Behind the Shot: Mt. Olive

by | Feb 23, 2019 | Stories & Expeditions | 1 comment

I’ve been living just a couple miles away from Mt. Olive Baptist Church for over 15 years now. It’s a pretty little church–nothing epic–perched up on the top of a little, partially-cleared hill. It’s a nice spot to go to pray or have devotions or take pictures on spare time on warm summer days.

But I never felt like I had ever gotten a really good picture of it. You know, it’s one of those places that is so close to home that I could go photograph it any time I wanted…and so I never photograph it.

Well, one Sunday, my family was driving home from the church we attend and we took a little different route home than normal. The normal route must have been flooded or something. Anyhow, the detour took us past Mt. Olive. Being winter, I happened to see the church through an opening in the forest and was reminded of this little photographic gem that I happened to live so close to. Perhaps now would be a fun time to finally get a good picture of it.

It wasn’t long before I saw a pretty sunrise predicted in the forecast. I drove out before dawn and parked beside the road at the little opening in the forest. It was a little cold for devotions as I waited for the sun to rise, but waiting in the cold inside a car usually isn’t that bad.

When sunrise came…it was kinda disappointing.


At least a little color would have been nice. “Oh well, I can try again. It’s close to home.”

Not too long afterward, another sunrise was looking good. This time it was on a Saturday morning, a better time than trying to create spare time mid-week.

Saturday forecast

But there was no color that morning either.


Such is life!

A couple weeks later, some friends came for a visit. John liked taking pictures, so I decided to try out Mt. Olive again.

And this time, God gave us some really pretty color!

190214-James Staddon_150202

After shooting at the distant overlook, we drove over to the church parking lot while the clouds were still pinkish.

I normally shoot the church from outside the cemetery. The walkway and fence kinda lead up to the front of church and fill the frame pretty well. Problem is, this angle just always feels too busy or something to me.

190214-James Staddon_154137

So, for some reason, I went inside the cemetery this time. I’ve shot from in there plenty of times before and have to say that that angle is pretty bland, with a solid green- or brown-grass foreground. Nothing interesting to use in the foreground. And if I get down low to use the grass as my foreground, the church kind disappears because I’m shooting uphill.

This time, however, there was this really nice dusting of snow. Old snow, yes, but not ugly. Instead it created interesting texture in the foreground.

And so now, I think this is my new favorite picture of Mt. Olive.

190214-James Staddon_152711-Edit W

Mt. Olive

Mt. Olive Baptist Church, Doddridge County, West Virginia
Get the Latest from Lenspiration updates to download as a desktop background

My only regret: I didn’t think the shot was going to be all that great (you know, looking at a raw image on the back of your camera screen isn’t the same as looking at a finished product you’ve spent half an hour processing), so I didn’t take the time to really set up, and just shot it hand-held at f/2.8. Ouch. At least I had focused on the subject.

1 Comment

  1. Nasa

    Very nice work James! Nice to see how you put those applications to work- I’ve found them quite nifty since hearing of them from you a while back.


Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send the next blog post straight to your email inbox!

Thank you for subscribing!