California Missions – a twist of fate and night photography for CMSA

Sorry for the re-posting of this article. Unfortunately, for some reason hackers decided this posting was necessary for their use. After changing all my security settings and completely redoing this site, a few still found their way in, so I was forced to delete this post and start again from scratch.
Again, I would like to extend a special thank you to David Bolton, California Mission Studies Association and Kim Johnston, Cultural Global Media for all their hard work in helping me obtain permissions to photograph and be on the properties at night.

I first started photographing the California Missions at night while attending city College of San Francisco back in the mid nineties utilizing the full moon as my natural light source.
I had only visited a couple of the Missions and found the night time visits peaceful and relaxing. They also brought me a special sentiment for these beautiful landmarks.
In the quiet of the night, one can sense the history, while seeing a unique vision of the various architecture. The night skies also permit a great opportunity to see the Missions in a truly Black and White view.

Due to relocation, relationships and all the other changes we experience in our lives, I sadly realized I would probably never complete my dream project of photographing all these wonderful locations at night. There are 21 missions in all.
With the downturn in the economy, cuts in the employment workforce, loss of corporate incomes, etc., last year I asked my employer for several small leaves of absence to finalize this Missions’ project. They graciously agreed.
Next came the daunting task of obtaining permissions from the various Missions.Of the 21 Missions, there are also 21 legal entities overseeing each, ranging from local church diocese and historic organizations to the CA State Parks system.
Thankfully, CMSA stepped into the picture and made all the necessary contacts and permissions before I arrived on location, in exchange for publishing a photograph of each Mission in their newsletters – “Correo” and the “Boletin.”

At present I have completed 19 of the 21 missions. I hope to finish with La Purisima this fall. Last year, after my first shot was completed intense coastal fog set in for the next three nights covering the moonlight. Also, I still need to obtain special permissions from San Juan Capistrano to finalize shooting inside the actual Mission grounds accompanying last years photographs of the Basilica.

If you have any great stories or special history about these California historic locations, please share them. I encourage you to visit any of the Missions if you have the chance, especially at night.