St. Joseph Cathedral

It will come to no surprise to all who have ever driven with me in my car when I admit that I am severely directionally challenged. Even trips meticulously planned and guided by GPS can quickly become calamitous. That is why I was blissfully unaware my car was approaching the Cathedral Historic District as I drove through South Dakota into downtown Sioux Falls. Sitting proudly atop a hill overlooking downtown Sioux Falls, the sculpted limestone of St. Joseph Cathedral makes a statement. The heavily ornamented twin spires of this Renaissance Revival structure can be seen from miles away, and it was these very spires that drew my attention and guided me into the district.

The Bishop of Sioux Falls asked French-American architect Emmanuel Louis Masqueray to design St. Joseph Cathedral after visiting the recently finished Cathedral of St. Paul in Minnesota and being impressed with Masqueray's design. Construction of St. Joseph Cathedral started in 1915 but was stalled by material shortages during World War I. Emmanuel Masqueray died in 1917, two years before construction was completed.

The exterior of the cathedral remains largely unchanged; however, notable changes have been made to the interior over the years. A Kilgen pipe organ was installed in 1935, but a fire did significant damage to the cathedral's interior in 1942. Major renovations in the 1970's and 2000's have left the interior in good condition but somewhat changed in overall character.

What's in my Bag?

It's a question I often receive from new photographers. Photographic equipment is very expensive, so it is understandable that people are interested in what works well and why. Equipment choice is an extremely personal thing and is ultimately more inconsequential to the final image than people often realize, but the following is a list of gear I have found useful:

1. Canon 5D Mark III

More than 95% of the images in my library were taken with this camera. The 5D Mark III has enough resolution for large prints of heavily corrected files. It's a large DSLR, but more convenient mirrorless cameras do not yet posses the battery life or perspective control lenses required for serious architectural photography.

2. Canon TS-E 24mm f/3.5L II

This is possibly the best lens Canon makes. It's manual focus only since it is a specialized lens that physically tilts and shifts, but no amount of Photoshop wizardry can replace the ability to control perspective in camera.

3. Canon 16-35mm f/4L

A versatile wide angle lens is convenient for small home interiors when you need to be in and out quickly. There's a significant amount of barrel distortion, but it can be almost completely removed with a good lens profile.

4. Canon 70-200mm f/2.8L II

Architecture is primarily done with wide and normal lenses, but a short telephoto lens is great for exterior details of large buildings. It's extremely large and heavy but has great contrast and sharpness.

5. Canon 24-70mm f/2.8L II

I don't use this lens for architecture because it has a large amount of distortion, but this is mounted to my camera for nearly everything else. If I could only have one lens for a wide range of photography this would probably be it.

6. Manfrotto MT055CXPRO3

Every serious photographer needs a tripod. The Manfrotto is extremely stable despite its light weight.