Prize winner explains how he made his stunning image

Chris Cherrington, our top prize winner for 2018, explains how he made his stunning image of Gloucester Cathedral cloisters.

Gloucester Cathedral cloisters
Gloucester Cathedral cloisters by Christopher JT Cherrington, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

For higher resolutions, see the image page on Wikimedia Commons.

The image

My final image was a stitched panorama consisting of 4 angles, derived from a total of 26 original exposures.

In each of the 4 directions, I bracketed between 5 and 7 shots between -3EV and +3EV (the more raw data, the better!). The reason for the bracketing was the very large dynamic range between the details in the stained glass and the shadows in the cloisters.

Due to the absurd number of tourists (this is a very popular location, and the left-hand leg points towards the very popular cafe), there were a few individual exposures which were repeated to include the tourist movement. In these particular shots, I then used Photoshop to layer the exposures and selectively mask out the tourists.

This resulted in 4 angles of bracketed, tourist-free shots.

I then put each bracketed angle into Aurora 2018, which yielded remarkable results. So good, I didn’t need to resort to luminosity masking in Photoshop.

This yielded 4 images from which to construct the panorama.

To my surprise (and gratification), finally Lightroom made an excellent job of stitching these four images together.

Equipment

Camera: Nikon D7500
Lens: Tokina 11-20mm f/2.8
Tripod: Gitzo 2545T Series 2 Traveller
Head: Gitzo GH1382QD Series 1 Centre Ball Head
Koolehaoda Panoramic Head
Hoage 140mm Nodal slide
Nikon cable release

Capture information

ISO: 100
Focal length: 11mm (16mm @ 35mm equivalent)
Exposure setting: Aperture priority
Aperture set: f/22
Resulting shutter speeds: 0.7sec to 30sec

Total number of source shots: 26

Software

Adobe Lightroom Classic CC
Adobe Photoshop
Aurora 2018

About me

I’m now a 63 year old retiree, though how I ever found time to work, I’ll never know. I’ve always been interested in photography, starting out with SLRs (non-digital, of course) in the 1970s. Since 1990, though, it all lapsed due to other pressures and interests, confining me to the usual point-and-shoot pocket camera and latterly, phones.

It was only in August 2017, when I finally had retired fully, that I started to get “serious” about it again, hence the purchase of some mid-range equipment and a whole load of internet-based learning.

I’m a very keen choral singer, being a member of the Bournemouth Symphony Chorus and the Philharmonia Chorus (London), but often do ad-hoc visits to various places for choral events. It was on one of these, in 2017, that I had reason to visit Gloucester Cathedral. Needless to say, I was blown away by the Cloisters, also being a Harry Potter fan. So, when I took up photography again some months later, I had it in mind to go back there and try to do justice to the incredible atmosphere, spirituality and workmanship of the place.

So, on a lovely, but cold, day in January 2018, I turned up there, paid my photographer’s fee and thoroughly “did” the place! The stats above are only for the image in question. In reality, I did four complete “sweeps” of the cloister panorama, totalling something like 80 shots, taking something like an hour and a quarter to capture. I was seated in a cloister adjacent to the south-west entrance and boy, was my bum cold by the time I’d finished!

In the short time since I have been taking photography seriously, I seem to have settled on two themes: Landscape and Historical buildings, particularly churches or cathedrals. I’m not particularly religious, but I do find that spending time in a sacred building makes me feel a real sense of connection with the amazing people who created these masterpieces. Although not as technically sophisticated as we now see ourselves, every one of these amazing artisans was a real person who lived, loved, suffered and lost, just as we do today. I consider myself honoured to be able to share their amazing talent with people everywhere.

2018 winners announced

We’re pleased to announce the winners of the UK section of the world’s biggest photo contest Wiki Loves Monuments. This year the judges have awarded first prize to this stunning image of Gloucester Cathedral cloisters taken by Christopher JT Cherrington.

The Cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral by Christopher Cherrington
The Cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral by Christopher Cherrington, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Chris has written a short blog post explaining how he took his winning image.

UK winners

Click the title for access to more details and high resolution copies on Wikimedia Commons.

1st: The Cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral

The Cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral by Christopher Cherrington
The Cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral by Christopher JT Cherrington, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

The judges noted the beautiful symmetrical two-way view along the intricately detailed cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral. The light within this interior space has been well controlled and camera settings used have preserved a huge amount of detail for our eyes to feast upon. A worthy winner of the UK competition.

