San Francisco de Asis mission church

May 08, 2016  •  5 Comments

On Friday morning in Taos, I met with Stacey Otte-Demangate, Executive Director of the Wildling Museum of Art and Nature in Solvang, California.  She and her husband were on an exploratory trip of northern New Mexico art and galleries.  We discussed myriad things - which artists and photographers might have work that would highlight the mission of the museum and be suitable for future shows, as well as Taos galleries that could be of interest.  I also showed them a selection of my varied photographic work.  The nighttime shot of the San Francisco de Asis Mission Church in Ranchos de Taos was of particular interest to them, so today's blog features several images of the historic icon.

Built by and under the supervision of Franciscan fathers in the late 1700s and early 1800s, the church is one of the most artistically celebrated in the United States and possibly in the world.  Artists and photographers including Georgia O'Keefe, Ansel Adams, Paul Strand and thousands of others have rendered it from top to bottom in their work.  The buttresses on the rear and sides of the structure are of great visual interest, and the texture of the mud plaster over adobe bricks lends it a strikingly rich character.  New mud is regularly and lovingly hand-applied by volunteers, leaving a surface that prompts the viewer to touch its grain.

In any beginning photography class, teachers frequently discuss the "rule of thirds" - a technique for achieving solid and interesting composition.  But occasionally, strict interpretation of the rule can and sometimes must be adjusted.  The Ranchos church is an example of how the rule can be tweaked to demonstrate different aspects of the structural elements.


The photograph below shows how one of the buttresses helps support the point where two of the building walls come together.

Ranchos church north sideRanchos church north side   

Moving to the opposite side, the large rear buttress is revealed, as are vigas or wood beams that protrude through the adobe wall at the top.

Ranchos de Taos church black and whiteRanchos de Taos church black and white


A similar shot of the famous back elevation Ranchos church rear buttress viewRanchos church rear buttress view

And a full elevation of San Francisco de Asis in the snow on a cold January night.

Ranchos church on a snowy nightRanchos church on a snowy night


If you are interested in seeing the church, drive to Ranchos de Taos from the north or south on State Road 68,  look for the Ranchos post office on one side of the highway, and Old Martina's Hall on the opposite side.  You will see this elevation.  Information about the Wildling Museum can be found at:

All photographs published in my blog can be viewed in a larger size, and can be purchased in a number of different sizes on archival paper by going to my website under the photographs category.  Many thanks for reading!

until next Monday,


a passion for the [email protected]


Catherine Sobredo(non-registered)
Beautiful captures of this beautiful giving structure that offers so many renditions!
Steve Immel(non-registered)
Thanks for the splendid exploration of Ranchos Church, Daryl. They're all great and I agree with Terry that the cross peaking out above the adobe structure is special.
Daryl A. Black(non-registered)
Glad you are enjoying the print, Sara. It was a magical moment. Thanks, Terry, for your comment as well.
Sara Woodburn(non-registered)
Thank you for sharing your contacts and experience with Stacey. I'm sure your association with the Wildling Museum will continue to grow and be beneficial for all. Their mission is truly inspiring. I continue to love your print of Ranchos church here on my wall in Santa Barbara.
Terry Thompson(non-registered)
I love the last photo of the cold January night. The white cross peeking over the top is splendid.
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