Photoshoot: Spanish Monastery (Preparations)

Posted by Gary Ramey on May 21st, 2012

The Cloister’s of the Ancient Spanish Monastery is extremely popular site for weddings, receptions, and quinceañera’s in South Florida.

History of the Cloisters

The Monastery of St. Bernard de Clairvaux was built in Sacramenia, in the Province of Segovia, Spain, during the period 1133-1144. It was originally dedicated in honor of the Blessed Mother and named the “Monastery of Our Lady, Queen of the Angels.” Upon the canonization of the famous Cistercian Monk, Bernard of Clairvaux, a leading influence in the Church during that period, the Monastery was renamed in his honor. Cistercian monks occupied the monastery for nearly 700 years. The Cloisters were seized, sold, and converted into a granary and stable due to a social revolution in that area in the mid-1830’s. In 1925 William Randolph Hearst purchased the Cloisters and the Monastery’s out- buildings. The structures were dismantled stone by stone, bound with protective hay, packed in some 11,000 wooden crates, numbered for identification and shipped to the United States.

About that time, hoof and mouth disease had broken out in Segovia, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, fearing possible contagion, quarantined the shipment upon its arrival, broke open the crates and burned the hay, a possible carrier of the disease.  Unfortunately, the workmen failed to replace the stones in the same numbered boxes before moving them to a warehouse.  Soon after the shipment arrived, Hearst’s financial problems forced most of his collection to be sold at auction.  The stones remained in a warehouse in Brooklyn, New York, for 26 years.  One year after Hearst’s death in 1952, they were purchased by Messrs. W. Edgemon and R. Moss for use as a tourist attraction.  It took 19 months and almost $1.5 million dollars to put the Monastery back together.  Some of the unmatched stones still remain in the back lot; others were used in the construction of the present Church’s Parish Hall.

In 1964, the site was purchased by the Episcopal Diocese and consecrated as a parish church.

Planning the Photoshoot

When I am planning a photoshoot, I try to determine exactly what kind of photographs that I want to take so that I can limit the equipment that I will have to lug around. Since I had already been to the Spanish monastery several times and know the grounds fairly well, I could previsualize some shots and determine what equipment I should take with me.

Spanish Monastery

Photograph from Previous Photoshoot

Considering the extremes of light and dark between the courtyard and walkway around the courtyard, I knew that I would get the best results by taking bracketed photos to merge into HDR images. The stonework is extremely distressed and the texture would be enhanced by the HDR process. I had not taken any photographs in the chapel so I also wanted to include it this trip. The chapel would be a perfect place to take a 360×180 degree panorama. This will work out well because I haven’t shot the spanish monastery with my fisheye lens, yet, and that is the same lens I now use for 360×180 degree panoramas.  My Canon 60D is my preferred camera for HDR because it will stay in bracketed shooting mode even after the camera has been turned off and on again. I will need to call in advance to ensure that I will have access to the chapel and that no events are scheduled.

Equipment Needed

Read about the photoshoot.


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