After the Last Supper
  • Aperture: ƒ/5.6
  • Camera: ILCE-7RM2
  • Exposure bias: -3EV
  • Focal length: 35mm
  • ISO: 6400
  • Shutter speed: 1/60s

I’d walked around the monastery of Santa Catalina for a while already when I came across this table in a room lit only by a shaft of daylight from above. Maybe it was the faint memories of my Religious Education lessons at school or maybe the sense of religious devotion that pervades the monastery had seeped into my subconscious, whatever the reason my mind automatically thought of the Last Supper, but now with all the players long gone and just a beam of light to remind us of what had come before. A metaphor for the state of the church today perhaps, or is it that people come and go but the light always remains… Metaphors are tricky like that and it often depends on your point of view. Personally, I have no faith and am particularly wary of those with blind faith, considering some of the acts committed in the name of religion. It is definitely harder to stand on your own two feet but freedom of thought is the reward and is something that I have learnt to treasure. I even struggle with the idea of karma and am amused by a quote attributed to the late, great Bruce Lee:

“Expecting life to treat you well because you are a good person is like expecting a tiger will not attack you because you are a vegetarian”

Random acts happen and I am reminded of a story told by a lady in an episode of the BBC’s excellent radio programme Soul Music. She had been the victim of a vicious random assault that had left her requiring umpteen operations on the road to recovery. Living in New York, she did not have the funds to cover all the expenses and people that she barely knew had rallied round to hold several fundraisers to raise the money for the operations. At the end of it all, it was not the single random act of a violent stranger that defined the experience but the many acts of kindness from her family and community that let her know that she was loved and filled her with a wider sense of being part of a community.

I have become a regular follower on Facebook of the site ‘Humans of New York‘ and am in a constant state of amazement at how one person, Brandon Stanton, has been able to generate so much love and empathy from the virtual community towards strangers. What begun as a photography project shooting portraits of strangers in NY has grown to include subjects as diverse as the refugee crisis, prison inmates and, the most recent, paediatric cancer. The short personal stories that accompany the portraits allow the reader an insight into another’s experience and the outpouring of support, both emotional and occasionally financial, has been remarkable. In a world where bad news travels fast, it is good to be reminded that humanity has a heart.

I’m not sure where that little bit of philosophising came from, took me by surprise too! Now back to this photo… As a photographer, it’s often all about the light and, in this case, there was very little of it and, what there was, it was very concentrated. I underexposed by three stops to try and hold some information in the spot where the light hit the table. I was easily able to bring in some detail into the shadows in post by using the slider in Capture One’s HDR tool and could have brought it in a lot more but that would have ruined the mood. It would have been nice to be able to use a tripod but had to rely on the A7RII’s soft shutter and good stabilisation to be able to capture this image the way that I have. Overall, it’s a job well done and, if it makes me think a little about life and what it all means, that can only be a good thing.

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