Corridor, Heiligenkreuz Abbey, Austria

A view down a stone corridor at Helligenkreuz Abbey in Austria.

I really enjoyed my trip out to Helligenkreuz Abbey from Vienna. I was on a day long group tour, a fairly unusual experience for me, because I'd heard that this very beautiful place does not allow entry to independent travelers. Fortunately the day was fun and quite successful. And I even managed to catch up on some long overdue sleep on the bus.

Building Relationships

The hardest thing about being on a tour for a photographer is being able to make your pictures in the moments available to you between your group leaving the place you want to photograph and moving onto the next location.

I was sure to ask my guide who, after all was responsible for my safety and that of the abbey and it's possessions, if he would allow me to linger a few short moments after the group had began to move on so that I could make my photos, prior to catching up to them again. Thankfully he allowed me to and I made sure I worked quickly, quietly and efficiently. I very much appreciated his trust and understanding and made sure I tipped him, generously, at the end of the day.

I believe that what we do in the here and now has a direct influence on what happens in the future, be it to ourselves or others. Tipping my guide was a gesture, that benefited him in the now and may well have benefited other photographers well into the future. I'm always mindful of behaving in a way that is more likely to ensure a positive experience for the next photographer. 

Always Consider Composition

The above photo features what, I'm sure, is one of many corridors in the Abbey. In addition to a range of luscious honey colors and lovely, soft light this image is about texture, shape and repetition. I knew immediately that a high degree of sharpness was essential if the image was to be successful.

The problem was that the light was low and a slow shutter speed would be required. Not being able to bring a tripod into the Abbey meant extreme care had to be taken to steady the camera so that a sharp image could be made. And, despite the 1/10 second exposure time, I'm glad I was able to achieve it.

Always Consider Contrast

Even though the light was relatively low indoors, it was quite a lot brighter outside. Perhaps the hardest element for a photographer to control, historically, has been contrast (i.e., the difference between important highlight and shadow areas within the scene) and this kind of setting would have been difficult to photograph, with a single exposure, if I'd included the actual windows in the composition.

So, to reduce contrast, which would have resulted in burnt out windows and overly dark shadows, I simply moved my body a jump to the left (just like in the song) and then turned my camera a step to right to the right so that none of the actual glass and, as a consequence, the outside light, was visible within the frame. Problem solved and a successful photograph was born.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru