A visual tour of Grace Cathedral

This is one landmark in San Francisco that you don't want to miss! (oh, and perseverance is good)

If you visit here often enough, you have probably heard me say how much I love shooting the grand churches in Europe.  I find them beautiful and fascinating - not to mention photogenic.  I swear I must have been an architect in a former life, because I am just drawn to this stuff.

Your standard center-front shot of Grace Cathedral - doesn't this belong in Europe?

Anyways, whenever I visit a town for the first time, I always Google their churches, since they are often rather grand.  But here in the US, I don't always strike it rich like I do there.  We just don't do churches the way they used to do them in Europe.

So that's what makes Grace Cathedral in San Francisco so special - it really is reminiscent of a grand European church.  It sits atop Nob Hill and it's hard to get in view of it without uttering at least one "Wow".  It's beautiful.

So on one of my many trips to that lovely city by the bay, I made it a point to get up early and head over there for sunrise.  I had checked their opening hours, and since it was a weekday morning I felt fairly confident that I could be the first one in when they opened, and I could shoot undisturbed for a bit.  That was my plan.  

So I shot the exterior for a while during sunrise, and continued to check the doors for signs of opening - but they never came.  I started to think I had read it wrong online, and considered giving up and heading back to my hotel to start my work day.  But I just HAD to keep trying.  I had WALKED up to Nob Hill from down below - that's some serious hard work!  

So I walked all the way around it, and finally came to a little entrance through their garage area that led into an underground passage.  At this point, I was beyond curious.  More like desperate.  So I went in.

The labyrinth outside the front of the church

I found an elevator that said it went to the chapel, but it wasn't working (I assumed), since I hit the button several times and it never came.  The light didn't even light up.  So I wandered a little more and found a staircase that went up, and I climbed it - but alas, the door at the top was locked, so back down I went.

I finally figured it was all over, so I started to leave.  As I passed the elevator, it opened and a maintenance man came out.  I mentioned that I was trying to get in and take some photos, but he said it was closed.  I figured it was worth a shot to ask again, in my nicest voice, because what did I have to lose?  

The interior labyrinth, before you get to the main center aisle

So I did.  I just told the truth.  I told him I had been here a long time ago, and remembered how beautiful it was, and I was hoping to take a few pictures.  That I loved the cathedral, and the architecture, and I found it inspirational.  And that I would be quiet, and respectful, and leave when he told me I needed to leave.

It worked.

What a grand interior!  There was an art installation in place, which is what all the ribbons are.

He took me upstairs in the elevator - the church was apparently still closed - and let me shoot to my hearts' content.  So here are the pictures, Mr Maintenance Man - and thank you so much.  It was an honor to meet you and photograph this magical place.

And perhaps telling the truth really is always the right choice - and doubly so when at church!

Viewing the front of the church, including the altar

A close-up of the section behind the altar

You just have to get that straight-up-the-center shot

A slightly different version of the center aisle shot

This may be my favorite - just loved this POV!

I couldn't resist turning that last pic into a painting in Topaz Impression - read my review of it under "Software Reviews" on the top drop-down menu.