St. Francis Church, Ranchos De Taos, 1994

From my archive, I have an image of the much-celebrated St Francis Church in Ranchos de Taos, New Mexico.  Since I have no notes accompanying the original picture, I’m guessing it was taken in 1994.  The negative was shot in color on Kodak Ektar 25 with the same Hasselblad wide-angle camera I used for my two previous posts. Years back, I did make a few small color prints of this picture, but I prefer the black and white conversion. Yesterday, I spent some time cloning out dust using the “old school” method in Photoshop: one speck at a time. And I toned the image with a mild sepia because I like the look of those historic prints of this church (and some links to those pictures can be found down below).

The adobe church was built between 1772 and 1816 when this area of New Mexico was part of the Vice-Royalty of New Spain. It was fortified with a surrounding wall at that time to protect against attacks from Comanches. To me, it’s a stunningly modern-looking building, way ahead of its time in terms of abstract design, and one which looks more extraordinary from behind than from the front.

The church has a large presence in photography history (and has been painted just as often). Here’s some links to some of the more well-known images:

Ansel Adams, 1929

Georgia O’Keefe, 1930

Paul Strand, 1931

Carl Van Vechten, 1933

Laura Gilpin, 1939

16 thoughts on “St. Francis Church, Ranchos De Taos, 1994

    1. Great observation about the cycophagus– I agree . You know, I was wondering about Adams’ version of this church. I think that image dates to the early part of his career and it certainly doesn’t have the deep range of tonality associated with some of his later work. Paul Strand actually photographed this church many times with some of those images being close-up details.


    1. Tri X would give it grain– a different look, but a good one too. 😊 Back then, Kodak was hyping this film as the finest grain color film ever made. I put a link down below for the raw color scan from yesterday. The original color prints I made in the 90’s were more contrasty and red-saturated.


      To me, the color is a little distracting and makes it look too “southwest.”


        1. Thanks, I do too. The black and white focuses on the radical forms of this architecture. The color, I think, is more about the color.. warm building in a dry place…lovely blue sky.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. As I mentioned to Tas, I think that is an early Adams. And I think he did return there later in his career but I wasn’t able to find a picture he took of it yet that has that spectacular handling of contrast that’s associated with his work.

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Linda that’s nice of you to say that. I do really like Paul Strand’s image, a picture I’ve been familiar with for fifty years. And if you ask me, Laura Gilpin is one of the most overlooked photographers from that period. If you can order a few of her books from your library, I think they’ll bring you a rewarding couple of hours.

      Liked by 1 person

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