Procession of the Feast of Corpus Christi, Avila, Spain

December 25, 2021  •  Leave a Comment

Procession of the Feast of Corpus Christi, Avila
18 mm, 1/160 sec, f/8, ISO 100, 720 nm infrared

Our first morning in Spain, we walked out of the hotel to discover an exquisite diorama of the Last Supper in the street. This was our first indication that perhaps this was not a typical Sunday. As we wandered the streets a little while later we noticed a large crowd gathered outside the city gate near the cathedral so we headed that way. We joined the crowd just as a procession led by a brass band was emerging through the gate (watch the video below). This was the Procession of the Feast of Corpus Christi, a major Catholic liturgical event behind only Christmas and Easter, and the Spanish Catholics are renowned for their Corpus Christi festivities. The Feast of Corpus Christi, also known as the “Day of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Jesus Christ the Lord”, is a Catholic liturgical solemnity celebrating the Real Presence of the Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity of Jesus Christ in the elements of the Eucharist. In addition to the band, the Procession included priests and deacons carrying lamps and incense and an ornate monstrance carrying the Blessed Sacrament. The Procession was an incredible sight-I’ve never seen a religious celebration anything like it.

The Monstrance of the Avila Cathedral, constructed in the 1560s by the silversmith Juan de Arfe


Diorama of the Last Supper, Avila, Spain


Processing the Photograph

At the moment I was disappointed to have left the hotel carrying only my infrared camera and smartphone, but now I am grateful to have captured this image in infrared. I took a smartphone video of the procession emerging through the gate, then quickly captured a few frames as the procession passed by the apse of the cathedral while holding the infrared camera up over my head. Again, I was disappointed at the time because the images were not well-composed and I felt that the crowd kind of ruined the shots. However, now that I have more experience as a photographer and have better developed my abilities to creatively express ideas through my photographs, I was able to see a completely different version of this image that I think conveys the solemnity of the procession beneath the ancient stone walls of the city.

Stitched panorama in Lightroom

This image is a great example of the idea of thinking of the photographic process with the camera as a data collection effort. The goal is to assemble as much raw data as possible so that there is sufficient information available to create the image that is envisioned. In this case, I was able to combine a couple of individual photos into a panoramic stitch then fill in missing areas using Photoshop’s Content-Aware Fill tools so that I had a base photograph from which to create my artistic vision.

I took inspiration for this image from Joel Tjintjelaar’s photograph of the Pantheon in Rome. His photo is a long-exposure (and I think also a panoramic composite) and is also plagued by a crowd moving in front of the building. But through the use of long exposure, the crowd becomes an indistinct blur that adds to the composition of the image.

I used the Adaptive Wide Angle tool in Photoshop to correct the distortion in the stitched image. The crowd was very distracting, so I used the Path Blur filter to mimic a long exposure. I then copied a selection of the crowd and added several semi-transparent copies to enhance the effect. I also applied the Path Blur filter to create the long exposure effect for the sky-I’ve never used this filter before but I think it produces a very realistic look for the clouds. There are several moving elements in the image that do not show the long exposure effect-the banners in the procession and the palm trees, for example-but I don’t think this takes away from the image. In fact, I specifically wanted to highlight these subjects in the photo.

Once the base image was assembled, I processed the image in a fine art black and white style using the BW Artisan Pro X panel. I needed a hard selection of the sky and the foreground; for this I used the Select Sky tool and filled in a few areas manually. Typically I would have spent more time creating a very precise selection but in this case it would have been very time-consuming to create a precise selection and it was not essential. I did have to correct a few areas along the top of the wall at the end but this did not take long. I mostly used Creating Depth features to control the light and the Pro Tools to bring out specific details. The image was finished off with a subtle color toning.

The Procession




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