Project grants/Photographing UK cathedrals

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Basic information[edit | edit source]

Project details[edit | edit source]

Full project name
Photographing UK cathedrals
Project start date (include month, day, and year)
June/July 2014
Project completion date (include month, day, and year)
Likely July or August 2014
Please describe the project in 1–2 sentences
I'd like to take trip around the UK photographing as many cathedrals as is practical to visit in the space of a few days in order to photograph them. Many of the cathedrals are currently quite poorly illustrated, particularly the interiors.
Amount requested
£200-£250 (exact cost based on certain decisions in budget)

Project lead details[edit | edit source]

Are you an individual or an organisation?
Individual
Are you currently a member of Wikimedia UK?
Yes
Project lead name
David Iliff
Project lead username or email
Diliff
Project lead title (position), if any
Photographer

Project description[edit | edit source]

To expand further, I have been working on a personal project in the first half of 2014 to document the interiors of churches and cathedrals in the London area. As I am getting close to having photographed most of the notable religious buildings open to photography in London, I want to expand this project and take a road trip over the space of around 4-5 days to visit a large number of cathedrals and otherwise notable and important buildings (abbeys, churches and minsters), mostly in the South and Midlands areas in a somewhat circular road trip. Most of the buildings are Anglican, but a few are also Catholic. An example of my intended route is documented here, but this may be subject to change as I refine the precise route. Based on this route, the total distance driven is 800-1000 miles. I aim to visit between 15 and 20 of these buildings on the trip.

I have a panoramic head that allows me to take mosaic (panoramic stitched) images of interiors without any stitching errors. This results in much higher resolution images, as well as potentially a wider angle of view than is normally possible. I also use HDR to capture the full dynamic range of the scene using 5 bracketed images. This allows me to capture the detail in the shadows while retaining detail in the stained glass. This technique, combined with the use of a tripod and panoramic head, results in images that are significantly better than what is typically captured inside churches and cathedrals. Some examples of my existing work in and around London:

Goals and measures of success[edit | edit source]

Project goal[edit | edit source]

Project goal
The goal is to greatly improve the photography of the cathedrals in the UK in the South and the Midlands (mainly as it's my geographical location, not because of any bias!).

Measures of success[edit | edit source]

Measures of success
I would consider the project a success if I can provide to Wikimedia Commons a large number of high quality interior photos of cathedrals, of a standard that is as high, if not higher than many non-free images of these interiors. As the type of interior photography that I do is fairly labour-intensive, each final image takes about 5-10 minutes to photograph and potentially 15-30 minutes of processing afterwards to get it to a standard that I am happy with. As such, I am to take perhaps only 3-5 photos per cathedral, but unlike many other images on Commons, these images should be significantly better than anything already in existence and will be of value to the various language Wikipedia articles.

Budget and resources[edit | edit source]

Project budget breakdown
The exact costs will be determined mainly by entry fees and fuel (I have access to a campervan and will make use of this for the trip, so no accommodation would be needed). I've visited all the cathedral's websites to determine if entry charges or additional 'photography fees' are charged. Also, the cathedrals that do not specifically charge an entry fee usually request a donation of £3. I'm not sure how Wikimedia UK feels about a donation but I will add this to the costs for consideration.
Estimated fuel costs based on 800-1000 miles of driving in a campervan: £120
Estimated costs based on known entry fees and photography fees: £50 (can break this down further if required)
Estimated costs of providing a £3 donation to the remaining 15 cathedrals that do not charge entry: £45
Non-financial assistance requested
None at this stage. I have contacted a couple of the cathedrals (who have made it clear on their website that 'commercial photography' is not allowed without prior approval) to discuss how they feel about me visiting to photograph the interiors with the intentions of uploading the images to Wikimedia Commons. Some have expressed some concern that they would essentially lose control over the photography, particularly from a commercial point of view. I'm not sure if it would be useful for someone from Wikimedia UK to speak to them on a more 'formal basis' to discuss their concerns, but if so, this assistance may be useful in gaining photography access that would otherwise be denied to me as a mere member of the public.

Impact and benefits[edit | edit source]

How will this project support Wikimedia UK's Outcomes, charitable objects and vision, values and mission?
G1.2 The quality of open knowledge continues to improve. My images will almost certainly be used in articles in both the English Wikipedia and probably many other languages. They may also be candidates as Featured Pictures on the English Wikipedia and on Commons.


