On the Road is a weekday feature spotlighting reader photo submissions.
From the exotic to the familiar, whether you’re traveling or in your own backyard, we would love to see the world through your eyes.
The photos in this mission really touched me. It feels more church-like than some of the missions we’ve seen. So ornate in the public spaces, and so sparse in Serra’s cell. I love being taken to another world. ~WaterGirl
Since Bill can’t make it up north, I thought I would share some photos of the Carmel Mission Basilica. It was founded in 1771 by Father Junipero Serra, as the Mission San Carlos Borromeo. It is the second mission founded by Serra and is one of the most authentically restored. All photos were taken January 2003 with a Canon PowerShot A20. Some have been enhanced because of the lighting.
Entrance to the basilica. The bell tower and bell are original.
Inside the basilica. It’s pretty dark and the flash was swallowed up. This is still a working church.
A shrine, probably the Lady of Bethlehem.
The pipe organ is relatively recent, only about 30 years old. However, the mission website says that it’s being renovated by the manufacturer, Casavant, because it’s too powerful for the acoustics of the small basilica.
Some of the chalices and other artifacts are displayed in the museum.
Junipero Serra is buried under the chapel floor. This is a cenotaph, carved in 1924.
This is Serra’s cell. He lived at the Carmel mission most of his later life and died there.
I could feel a peace and tranquility through the photos…just lovely.
Loving the double OTR.
Thanks, WaterGirl. The Carmel mission is right in the middle of Carmel, unlike some of the nearby missions, which still have some of their original grounds. I’m not a fan of Serra, so I deliberately didn’t use the title “Saint”. I’m hoping to get to some of the more remote missions when things open up. I’ve been to San Juan Bautista, which is right next to an escarpment along the San Andreas Fault. Don’t think I have pictures, though. I really want to go to San Antonio de Padua, which is on the grounds of Fort Hunter LIggitt army base. It’s in the middle of nowhere.
California children are required to do a mission project in the 4th grade. This is the one my son chose a few years back. Being a 21st century kid, he made a youtube video of it.
All of the missions with the exception of La Purisima and Sonoma(which are both state parks) are working churches(though some have a larger parish church close by such as San Gabriel and San Juan Capistrano).
I think they’ll throw you out of Mission San Juan Capistrano if you don’t call him Saint Serra. Serra Chapel is at San Juan Capistrano.
For those who want to take photos inside a dark church, here’s what I’ve started doing. Shoot a bunch of shots of the place with a high ISO to get a good exposure, then process them by stacking them and taking the mean. Gets rid of the noise. I use Photoshop for this, I’m not sure what other programs do this.
@Jinchi: When I visited Mission Santa Inez back in March there was a couple and their son talking to the cashier at the gift shop(that’s where they take your money to get in). He was a 4th grader doing his mission project. I told him I had to do the same thing when I was in 4th grade(50 years ago).
@?BillinGlendaleCA: As a non-native of California, I was a bit puzzled when told he’d be doing a mission project. The only people who go on missions where I’m from are Mormons, and I didn’t think he was ready for a trip to South America. I now proudly have a fourth grade understanding of California history.
@?BillinGlendaleCA: They were charging to get into the mission? Or was it for the tour? I’m pretty sure Capistrano charged to see the interior when we visited, so we just enjoyed the grounds.
We visited a number of missions when our kids were building their own missions, and the favorite was San Miguel. There’s a building next to it that was the stagecoach stop. The murals inside the mission were a design by Esteban Munras* and painted by the local Native Americans (Salinas Indians); they escaped being obliterated during the Victorian period.
*I had to look that up.
@Jinchi: I’m 70 and a native of Los Angeles County. I had to do a mission project in the 4th grade. My dad made a tiny standard for a bell, like the ones that used to mark the El Camino Real. He used a parakeet’s bell. It was supposed to be a group project but we had to wait weeks to get a big box of clay-laden dirt to make the building.
If you visit the mission in San Gabriel, CA, there is a big theater next door, the San Gabriel Mission Theater. Outside, there is a fenced in courtyard with models of some of the missions, or there were the last time I visited, which was about 50 years ago. It’s possible that that has changed,
@opiejeanne: All the missions charge a fee(La Purisima charges the standard state park $6 fee to park), they vary from $5 at Ventura to $12 at Santa Barbara. Technically, they charge for a tour, but it’s a self guided tour.
Yup, the San Gabriel Playhouse, really nice building though I’ve not been inside. They still had models of all the missions at the side of the playhouse when I was there 4 years ago(I didn’t check when I was there earlier this year). They also have models of all the missions inside Mission San Gabriel’s courtyard.
@?BillinGlendaleCA: Thanks for the photography advice! For this and the star shots too.
ETA: Love the stories about the 4th grade mission projects, and that they’ve been going on so long. I can’t think of anything I did in 4th grade that they might still be doing now.
@frosty: I use the same technique for star shots, that’s really were I got it from. It also works for dark shots of church interiors. Unless you haul a tripod* into the chapel, it’s really your only choice.
*Tripods can label you as a professional photographer, then they want a cut.
Photos such as these can easily be post-enhanced with commonly available tools. For example, it took me just a few seconds to apply adjustments to bring out low light levels using Preview on the Mac.
J R in WV
This exposure stacking is something my camera can do in low light conditions, I just have to remember how to pick that setting when needed. If that’s even needed, it may be so automatic that it fired as long as you hold still. I was pretty surprised the first time shooting in a dark setting when it ripped off 15 or so exposures, thought about them, and showed me a well exposed picture as the end product.
I usually have it set to always do 3 exposures, one at the exposure it likes, and one each a half stop over and a half stop under. I never know which will be to one I pick to work with, but the variety works well for me. Of course you need lots of card space for all the exposures… I save a RAW image too, which is a big chunk of data~!~
I almost never use a flash anymore, so disturbing to others, artificial product, too.
Thanks, Origuy, for taking the time to do this for us!!
@J R in WV: Most modern cameras can do a limited form of exposure stacking, but generally you get a jpg as the end result(at least you do on my camera) and it uses the camera’s auto mode(doesn’t work for night stuff). I shot exposure bracketing for about a year, but now I just do it for shots with really bright stuff in it, like the sun.