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Photographing Castles

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Category: Architecture

Castle Photography - Heading off to photograph one of the many castles in the UK? Have a look at our tips first.

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Castle

Gear:

  • Tripod – If you're working your way around the outside of the structure you'll need a light tripod, one with a spirit level will help. Manfrotto's 290 Series tripods are lightweight and offer a variety of load capacities making them suitable for most cameras up to DSLRs. 
  • Pocket Tripod – When you visit some of the UK's castles you'll find a tripod's not allowed to be taken inside which can be a bit of a pain as it's guaranteed to be darker so you'll need slightly longer shutter speeds. Fastening one of Manfrotto's Pocket Series tripods to your DSLR/compact will mean you can find a surface, even if it's uneven, and place your camera on it to keep it still.
  • Wide-angle lens – Get all of the castle in one shot.
  • Longer lenses – focus in on detail or if the castles further away, use the longer reach to zoom in on the castle so it fills the frame.
  • Camera bag – You need bag that will fit all of your kit but not get you stuck when you're trying to navigate small stairwells and working your way through crowds. A Shoulder Bag or Sling will be easier to access in small spaces than a rucksack and models include the BRIO 10 SLING DOVE available in the Manfrotto STILE PLUS range. 
  • ND graduated filter – Help darken bright skies when you're shooting wide, scenic views.

Technique:


Research

Pre-planning can mean the difference between a successful day of shooting and only returning home with a handful of shots because you spent most of the day walking around trying to find good spots to shoot from. Have a look at how other photographers have shot the castle you're visiting. You should find plenty of advice online but if you're still stuck for ideas, have a quick look in the castle's gift shop for postcards as these should give you plenty of ideas on what angles work and won't don't.

Watch Those Verticals

If you're shooting uphill or are closer to the castle walls and are shooting up it can end up looking like the walls are slopping in on your final shot. You can buy lenses specifically designed to stop this but they're expensive so unless you're going to shoot architecture professionally, or on a more regular basis, you're better off just correcting the shot in Photoshop after. You can also find a higher spot to shoot from and there should be plenty of windows or tops of towers you can take your photos from.


Include The Surroundings Or Shoot Up Close?

If the castle has particularly majestic surroundings include it but if your castle now sits surrounded by more modern buildings crop in. For sites where there are only a few walls left standing try some close-up photography. Look for walls that are full of cracks and moss as you'll get a few shots for your texture collection.

Moil

Make A Frame

You won't be short of windows, doorways and arches that can be turned in to frames for your photos. Just remember to include your 'frame' at the edge of the photo and try and, where possible, shoot straight on so your frame doesn't sit wonky.

Lead The Eye In

Bridges over moats and corridors which seem to stretch on forever can be used to lead the viewer's eye from one point of the shot to another. If they're several archways or columns that line the corridor walls even better as they often form symmetrical patterns that will add further interest to your shot.

Inside

If you can take your tripod inside the castle do as the darker conditions will mean you need longer shutter speeds and you can get shake in your images with you take them hand-held. If you're using your Smart Phone for taking images consider using a small LED light alongside it to enhance the quality of your images. The KLYP iPhone cover can be used to attach accessories such as an LED light to your Smart Phone and various combinations are available. 

Stairs curving up and around with the old walls make great subjects but as there's very little light, you may want to try shooting several shots at different exposures and merging them together once you're home. For more tips on HDR take a look at our previous article: HDR Tips.

If it's a particularly busy day longer shutter speeds can help 'remove' some of the tourists from your shot. Or, you could try using a shutter speed that turns the visitor's movement into ghost-like streaks for a more abstract approach.


People

At larger castles such as Warwick you'll find people in costumes and there are often days when special events such as jousting take place. For tips on photographing re-enactments take a look at our previous articles: Battle re-enactment photography, jousting, living museums.


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