Discussion[edit source]

For those who may not be aware, David was one of our three judges for the Wiki Loves Monuments competition last year. He is a well known contributor of professional-standard images to Commons, concentrating on the built enviroment, and virtually every image he submits has the potential to become a Featured Picture. There are significant gaps in Commons holdings in this area that this project could go some way to filling. There is to my knowledge nobody within Commons or within our own community who could do a better job of this than David, and I strongly support his application. --MichaelMaggs (talk) 14:11, 16 June 2014 (BST)

Support. David: do you need to factor in parking charges? I usually ignore "no commercial photography" restrictions, but perhaps the cathedrals concerned could be placated with the offer of copies of the images for their own use? Andy Mabbett (User:Pigsonthewing); Andy's talk; Andy's edits 16:22, 16 June 2014 (BST)

  • Andy, that's a good point, I hadn't factored parking charges in. I imagine that in some cities, it will not be easy to find free parking and even if I could, it would mean wasted time where time is very much of the essence given my optimistic schedule! Perhaps an additional £40 would cover parking charges assuming an average charge of £2-3 per city. As for dealing with restrictions on commercial photography, normally if I were to just shoot away and downplay my intentions of publication, I'd probably 'get away with it' and hear nothing more of it, but these cathedrals seem to quite keen to control both their 'image' and their ability to profit from commercial photographers and filmcrews. Given my tripod and equipment will probably immediately set off their alarm bells, I'd rather play it safe and get permission from cathedrals that have a policy on their website about commercial photography. Only a few are explicit about restricting commercial photography. If I can't find any information on their websites and they don't ask me to stop, I'll assume everything is ok. Diliff (talk) 21:05, 16 June 2014 (BST)
Happy to support the extra parking potential obviously! I'm sure there are some expert volunteers who could offer advice, and the office could offer support (and phone calls, etc.) re: restrictions. Sjgknight (talk) 21:08, 16 June 2014 (BST)

Thank you David for your application. I have notified the Grants Committee who may offer further comments on what they think of the application. -- Katie Chan (WMUK) (talk) 17:30, 16 June 2014 (BST)

Comments from Simon[edit source]

Looks very worthwhile and a thorough application. Very happy to support this as per the comments above. Sjgknight (talk) 20:28, 16 June 2014 (BST)

Comments from CT Cooper[edit source]

Thank you for your application. I have read through it and I'm currently inclined to give it my full support.

The costs you've provided appear to be reasonable for what the community will get out of the trip, and I'm not going to ask for a further breakdown at this time. The map you've provided is very helpful, though I understand it is subject to change. Using a caravan is a good idea, and will probably be much cheaper than arranging hotels, though I feel inclined to make the standard remark – please me mindful of your safety and security when choosing where to stop for the night.

On liaising with the cathedrals and other buildings, I think it would be prudent to make any reasonable donation that the cathedrals ask for. £3 is a small amount and I'm more than happy to approve it. The "no commercial photography" is a potential issue, so I would tread carefully. I'm not qualified to give legal advice, but copyright will be irrelevant for the most part, as the architecture of the cathedrals themselves should be in the public domain by now, and failing that, UK freedom of panorama covers public places and premises open to the public. Only some 2D works of recent creation are a potential issue; I will leave such issues to your judgement. That said, I believe these buildings will be private property, so if they explicitly tell you that your photography is not wanted or similar, whether on site or by e-mail, I would strongly recommend you skip the cathedral in question. However, I hope offers of donations and giving them copies of the photos will prevent such a situation from occurring. I would be happy to support increasing the budget to resolve this as needed, as long as the amount is reasonable i.e. "donations" of hundreds to thousands of pounds aren't going to happen.

In the meantime, I wish you the best of luck with your project and I hope it all comes together. CT Cooper · talk 18:16, 16 June 2014 (BST)

  • Thanks for your comments. I think your analysis of the legal aspects of commercial photography sounds about right. I have been dealing with one cathedral in particular (Chichester Cathedral) which has initially said no on the basis that the images couldn't be guaranteed to remain only on Wikipedia/Commons. I diplomatically asked for them to reconsider and pointed out that it was rather at-odds with the idea that the cathedral exists to serve the community, and that the community was best served by it being open towards Wikipedia and open content. After all, regardless of where the image ends up being used, I fail to see how a high quality and attractive image could do anything else than attract visitors to the cathedral. It is also prudent for cathedrals to consider Wikipedia not just as an encyclopaedia but as an important source of information for potential visitors. In any case, I've managed to make a few contacts within the Diocese of London who have been both enthusiastic about my photography and the open content movement and may be able to put in a good word for me. Diliff (talk) 21:34, 16 June 2014 (BST)
    • That's good to hear. Please keep us updated with how it goes. CT Cooper · talk 16:24, 17 June 2014 (BST)