2nd: Sunrise at West Pier (Brighton)

Sunrise at West Pier (Brighton)
Sunrise at West Pier (Brighton) by Christerajet, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

A very calm and serene image of Brighton’s West Pier at dawn came second in this years competition. The judges loved its clean and smooth graduations and the soft pre-dawn colours. A highly accomplished long exposure which is not only stunning in its viewpoint and technical clarity, but also in the way it generates an emotional response with the juxtaposition of a beautiful dawn and a derelict site.

3rd: Hardknott Roman Fort (Cumbria)

Hardknott Roman Fort (Cumbria)
Hardknott Roman Fort (Cumbria) by Markas1370, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

This is a brilliant use of a drone for the way it opens up new ways of seeing a location. The judges loved the fact that the image shows the fortifications in their entirety, occupying the strategic high ground, and includes the drama of the landscape that surrounds it.

Highly commended

Carreg Cennen Castle

Carreg Cennen Castle
Carreg Cennen Castle by Ken Day, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Dinefwr castle at sunrise

Dinefwr castle at sunrise
Dinefwr castle at sunrise, by Daniel Phillips, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Farnborough Portable Airship Hangar at Sunset

Farnborough Portable Airship Hangar at Sunset
Farnborough Portable Airship Hangar at Sunset by David Faulkner, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Humber Bridge

Humber Bridge
Humber Bridge by Bob Riach, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

New Brighton Lighthouse

New Brighton Lighthouse
New Brighton Lighthouse by Maximiliano Montero, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

New Brighton Shelter

New Brighton Shelter
New Brighton Shelter by Mark Warren 1973, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Walthamstow Dogs

Walthamstow Dogs
Walthamstow Dogs by Jacqueline Padmore Robinson, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Best image from England

1st: The Cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral

The Cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral by Christopher Cherrington
The Cloisters at Gloucester Cathedral by Christopher JT Cherrington, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

2nd: Sunrise at West Pier (Brighton)

Sunrise at West Pier (Brighton)
Sunrise at West Pier (Brighton) by Christerajet, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

3rd: Hardknott Roman Fort (Cumbria)

Hardknott Roman Fort (Cumbria)
Hardknott Roman Fort (Cumbria) by Markas1370, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Best image from Scotland

1st: Arbroath Signal Tower

Arbroath Signal Tower
Arbroath Signal Tower by Ronniedeas, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

2nd: Wemyss Bay railway station concourse

Wemyss Bay railway station concourse
Wemyss Bay railway station concourse by Colin, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

3rd: Bass rock lighthouse

Bass rock lighthouse
Bass rock lighthouse by Ben Clarke, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Best image from Wales

1st: Dinefwr castle at sunrise

Dinefwr castle at sunrise
Dinefwr castle at sunrise, by Daniel Phillips, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

Using a drone does not necessarily produce an interesting picture. It still requires a photographer’s eye, and an ability to overcome the technical limitations of many standard drone cameras to produce an engaging image. The judges chose this photograph of Dinefwr Castle in Carmarthenshire (a castle of the Welsh Princes, rather than a Norman castle)  which manages to combine a visually exciting viewpoint with straightforward digital darkroom techniques to produce a striking and beautifully atmospheric picture.

2nd: Carreg Cennen Castle

Carreg Cennen Castle
Carreg Cennen Castle by Ken Day, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

The ruin of Carreg Cennen Castle and its physical context is captured beautifully – the hazy, tranquil essence of the area, and the dramatic, menacing presence of the castle itself. The site, a few miles from Llandeilo, has a very long history, but is associated mainly with the castle built here by the Welsh Princes of the Deheubarth, and later the Normans.

3rd: Paxton’s Tower

Paxton's Tower
Paxton’s Tower by Matt Phillips, Wikimedia Commons CC BY-SA 4.0

This photograph of Paxton’s Tower is an example of an honest, pleasing-to-the-eye representation of a folly in Carmarthenshire. The photograph begs so many questions – who built it, why? Why is it placed so prominently on top of a hill? A little delving reveals a complicated historical web, taking in Scotland, entrepreneurship, empire building, exploitation, social climbing, war, political spite, philanthropy and much more.

No award was made in the  Best image from Northern Ireland category.

Special prize

The most prolific photographer of “new” UK historic sites was Paul the Archivist, who uploaded more than 200 pictures of sites which hadn’t previously been represented in the database.

Shortlisted images

For the complete list of all the shortlisted images, as well as access to high-resolution copies, see the winners’ page on Wikimedia Commons.