Over the weekend, Ryan and I went to the Mission San Luis Rey, a short drive down the freeway from our house. Ryan is in the midst of his 4th grade Mission report, a standard state of California curriculum item. He chose to study San Luis Rey, since it was close enough to visit easily, but one we had never been to before.
Ryan learned about the “King of the Missions”, which at its peak apparently ministered to some 3,000 Native Americans, while managing a ranch that spanned up into what is now the vast Camp Pendleton Marine Base, and which owned more than 50,000 head of cattle.
Meanwhile, I had fun taking pictures.
Going back and forth between the very bright white stucco exteriors under summer-like midday conditions with all the harsh shadows, and the rather dim church interior proved a fun challenge. In addition to the usual adjustments of shutter speed and aperture, I aggressively manipulated ISO and kept close eye on my histograms. Also, while I normally shoot JPG, which tends to be fine if the exposure is relatively even, and which keeps the file sizes to manageable levels, here I shot both RAW and JPG, and indeed I was glad I did. In a few cases, in post processing, I was able to extract quite a bit of detail that was lost in the JPG, both in the dark interiors and in the bright stucco textures.
I also made judicious use of the on camera flash. While not very powerful or flexible compared to the studio strobes, it is eminently portable, and provides just enough additional light in the foreground in a few cases. The shot of Ryan ringing the bell, in particular, would not have worked without the flash. As bright as the white wall behind him is here, to get his face exposed sufficiently without the flash would have involved completely blowing out the whole background.