Approval[edit source]

This grant application has been approved, to include the recommended donation and parking charge as discussed. If you would like any assistance from the office in contacting any of the cathedrals or other buildings, then please get in touch. In terms of reporting, please tag all resulting images with commons:Template:Supported by Wikimedia UK. I would also be looking for as many images as possible to be nominated for VI, QI, and FP on Wikimedia Commons and Wikipedia. -- Katie Chan (WMUK) (talk) 14:03, 24 June 2014 (BST)

Ongoing feedback[edit source]

Just to let you know, I've completed what is now PART 1 of the project, covering 15 churches, abbeys and cathedrals over 700 miles. I'll explain below what I mean by part 1. I'm now going to go through the large number of images taken and put together the stitched mosaics which will take some time, perhaps another week or so to complete. Once I've completed the processing, I'll add them here (or is there a better location for project feedback? I'm new to the grant system). For now, I wanted to share some of the hits and misses and ask for your feedback on costs.

  • I ended up splitting the project into two separate trips because I realised that it was not realistic to cover such a wide area over the course of 5 days, and that a number of notable northern English cathedrals just beyond the borders of the original route would be missed out. So I split it into two parts based on geography and distance covered: one covering the eastern side of England and the other covering the western side. Part 1, the trip I've just completed, covers the western side and about 700 miles. Part 2 is an intended route for now, but is pretty much a confirmed route also covering around 700 miles.
  • The good news is that splitting of the project actually means I would manage to cover significantly more abbeys, notable churches, minsters and cathedrals than the one bigger trip. I now estimate that the project could cover approximately 30 buildings in total, compared to the 15-20 planned originally, but it also means more driving, and therefore more fuel consumed.
  • The bad news. I wanted to bring this up now because I think I've underestimated the fuel consumption for the trip. I estimated £120 in total for 800 miles of driving. It actually ended up being £140 for 700 miles in part 1 alone (bear in mind it is a 2 ton campervan I'm driving!), and I therefore estimate that part 2 will be another £140 or so. Given that the project was approved based on the lower estimate, I thought it appropriate to bring this to the grant team's attention now before I proceed with the intended part 2. It has ended up being about 80% of the costs of the trip. If I am to go ahead with part 2, it will require more money. The fuel will likely be around £280 in total. Paying a nominal £3 donation to each cathedral will also end up costing about £90. And parking will probably not exceed £40 in total, as originally budgeted for. Total cost therefore looks more like £400, which is significantly more than the £240-290 originally budgeted for, for the smaller project covering a smaller geographical area.
  • Some more good news. I managed to avoid paying for parking in many of the smaller towns/cities so the costs for that are going to be slightly less than planned for.

As I said, in due course, I will provide a full update with all the images taken and their use in the relevant Wikipedia articles (which is a job in itself, I've started this already and it often means significant reshuffling to make room for them). For now, would you mind giving me some feedback (and hopefully approval!) on my proposed plans above? I apologise for the budget overrun. Diliff (talk) 19:28, 13 July 2014 (BST)

