The island of Sylt, up in the northernmost stretch of the German North Sea coastline, is known to be the North Sea island of choice for the rich and the beautiful. And indeed, there aren’t many places in Germany (if any) where you find more Mercedes and Porsches crammed into a small area. Even though I am neither rich nor beautiful, I have been going there at least once every year. On the island of Sylt, the village of Hörnum is arguably the most mundane. While it is still a beautiful village, things seem a bit less polished and a bit more grounded and down-to-earth here, so it doesn’t come as a surprise that I have always stayed here when I was in Sylt.
The St. Thomas Church clearly is a departure from the more mundane appearance of the village. It isn’t very large, so it can’t be called epic, but nonetheless, the design is nothing short of iconic. Conceived by the architect Martin Bernhard Christiansen in 1969/1970, its shape is designed to resemble a sailboat. Set on top of one of the highest dunes of the village, it is visible from afar – and rightly so.
St. thomas Church
I have photographed the church twice over the years. Unfortunately, the angles are limited, so variation must at least partially come from the conditions at the time of the shoot. When I photographed there the first time, I was pretty much into long exposures, so I tried two of those.
Next, I walked in and managed to snap three pics from different angles. The lighting was pretty terrible, and I totally forgot to bring a tripod. But thankfully, LR’s latest AI magic made the photos look clean and usable by working its noise reduction charm.
I didn’t revisit the church until this year. This time, I tried some new angles which only show parts of the church and not the whole building.
The next photo comes in two variations. In fact, the second one is just a tighter crop of the same digital negative. It is a concession to my ongoing obsession with triangles. Removing the portion of the sky on the left creates a frame which solely consists of triangular shapes. I am still not convinced that this composition actually works, but I find it intriguing enough to not delete it.
The next photograph, once again, comes in two variations. This time, the sky displayed some captivating clouds that gracefully complemented the overall composition. Appreciating the natural scene, I made the deliberate choice to capture the moment without resorting to a long exposure technique.
In the last shot, I tried to capture the windows and roof in a way that would make for an interesting composition. I wanted to create a semi-abstract vibe, something interesting and unique.
Keeping up a playful attitude is key to finding new angles, compositions, and concepts. Revisiting the same destination several times also helps to look at the same place in new and different ways, some of which may be a little less obvious than what you saw when you first went there. When I browsed through the images of the St. Thomas Church to compile a selection for this block post, I had one or two new ideas for my next trip to Hörnum and to this church. My relationship with this place isn’t over yet and I am already looking forward to going there again.