Photographing Sacred Places | Heiligenkreuz Abbey, Austria

The tomb of Duke Frederick II and a beautiful stained glass window at Heiligenkreuz Abbey, Austria

My visit to Heiligenkreuz Abbey was on a bright, sunny day. Situated near the Austrian capital the drive through the Vienna woods, known as the Wienerwald, made for a very enjoyable trip.

Founded in 1133 by St. Leopold III The abbey is a lovely, peaceful place. The oldest and continuously active Cistercian monastery in the world it was visited by Pope Benedict XVI in 2007.

Regarded as one of the most beautiful monasteries in the world it offers the photographer numerous opportunities. However, as it's only possible to enter the monastery as part of a tour, I had to make my photos immediately after the rest of the group had left each of the numerous spaces we visited. I then had to hurry along and catch up before repeating the process at the next location.

How To Experience Peace And Beauty In Your Photos

The last Babenberg Duke, Frederick II, known as Frederick the Quarrelsome, is buried here. A former ruler of the country he died in 1246 and is buried in a romanesque sculptured tombstone in the middle of the Chapter House. It's a lovely, peaceful and contemplative space within the monastery.

The warmth of wood and leather greets visitors to this lovely chapel at Helligenkreuz Abbey in Austria.

How To Make Photos Under Low Light Conditions Without A Tripod

To do justice to this most wonderful place a tripod, more time and a more contemplated approach are needed. But we do what we can with the opportunities available to us.

I often find myself photographing, without a tripod, down as slow as ⅛ second with a wide-angle or standard focal length lens. You're not supposed to be able to achieve sharpness at such a slow shutter speed, particular with high resolution digital sensors. But I'm well practiced with this technique and I'm very confident in my ability to achieve sharp results under such conditions.

I love working under low levels of existing light and only resort to flash at the utmost end of need.

If ever you are in Vienna you can reach Heiligenkreuz Abbey as part of a day trip that can include, as mine did, a drive through the Vienna Woods with stops at other interesting locations along the way. I certainly recommend it.

Glenn Guy, Travel Photography Guru