Photographing the Mission San Francisco Solano in Sonoma, CA

The front of the mission from the street

As many of you know, Mary and I are on a mission (no pun intended) to photograph all of the California Missions.  With San Francisco Solano, we will have completed 10 out of the 21, total.  The San Francisco Solano mission is located in the town square in downtown Sonoma, CA.  Here is what we saw.

Mary and I have a pretty well developed process for photographing the missions now.  See our two big blogs on photographing the California Missions.  Here, we started on the inside to get the altar first while there was some decent light.  It is a pew-less interior and a simple one, at that.  If you want this kind of glow from natural light and the stars in the lights, you will need a tripod and a long exposure.


After that we photographed the large room attached to the sanctuary.  It houses a collection of watercolors of all of the missions and looks like a giant dinning room.

We proceeded to the courtyard which was very simple and grabbed a few shoots.


On the way out we photographed the front portico and the facade from various angles.  You can also see one of the Camino Real Bell.

We went with mostly black and white because it was a very cold and overcast day.  There  were no vibrant colors outdoors and no shadows.  We will definitely go back when the weather is different to get a different look.

To see more of our photographs, please go to


  1. Mark McDermott

    I’d be interested in your opinions (and others) on correcting for lens distortion on wide angle shots of buildings. I tend to want to reduce or eliminate the perspective distortion (front view of mission (1210_psa_sonoma_048_hdr-edit.jpg) and bell in front (1210_psa_sonoma_052_hdr-edit.jpg)) that results from a wide angle lens. Of course there is no right or wrong, it’s just an aesthetic preference, but I am interested in some other opinions.

  2. pamphotography

    Hey Mark, sometimes I like the distortion and other times it can be distracting. Interestingly enough here, I would have liked to have moved back some and used a longer focal length, but we were blocked by a street and other buildings and had to go wide-angle. I do have a tilt-shift lens which is the ideal solution, but did not bring it on the trip because we brought only one body and one lens. Mary also has adjusted some photos in PhotoShop and Lightroom, but it works best when the subject is straight on, and you only need to tilt it up. If you have to tilt up and to one side or another, the distortion is almost impossible to get rid of. We are going to some more mission this month and I will use my title shift ens to see what I can do. Next week we are going to write about neon signs and Mary fixed the angle and distortion on one of them. Hope you and Cat are well (and not too cold).

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