San Xavier del Bac

San Xavier del Bac, the White Dove of the Desert, is one of the most famous landmarks in the Arizona desert. Padre Kino arrived in the area during the 1690s bringing Christ to the Tohono O’odham, the Desert People, and more specifically the Wa:k, descendants of the Sobaipuri farmers who once in inhabited the San Pedro Valley. The church stands on their reservation near Tucson.

It has been years since the church could be photographed properly. Scaffolding blocked the view. But now the Dove is visible again. I hope I’ve done it justice. I tried to work in natural light for shots of the dim interior. When you can’t set up complex systems of flash lighting, this is often the best choice. It provides a light true to what your eye sees without the shadows created by flash. Digital cameras are excellent in this respect, not needing to be held as steady as a film camera. I brace myself when I can against a wall or pillar and pull my elbows in tight to my body.

There is a small hill near the church with a shrine to a saint who appeared in a vision. The walk is worthwhile and allows unobstructed telephoto shots of details of the architecture.

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