Peru Congregational Church, Massachussetts © Steven Willard

Peru Congregational Church, Massachussetts © Steven Willard


I had wanted to photograph this church since the first time I rode past it on my motorcycle. But every time I was here it was dark, or I was in a hurry, or the light wasn’t good, or something. Finally, on Thursday, I was driving back from visiting the Bridge of Flowers in Shelbourne Falls, Massachussetts, and as we approached the building it looked like I’d finally get my chance. Driving through Peru on state road 143 it doesn’t look like there is much of a town. There is a town hall, a library, and this Congregational Church. Frankly, from what one sees from the road it’s hard to imagine there is enough of a population to support such a church. Census records show a population of a bit over 800, but I would guess that not all of them are members of the church, and it must be a real strain on those who are just to keep the place painted.

This is one of those places that feels as though it is out of place. Peru is in the heart of the Berkshires, surrounded by rolling hills, small lakes and forests, but it is situated on a hilltop, and the trees have been cut back. The result is that one feels more exposed, like on the plains in Kansas, rather than in New England. At least that’s how it feels to me. The fact that the church is seemingly out of scale to the number of homes in sight only heightens that feeling. The result is a place that is a bit spooky even on a beautiful summer evening, and must be downright scary on a dark windy winter’s afternoon as the sun goes down.

Back to the photograph: I finally had the opportunity to make my photograph, the light was gorgeous at 6:30 in the evening and I had camera and time. The problem was the composition; there is really no view that shows the front of the whole building that doesn’t include a tangle of wires. If someone were paying I suppose it would be possible to clone out the wires, but it wouldn’t be easy, (at least for me). In the end I decided that if I considered the wires as just another part of the total environment that the building inhabits, like trees or the edge of the road, it would be wrong to remove them. (See how I cleverly justified saving myself extra work?)

Olympus OMD EM1 with 12-40mm f2.8 lens processed in Nik Snapseed on my iPad Air. This is one of the rare times I have used Snapseed’s black and white conversion and I think it works very well on this image. I also want to credit Snapseed’s Transform tool for correcting the perspective “distortion”. It works very well.



3 comments on “Peru

  1. I think this photograph is perfect with the wires included. Without them it would be somehow less. The context and movement they lend takes the image beyond ordinary. It is a classic. And of course the choice of black-and-white was the inevitably right decision.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Frank Lehnen says:

    I’m thinking of a pinhole camera picture when I see this photograph. Strange

    Liked by 1 person

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