Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral

I posted photos of Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral in the Little Italy section of Manhattan on my website notmydayjobphotography. The cathedral was completed in 1815 and was the seat of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York until 1879, when Saint Patrick’s Cathedral on 5th Avenue and 50th Street took over this distinction.


Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral Nave. HDR with three exposures, f6.3, 100 ISO, with shutter speeds ranging from 1.3 seconds to 30 seconds at 27mm. Click for more photos.

The cathedral has seen its share of noteworthy events including:

• The cathedral was the scene of anti-Catholic rioting during the 1840s inspired by the Know Nothing Party. Archbishop John Hughes met the threat by arming the Irish organization Ancient Order of the Hibernians, positioning them on the walls surrounding the cathedral.

• Men in the parish, Fighting 69th Regiment, fought in the Battle of Bull Run in the Civil War. This was the only Union regiment that did not flee. Many of the soldiers lie in the cemeteries surrounding the cathedral.

• The baptism scene from The Godfather was filmed at the church along with the scene in Godfather, Part III in which Michael Corleone is honored. A scene form Martin Scorsese’s film Mean Streets was filmed in the cathedral’s graveyard.

• The cathedral was one of the first sites to be designated as a New York City landmark in 1966. Pope Benedict XVI designated the cathedral a Basilica in 2010. Currently, Italian-Americans and Dominicans make up a large part of the parishioners.

I took the nave and organ shots on a sweltering hot day in July, with temperatures in the high 90s. The church does not have air conditioning so I was quick in taking photos. Also, there was an impending wedding and guys sweating profusely in tuxedos were starting to arrive. I used my Canon 17-55 mm mounted on a tripod. I later photographed the beautiful stained glass windows using a longer range Canon 70-200mm lens.

The top photo is a vertorama of the cathedral nave. A vertorama is an image composed of two or more photographs, joined together in image editing software such as Photoshop, along a horizontal line. This photo consists of two photos (top and bottom) combined together in Photoshop Elements 9 to form one image. I used High Dynamic Range (HDR) processing in Photomatix to average out the contrasting light. I used three exposures at f6.3, 100 ISO, with shutter speeds ranging from 1.3 seconds to 30 seconds at 17mm. The vertorama attempts to capture the vast dimensions of this Gothic Revival cathedral.


Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral Henry Erben Grand Organ. HDR with three exposures at f6.3, 100 ISO, shutter speeds ranging from 4 to 30 seconds at 34mm. Click for more photos.

The above photo is of the Henry Erben of New York City organ. It was installed in 1866-1868 in a Gothic style case made of black walnut. Erben organs were finely crafted from one of the foremost organ builders of the time. The organ is the only example of an original, extant three-manual Erben, and is a jewel of organ building in New York City according to the American Guild of Organists New York Chapter. This was shot at 34mm, f6.3, 100 ISO and is an HDR compilation of three images ranging in shutter speeds from 4 to 30 seconds.


Saint Patrick’s Old Cathedral Rose Stained Glass Window, f6.3, 100 ISO, 1 second shutter speed, 255mm.

The stained glass windows are beautiful, but I haven’t been able to find out anything about them except that after the Civil War, the Italian community made Saint Patrick’s theirs and contributed some of the finest stained-glass work in North America to the church, according to NYC Architecture. I took the above photo of the beautiful rose window above the altar with my Canon 70-200mm f4 lens. The ISO was 100, f6.3, 159mm (255 with 1.6X crop factor), 1 second shutter speed.