Cathedral Moon 1 #12743

Matted, canvas, & super high gloss prints available. Questions?


The Story

This is the Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament dome under a very full moon, photographed at night from Gospel Hill. It’s one of the higher points in the city of Altoona PA. A prominent part of the city skyline and a visual landmark, the cathedral dome can be seen from most places in central Altoona. In the picture, you can see part of the city laid out below to the left and the mountains in the distance.

Day or night, railroad passengers can easily see this beautiful rotunda from the train station and mainline which lie a few blocks below the Altoona cathedral. Therefore, the building has been seen by people from many places since it went up beginning in 1924. Some people have mistaken it for a government building and not one belonging to the Roman Catholic church.

The cathedral is large and imposing with an exterior done in the style of Italy’s Renaissance cathedrals. Of course, the main feature is the dome which rises to an impressive height of 198 feet.

Photographing the Cathedral

I had photographed the Altoona cathedral before from other angles in daylight, so I wanted to try a different approach using night photography and add an enlarged moon into it. This worked out well and I really enjoy how the different types of artificial lighting have put interesting color casts across the cathedral and dome.

Although our eyes would take in this night view without color casts, the camera easily picks them up in night photography. The sodium vapor street lights cast a slight orange, fluorescent gives green, and incandescent lighting makes yellow as in the top tower. The tower could actually seem to be candlelit, a nice contrasting color to the rest. You can also see that some of the stained glass windows are lit from behind as well. None of the color showing here was added or altered.

What About That Moon?

Now, as for that huge moon…it’s a bit of artistic license. It was put there for effect and although it’s clearly a visual stretch, not to mention a celestial one, the image wouldn’t be the same without it. The overall picture was created for impact anyway. A few pinpoint stars were added too, but the faint clouds are part of the original image.

If the color effects on this church are too strong for your taste, I’ve created a black and white version called Cathedral Moon 2 with a different and special appeal of its own.

Location: Cathedral of the Blessed Sacrament, Altoona, Blair County, Pennsylvania. Picture and story © Andrew Dierks



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