Architecture · Photography · Quesnel

Little church on the prairie

To be honest, I know nothing about this gutted church that stands lonely in a field of dandelions out on Red Bluff Road, south of Quesnel, British Columbia. I don’t know who built it, what church group it belonged to, or how it caught fire.

I first saw it when Helen (Dean) shot some ghostly, snowy photos of her sister around it in January this year. Then, shortly after arriving here last week, I stumbled across the old building while out exploring my new neighbourhood. I promised myself that I would return with my camera as soon as possible.

That time came yesterday evening, as I was driving home at around 8.30pm. The light was perfect – pink and soft after a late afternoon shower – and so I took a detour to try to photograph her. I turned off the main road down a pot-holed dirt track, and was met by two mangy dogs, which barked noisily at me – not used to seeing strangers in their neck of the woods.

But they were harmless, and I wandered around for at least half and hour – trying to do the old church justice with my photos. I imagined the stories she could tell – of families whose histories were intertwined with her own: of baptisms, weddings, funerals and Sunday services. I wouldn’t have swapped squelching through the wet field, and braving the giant, voracious mosquitoes for anything …

Despite her dilapidated state, this once white-washed old church is still beautiful!

Approaching down a makeshift track.
Approaching down a makeshift track.
This image was made up of 16 separate photos stitched together.
This image was made up of 16 separate photos stitched together.
Dandelion
Dandelion
Stained-glass window
Stained-glass window through a gaping window frame.
Window. Stained. Burnt.
Window. Stained. Burnt. Shattered.
Scarred. For good.
Scarred. For good.
Stretching towards the heavens (in wide angle)
Stretching towards the heavens (in wide-angle)

Update (June 17, 2013): This was apparently a Catholic church on “First Nations” land. Interestingly enough, when it first caught fire the local volunteer fire fighters went inside, only to find that there were no flames or smoke. It turns out that the part of the church one can see was simply built around the original structure, and that the double walls and double roof were keeping the flames on the outside. I will definitely be returning in winter for more stark pictures.

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101 thoughts on “Little church on the prairie

  1. The pictures are amazing…really eerie but beautiful. I love the one with the stained glass πŸ™‚ How do you get the effect of focusing on the dandelion, with the church in the background because I love that photo too πŸ˜€

    1. the effect you are talking about is created by placing the subject (dandelion) in the “depth of field” (you can also call it the focus area) and making sure that your camera doesn’t have too big of a “depth of field” – a.k.a. “DOF”.

      There are two main factors that allow you to control your DOF.

      First, your camera setting called aperture. You can control your aperture in the Manual setting on your camera, or in the Aperture setting. (“A” on Nikon, “AV” on Canon) The Smaller the number that you select for your aperture, the smaller/shallower your DOF will be. So, in this example with the dandelion and church, you want a shallow DOF – use a low “f/#” (that is how aperture is displayed on your camera) for example use “f/3.5” instead of “f/11”. Or even lower if your lens allows it.

      Second, the closer you get to your subject, the shallower the DOF will be. So, instead of zooming in on the dandelion… zoom all the way out and get your lens really close to it. depending on the size of your subjects, you may find that your DOF is too narrow, just use these steps in reverse!

      Happy Shooting!

      P.S. thanks for idea, I think I am going to type this up in more detail on my own blog as a new post πŸ™‚

  2. Striking and beautiful. It makes me want to visit the church! Thank you for taking such great pictures.

  3. These are beautiful pictures…thanks for sharing your thoughts…as I looked at the pictures I started to imagine the stories as well…
    very nice! Thank you!

  4. The photos certainly capture people’s interest. Also very interesting to see the combination photo (the one with 16 photos joined together) as that works so well. And the stained glass window framed by the door is great.

    jeritilley.wordpress.com

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