Also known as Mission Mary, Calera Chapel is a tiny adobe chapel in the desert near Toyahvale in West Texas. Originally established in 1902 as a chapel for the people of Calera, unable to support a congregation, it fell into disuse in late 1940's. The chapel was restored in 2002 and is once again open for visits, prayer, and ceremonies.

This diminutive chapel does not have electricity. The small photo on the back of my 2014 holiday card was taken as part of a series of photographs carefully planned and executed in order to create the beautiful main image featured on the greeting card. Because of the inky blackness of night in the West Texas desert, and the lack of artificial light in and around the chapel, most images of the Calera Chapel are taken during the day. I wanted to create a unique vision of this charming structure, one that probably wouldn't ever exist in real life.

Using my Olympus OM-D EM-5 on a tripod, I first lit several tea lights inside the chapel and then illuminated the facade with the car headlights to build my composition and focus. Then using a single Westcott Ice Light, and a friend to trip the camera shutter, I made a series of exposures to simulate a deeply moonlit scene. I lit the outside of the structure over 4 exposures, and then lit the structure from within for 3 more exposures. Finally, an extended exposure was made in the dark to capture the stunning detail in the night sky.

Various color treatments were applied to give the appearance moonlight outside, and the warmth of candles or lightbulbs from inside. The sequence was then layered and combined to produce the final, single image.
Calera Chapel (Mission Mary), Toyahvale, Texas