Also, I tried adding this to the 'discussion' section but when viewing the main grant page, it didn't seem to appear. So if one would like to move these comments to a location that is more appropriate and still visible to the grant's page, please go ahead. I couldn't figure it out. :-) Diliff (talk) 19:38, 13 July 2014 (BST)
I think you're asking for about £110-£160 more than originally, but for a significantly larger number of buildings covered (and the extra fuel cost). I'm happy with that in principle. It'd be good to have a timeline of when trip1 photos might be processed ( @Katie Chan (WMUK): can hopefully advise on galleries, probably best to put them on commons and interwiki them to here, or just link to them...it's nice to see the images though :-) ), and also when trip2 might happen. I think also just checking what coverage of the various buildings is already like would be worthwhile to avoid duplication, highlight gaps, potentially make time for other sites, etc. I assume they all have articles already? When you're looking at adding to articles, it'd be great if we could keep a list of where you've added an image where none-existed before, replaced an image, or added additional ones. It'd also be fantastic to look at other Wikipedias to see if other languages are lacking images (there's a lot here though so maybe other people would be up for helping on some of this!). Cheers! Sjgknight (talk) 11:16, 14 July 2014 (BST)
Yes, that summary of what I'm asking for is about right. I'm actually a little under budget on everything except fuel. As for coverage of what the various buildings are already like, they all have articles and are illustrated, but quite poorly. What I'm aiming to do is to bring them all up to a fairly good standard for all major views (the main nave view, the choir, the chapel(s), the ceilings, etc) to increase the quality and the consistency of the images considerably. So I wouldn't say I'm necessarily illustrating subjects that have no prior images on Commons as that's not my focus. The skills I bring to this project are the ability to capture grand and all-encompassing views in an aesthetic way, something which is not easy in darkly lit buildings such as churches and cathedrals. The little details such as individual monuments and plaques on walls, I think almost anyone can capture them with a point and shoot camera with a flash. I know it's also important to cover subjects that are not currently well illustrated, but it's also sad that such major architectural subjects as the cathedrals of England don't have quality illustration. I'm really trying to go for quality over quantity here. Also, most Wikipedia articles simply don't have the space for images of all the little details of a cathedral. There's always galleries, but I prefer to find a relevant location for images in articles, rather than stuff a large number of images in a gallery at the bottom. So anyway, I digreess, but that's my focus. I hope that explains a bit better. You're certainly right that the other Wikipedia language projects would benefit from the images, and it would certainly be appreciated if others could assist in making them aware of the new images (once I've uploaded them all). As for when I might start trip 2, I was thinking in a week or two. I need at least week to sort through the existing photos I've taken. Trip 1 resulted in 120 gigabytes of RAW files totalling 5000 files. Each final image that appears on Wikipedia is the result of about 30-75 individual photos though, which are stitched, perspective corrected and HDR processed, then adjusted further to get all the details in the shadows and highlights looking right. So it's quite a big job, bigger than the trip itself really. Diliff (talk) 12:34, 14 July 2014 (BST)

Update: I've started to upload the images and make a gallery. Rather than spam this page with images (there will be a lot), I'm linking to it in my English Wikipedia's sandbox. The gallery will continue to expand as I upload more images. Diliff (talk) 16:16, 15 July 2014 (BST)

Thank you for keeping us updated. I have moved the feedback discussion onto the talk page where it should be. It should automatically transclude onto the main project grant page like the rest of the earlier discussion, but I presume it's taking a while for the servers to catch-up. I'm happy to approve an increase in funding for the much bigger project you're now undertaking. I've had a look over your gallery of images, and I'm very impressed. You certainly know what you're doing when it comes to photography.
On what to do with the images, I have a personal dislike for miscellaneous galleries being placed at the bottom of the article. Sometimes galleries can be build into an article section itself, but that doesn't always work. So in general, I agree with focusing on adding a small number of the best quality images to relevant articles. Any excess can always be put into a gallery on Commons, which should then be linked to from the article. CT Cooper · talk 21:53, 15 July 2014 (BST)
Re image galleries, I quite like the way 'mini galleries' have been used in the Wells Cathedral article. But getting an article to this point requires a lot of work. Most have gaping holes in the information about architectural elements and there's little consistency in how they are written (some mention the architecture in the history section, others have architectural sections for each area of the cathedral, etc). I don't have the expertise (nor the inclination to be honest) to do this for all the cathedral articles, but I'm in contact with who has done a lot of work on many them and given time, she may want to assist in building the articles up to the point where more of my images can find appropriate homes. Diliff (talk) 09:54, 16 July 2014 (BST)

Confirmation of approval for part 2 requested. I've completed the gallery of images from part 1 and they can all be viewed here. I've added a large number of these to the English Wikipedia articles, but as explained above, many articles don't have room currently and it will require extensive development of the articles to fit all images in appropriately. I was hoping to start part 2 either this coming Monday or the next (21st or 28th of July) but obvious this is contingent on approval for the additional costs. I believe it should come in just under £400 in total, with the petrol being the unavoidable bulk of the costs. Could I please get a concrete answer regarding this? Thanks. Diliff (talk) 12:12, 18 July 2014 (BST)

Thanks for the ongoing update and discussion. The extension (for part 2) is approved. -- Katie Chan (WMUK) (talk) 13:29, 18 July 2014 (BST)
Thank you. At this stage I aim to start this second part of the project on the 28th of July (with photos following about a week after that). I'll report back with more then. Diliff (talk) 14:56, 20 July 2014 (BST)
  • End of August 2014 update. I've done all the shooting work now and am just slowing grinding through all of the image processing. I hope to get most, if not all of it done in the next week. The gallery is still being populated progressively as I upload the images. I haven't added up all of the individual expenses but I'm fairly certain it did come in slightly under the total budget agreed upon. Diliff (talk) 18:42, 29 August 2014 (BST)
    Thanks for the update. It's good to hear you've kept within budget. I've watched the page as the pictures have been added and they all look very professional. CT Cooper · talk 10:28, 31 August 2014 (BST)