About 45 minutes north of Toronto, on Leslie Street, you’ll find the Sharon Temple. In the late 1800′s it was the home of an offshoot of the Quakers – the Children of Peace. You can read more about it here, and click on the image to see a larger version.
I’ve always been intrigued by the building, and several years ago approached them about photographing it. This image is the result, and it didn’t come easily.
By the time I took this picture I had shot the building from a variety of positions using my digital, a Wista 4 x 5 field camera and, of all things, my panoramic camera. I wasn’t happy with the results, and was still trying when a staff member told me that I had about 20 minutes left before they closed – for the season.
I decided to set up one last shot, from the corner of the building, using the 4 x 5. Those of you familiar with these cameras know that setting up a shot takes time. My Wista is nothing more than a wooden and leather box with manually loaded sheet film. Metering is manual, and there are a whole range of issues to consider that are handled automatically with more “advanced” cameras. It’s still one of my favourite cameras, and I don’t use it enough. I find it makes me think much more about the final image, and looking through a reversed, upside down image in the ground glass gives me a whole different perspective on composition.
The benefit of all this is that you can precisely align the front and back of the camera to avoid the pyramid effect you might get with other cameras when you aim upward at a building. Using a 90° wide angle lens I was much closer to the building than you would guess from this image.
Metered, focused and shot! Left and had the film developed. Discovered that I had incorrectly entered the film speed in my meter, resulting in a very dark film transparency. Hours of Photoshoppery later, tracing edges around just about everything and adjusting lighting separately for the foreground, building and sky, this image was the result.
In hindsight, I don’t know if I’d have achieved the same result if I had done it right in the first place, and the end result reflects my liking for the building. To me, from this angle in particular, it’s like a ship in the night, and the history of this particular sect reflects a nice transition from the more dour background of their predecessors and their somewhat stern deity lurking in the clouds above.
Sharon Temple is a limited edition print – series of 20 – it’s 15″ x 19″unframed, or 23 1/2″ x 25 3/4″ framed, and I am selling it for $400 plus HST. It will be up in my online store at chrishutcheson.com shortly or you can contact me directly if you’d like more information.