How I Got the Shot – San Xavier Mission, Tucson, Arizona.

By Lane Erickson

When I look at a photo that I admire I can’t help but wonder how the photographer got the shot.  I always want a description of the equipment used, the time of day and the technical camera settings.  Based on this internal desire to know more I’ve decided to start a series of posts called: “How I Got the Shot.”  This is the first installment and it focuses on a subject I love, the San Xavier Mission in Tucson, Arizona.

I am a lawyer by profession (don’t throw any rotten fruit; also don’t offer any lawyer jokes because there aren’t any good ones).  I was on a National Committee that was holding a meeting in Tucson, Arizona, January 8-10th, (2016).  I’d been to Tucson before and love the town.  It’s beautiful, clean and a great place to be in January.

I’d planned on taking just a simple camera with me, but I wanted one capable of creating images I could sell as stock photos.  I’ve tried a number of advanced point and shoot cameras and liked a few, but when I finally got my hands on the Fuji X100s, I was completely smitten.  I mean teenager first crush, head over heels, out of my head in love!!!!  (That’s 4 exclamation points which I never use.)  With this camera and its superb 23mm f/2 lens and 16mp sensor, I was ready.

I booked a flight so I’d have an extra day to explore and create photographs.  I created a schedule around my meetings and a shot list, packed my bags and was on my way.  My first subject on my shot list was the San Xavier Mission south of Tucson, which was close to the airport and hotel I was staying in.

sanxaviermap

I arrived, got my rental car, dropped everything off at the hotel and sped off down the road.  Only, the weather did NOT cooperate.  I am usually a devoted “Embrace Bad Weather” kind of photographer because I know that amazing and unique photographs can be created in bad weather.  But, the weather was bad!  It was really, really bad.  It was record setting, flood creating, DANGEROUSLY bad weather.  Here is a video clip from YouTube from that day someone posted.

Finally, after the floods calmed down, I drove to the San Xavier Mission.  It was still raining (a ton) but I was able to drive through (literally through some low flooded spots)  and get there anyway.  I spent the first hour inside the buildings almost completely alone, creating photographs of the interior designs and details.

01-10-16-Tucson-0108517a
Inside the main cathedral.  I love the ornate interior.  Fuji X100s 23mm; 1/6s @ f/2.8, ISO 1600.

 

San-Xavier-Interior-Panorama-2
Standing behind some of the front pews, I created a panoramic image of the interior including the dome top.  This was just before I went outside.  The clouds were breaking up a little and more light was coming in the few windows.  Fuji X100s 23mm; 1/15s @ f/2.8 ISO 1250.

 

I was able to finally get outside.  Immediately, I was struck with the quickly changing light, the beautiful clouds and the reflection of the Mission in the puddles of water.  I especially loved the paved path leading up to the Mission.  I wanted to include it all.  The only problem was, the Fuji X100s is a fixed lens camera.  It’s 23mm lens gives the view of a 35mm lens because of the dx-sized sensor. (If you don’t understand what that means don’t sweat it.)  Essentially, my lens was not wide enough to include everything I wanted.

Solving this kind of problem with the Fuji X100s, or really any camera where you can manually set the shutter speed, aperture and white balance, is no problem.  I simply took several photos and then “stitched” them together in Photoshop Elements when I got back home.  I waited for the right light, set my camera, and then took the pictures that I needed.  When I do this I always make sure to overlap the images enough that I can combine them.  Then I worked the images together in Photoshop Elements.  Here is the final image:

San-Xavier-Exterior-Panorama-2a
The right combination of light, color, leading lines and reflection.  Fuji X100s 23mm; 1/500s @ f/5.6, ISO 640.  I took several horizontal shots from top to bottom and then stitched them together in Photoshop Elements.  Then I adjusted levels, contrast and saturation.  Finally, I cropped the image just the way I wanted to eliminate the rough edges.  I am really pleased with this photograph!

 

That’s how I got the shot!  If you have any questions or comments about this photograph, or any of my photographs, let me know.  I welcome your comments of any kind!

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