemed fitting that my home portrait work should include churches.   This is St. James’ Episcopal Church in Clinton, NY along with it’s attached pastor’s home.  It is very typical architecture for Episcopal churches in this part of the country.   I’ve always loved it’s invitingly bright yellow color.

Obviously, the first step is always to photograph the building.  It can take some research and a few attempts to decide the best time of day for a particular structure.  This church faces almost directly west so an early evening capture worked best.  In the morning, the sun would have been shining directly into the camera.  I also watch the weather and the skies.  This day gave me lovely puffy clouds that I often have to paint into an image.

The church is on a lovely street with 19th century homes which are fairly close together, so I couldn’t stand too far back from the church.  Even though I was able to get it all in one frame, it still had a bit of perspective distortion (it appears to be leaning back) so that was the first thing to be corrected once I brought the image into Photoshop.

Next up, and the biggest job, were all those distracting wires.  Sometimes you can avoid them with a different angle but there was no way to do that this time. There’s no quick way to remove those if you want it to appear they were never there.  There are several tools in Photoshop that help with this and I use a combination of them depending on the spot, but overall it took a few hours to remove all the power lines.  The lines in the trees are actually the most difficult. It’s a task that is a bit meditative, not unlike working on a puzzle.  I would do a bit and go to another project and come back for some more later. Little by little the lines disappeared which makes for a much less cluttered image.  Someone someday, I’m sure, will invent a filter to quickly remove power lines.  One can only hope. 🙂

Original Photograph used to create the digiitial painting of St. James' Episcopal Church in Clinton, NY.

Original Photograph used to create the digiitial painting of St. James’ Episcopal Church in Clinton, NY.

Next, the car in the right hand corner needed to go as well as the one behind the bushes and to the left of the church.  The latter, I covered up with some extra bushes and siding.

The colors in the small rose window as well as the signature red side door needed a bit of a boost.  The overall color, contrast, and detail was also enhanced.  The lines of the board and batten siding, so typical for Episcopal church architecture, didn’t stand out enough, so those were enhanced as well. Contrary to that, the yellow curb was inordinately bright where the sun hit it, so the saturation on that was lowered.  I played with cropping the curb and road out but the church was then too close to the bottom of the image.  I considered turning the road into lawn but it would have taken it too far from what it is, so decided to leave it.

Finally, I was able to apply brush strokes and create the painting of this beautiful church.

Final digiital painting of St. James' Episcopal Church in Clinton, NY

Final digiital painting of St. James’ Episcopal Church in Clinton, NY

For more about the process of my home portraits, see the Home Portrait section on this website.