Photographing Mission San Rafael Arcangel

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San Rafael was founded in 1817 as a hospital and is named after the angel of healing.  It was used for a time as the headquarters of General Fremont and was eventually abandoned in 1844.  The small church is a replica built in 1949.  Here are a few highlights:

This is a working Catholic church with a new large cathedral, the small chapel, and a school.  It is on a busy street and surrounded by residences, and small office buildings.  There is a large bookstore and square that is quite busy.  You will have to move around a lot to get clean compositions.

The chapel
The chapel

The contrast between the small simple chapel and the newer large church is pretty startling.  I can not say I really like this architecture.

The large church
The large church

Mary added a bit of drama to this portrait of the good father.

Father Serra
Father Serra

You always have to find the bell.

The Camino Real bell
The Camino Real bell

I put a bit of 1970s yellow in this one as I thought it invoked the nostalgia I felt while looking at this little chapel.

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There are 21 California Missions.  We need to photograph five more to complete our project.  Our plan is to be done by the end of this year.  Wish us luck.

Please see our two popular blogs on how to photograph the missions – Part I and Part II.

To see more of our photos, please go to

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