Basílica y Templo Expiatorio de la Sagrada Familia, Barcelona, Spain


Shipley, United Kingdom

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Artist's Description

Barcelona’s most famous church is a real pain in the backside to photograph.

For a start, it’s not finished. In fact, considering that construction began in 1882, they haven’t really got very far at all. (I know this seems crazy to us modern types but historically, many grand buildings have taken decades to complete – and, as Gaudi said, his client wasn’t in a hurry.) So there are all the cranes to work around.

It’s also fantastically detailed. During the day, in particular, I think Sagrada Familia actually looks rather ugly; a church covered in concrete carbuncles. Only when you focus on the detail does it come alive.

Finally, for reasons which escape me, the authorities in Barcelona have seen fit to provide subtle and sensitive lighting of the church’s main faces using an array of floodlights so powerful that they wouldn’t seem out of place during the London Blitz. Retaining detail in the highlight areas whilst showing some elsewhere has been a challenge, and this image is the result of an HDR and a deliberately underexposed original being blended together by hand. Hopefully I’ve done a decent job.

With all that said, it is a fascinating building, and definitely one of the most insane and ambitious churches that one can set eyes on anywhere in the world. And that’s before they’ve even started building the mind-bogglingly-tall (for a church) central tower!

Perhaps I’ll go back there one day in my retirement to see how far they’ve got by then…

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