Sunday, January 31, 2016

A Pilgrimage to Fulltofta...

My son is practicing his driving skills so on weekends we try to find a destination we can aim for. After weeks of mixed winter weather; wet and cold, or snowing and cloudy, we finally got a break in the weather and headed for the nearby town of Hörby where the old church has a resident peregrine falcon during the winter. The word peregrine is French for "Pilgrim" because of the hood I believe, and what more fitting place for a pilgrim than on a church.

 I assumed a small town like Hörby with a population of 7,000 couldn't have such a large church, so I expected close-up shots of one of my favorite birds. But it seems the height of Swedish church towers has nothing to do with local population, and our friend the peregrine sat atop a 20 meter tower, making this a job for the big guns...

No sooner had we arrived then the peregrine took off at full speed. I expected her to target a duck from the flock on the river right beside the church, but instead she disappeared out of sight several hundred yards away, and then a few moments later was back on top of the tower with an adult blackbird in her talons.

While the peregrine made short work of her midmorning snack we set up the tripod about 50 meters away to get a reasonable angle and mounted the Canon 7D + 800/5.6 + 1.4 extender. As we dialed in the settings we filmed and photographed. Unfortunately I forgot my remote control, so it was nearly impossible to press the shutter release without shaking the camera. But we had enough time to test and retest and about the time we were ready Mrs. Peregrine was finished with her snack and launched herself from the roof of the church and I managed to get a couple of decent shots. Here at 1120mm f/11, 1/1000 sec, ISO1600.

I tried for a repeat visit two weeks later, hoping our peregrine living atop a bell tower kept regular mealtimes. But she was simply not home and after an hour of waiting and while doing some googling on Hörby I learned that the nearby church in Fulltofta from the 1100's was supposed to have fabulous ceiling paintings from the 1400's. It was a Sunday and I expected the church to be locked for the weekend if there wasn't a service going on, but it was worth a shot. And as luck would have it the church was open and the ceiling was a truly a work of art. I even had the place to myself long enough to set up my tripod and with my Canon 6D and Samyang 14mm take a series of photographs that capture some of the beauty...

Here using 20 images assembled into a panorama in Photoshop. One thing I have learned about photography inside old churches is that it's best done when the wheather is miserable. The darker the better so that the windows don't get too over-exposed, and the lighting is relatively even. Today's weather was almost bad enough.

There's no good way to capture the entire ceiling in a normal way, so this 180 degree shot will have to do.

Despite living in Southern Sweden for 27 years, no one has ever mentioned the beautiful church in Fulltofta and the fantastic ceiling. I have stood in line in other countries and paid too much for less interesting places. So do yourself a favour if you're in the neighborhood or have out of town visitors, make a pilgrimage to Fulltofta. Besides the church there is a fantastic nature area with hiking and beautiful landscapes along the Ringsjö lakes.