The Search For A Pipe Organ

by | Dec 14, 2018 | Assignments, Stories & Expeditions | 2 comments

With Christmas just around the corner, I thought it was unique that the need for a picture of a pipe organ just happened to come up (see the latest Shoot to Serve assignment, Pipe Organ).

Now, I have to admit, even I sorta thought this to be a daunting assignment.

Where in the world would I find a pipe organ?! Are there any close by? Even if there was, would I be able to get permission to photograph it? How would I go about asking permission? This was way outside of my comfort zone!

But I couldn’t help but think about it. And for some reason, the more I thought about it, the more the challenge of the assignment inspired me. When have I ever had a real purpose for artistically shooting a pipe organ? Would this not give me a real reason to ask around and go places I would never normally otherwise have opportunity to go? And who else has a picture of a pipe organ in their portfolio? Like, everyone takes a zillion pictures of flowers, so would not a photograph of a pipe organ relatively be more valuable? It started to grow on me.

So I plucked up enough courage to pick up the phone and decided to give it a try. Here's what happened!


Going Deeper

Old buildings are hard to shoot in sometimes. The lighting can be tricky. At first I requested that the lights all be turned on, but the even light on the pipes made them look flat. So I had all the lights turned off and just stuck with the ambient light coming from the big, beautiful stained glass windows.

Now, the lighting was better, but it was still pretty dark. So, to compensate, I used a wide open aperture to let in as much light as possible. And this is a good thing to do. But there is a drawback. Shooting wide open often renders the resulting image a little soft. A lens' sharpest aperture is usually somewhere in the f/8 zone, so when I'm opened up to like f/4 or f/1.8, my photos will need a little extra sharpening in post-processing.

For example. Here's one shot taken at my widest aperture, f/4. Even though it's well focused, you can see it's a little soft without any post-processing sharpening.


And now here, with some sharpening, I think it helps the photo look a little better.


Shooting wide open isn't the only thing that calls for some sharpening. Reducing noise can also make a photo look soft like I mentioned in the recent post, Playing With A New Perspective.

Sharpening in post processing is important. To learn more about how I sharpen my photos, how to not over-sharpen photos, how to use the sharpening sliders in Lightroom, and the three basic types of sharpening that are usually applied to photos before they are published, join The Click and watch the latest training video, How I Sharpen My Photos.

sharpening (play)

Now It's Your Turn!

Now it’s your turn to step out of your comfort zone and find, photograph and submit your own photo of a pipe organ! Challenge yourself! Get the details for the assignment, Pipe Organ, below and it will be fun to see what you are able to come up with!

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  1. Fleshman Family

    Hello James,
    We wanted to let you know that there is a pipe organ in Hurricane WV at Forrest Burdette Methodist Church.

    • James Staddon

      Thank you for the info! I’ll let you know if I want to come down and photograph it.

      You know, that’s something I didn’t think to mention in the video….if you don’t know where to find a pipe organ, ask your friends!


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