HDR Panoramic of the Grotto

I recently photographed the Grotto for an edge-lit glass panel art piece that will be displayed in the University Relations’ office of the Main building.

We had to reschedule a few times due to inclement weather before getting a perfect evening. Unfortunately it was a Friday evening but Mother Nature was calling the shots for this shoot.

With all the candles lit, the sun rapidly descending and my VERY patient models in place, I proceeded to crawl behind the candle racks, collecting cobwebs on my face and hair—fortunately no spiders—to position my camera for an interior. It didn’t take long before beads of perspiration trickled down my forehead; the Grotto heats up like a pizza oven when all the candles are lit.

July 12, 2013; Grotto pano. Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame

July 12, 2013; Grotto pano. Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame

After I finished shooting every possible angle with my volunteer models, a group from a wedding rehearsal held earlier in the Basilica gathered in front of the Grotto with candles. I quickly decided to shoot a high dynamic range (HDR) panoramic. HDR photography is a process that allows you to combine bracketed exposures to capture detail in lightest and darkest areas of an image.

I crawled back into my sweltering corner and shot a series of bracketed exposures as I panned from side to side, capturing the entire scene.


Later on my computer, I combined the series of bracketed images in Photomatix Pro software.

Grotto unstiched72

I then stitched the processed images together in Photoshop.
Creating a HDR panoramic of the Grotto. Ta-dah!

July 12, 2013; Grotto pano. Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame

HOWEVER, the photograph that was selected for the art piece was one I captured just before packing up my gear and calling it a night! All I had to do was stand back and wait for the perfect moment!

July 12, 2013; Grotto pano. Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame

*To purchase any of the images in this blog simply click on the image.  You will be directed to our photo store where you will be able to process a photo print order. For any image from the University photographers please visit photos.nd.edu.

Barbara Johnston

23 thoughts on “HDR Panoramic of the Grotto

  1. Beautiful pictures the Grotto at Notre Dame is the most peaceful and beautiful place I have ever been. I really love spending time there.

  2. Beautiful work, Barbara. I spent many nights at the Grotto during my student years at ND asking for prayers and Divine Intervention during mid-terms and finals! I look forward to each visit.

  3. Such a lovely place to be. Fr. Corby was giving thanks to an answered prayer by having it built. I spent quite a bit of time there in quiet thought back when I was a seminarian at Moreau. A lovely place to sit in silence.

  4. Gorgeous work! We are looking forward to our return to this most splendid place.

  5. These are astounding! I cannot even describe the emotions that I feel when I see these pictures. Will these be for sale in the ND bookstore as prints?

    Class of ’88

    • I can’t begin to describe the difference between seeing it on a computer screen and seeing it in print. They are available as prints on http://photos.nd.edu/ along with so many other spectacular Notre Dame photos by Barbara Johnston and Matt Cashore.

  6. Awesome photos. Really shows the depth of feelings that I get whenever I see the Grotto. You have captured it wonderfully. God bless. Go Irish!

  7. Would a copy by available of the lovely last shot shown above? My husband of 44 years, LTCol Edwin V Harrington, JR,USAF retired, class of 1966 BS in Electrical Engineering and MS in Electrical Engineering from Notre Dame in 1968 has a 69th birthday coming up soon..would love to have it to present to him. He proposed to me after we had said prayers at the Grotto after his graduation in 1968, while sitting on a bench( that is not there any longer) . Thank you so much for capturing this special place in a true moment of grace. Your artistic eye is a true gift to us all Barbara Johnston. Elaine Sullivan Harrington.

  8. When on campus the Grotto is the first place that visit as I feel close to Blessed Mother Mary. The Grotto is a blessing to all people.
    Thanks for the outstanding photographs.

  9. Do you ever package your photo’s up for the purpose of using as desktop wall papers? I would love to buy them for that purpose, but it appears that they’re only available to be purchased as actual prints.

  10. Hi Barbara,
    Thank you so much for your beautiful photos. The grotto has always been our favorite place to visit when we are at ND. You did such an impressive job of capturing the moment.
    I am the mother of the bride who had the candle ceremony when you shot the pictures and that was my son in the last special photo you took. I had purchased the last two photos but I was wondering if you had captured more pictures of the rehearsal party that did not make it to this blog?

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