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Quick Stately Home And Castle Photography Tips

If you're heading out on a day trip to a castle or stately home this summer, have a read of this.

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A visit to one of England's many castles and stately homes is a great way to entertain the whole family during the school holidays and they also give you a fantastic opportunity to take a few photos. With this in mind, here's our top tips on photographing stately homes, castles and other historic buildings.

Thoresby Hall


Awide angle lens is a must for photographing both castles and stately homes. It will enable you to get the whole building in the frame, and create a nice wide open feel to the grounds. There will be some distortion if you're shooting at the wider setting, but this can be corrected in Photoshop or Lightroom. You could also try finding a shooting position with some height to reduce converging verticals when shooting with a wide lens.

Wide angle lenses are also useful for inside the buildings, especially stately homes. It will enable you to capture a shot of the majority of the room, rather than just a section of it.

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Find out if tripods and flash are allowed before you carry them to the entrance. It's also worth checking what can and can't be photographed as sometimes restrictions are put in place.


Panoramas are a great for when the grounds are worth getting in the frame at either side of the house or castle. Most of today's cameras have a panorama mode of some kind, and usually you press the shutter and pan the camera before letting go to capture the shot. If you want to shoot your panoramas manually, take a look at these tutorials: 

Montacute House, Somerset, England, UK

Photo by David Clapp -

Detail Shots

Castles and stately homes will no doubt have some intricate textures and objects that will work well for close up photos. Castle walls, stately home doors, and fine ornaments all make good close up subjects. When you want to create these frame-filling shots of detail such as carvings and stone work, use a longer zoom rather than a wide lens.

Exposure Corrections

Shafts of light coming through small windows into dark rooms can really confuse your camera's exposure system. In such cases either point at an area without the light and take a reading knowing the highlights will be overexposed, or shoot a few frames and merge them using a HDR program so you have a balance of highlights and shadows.

Post Production

Often, shots of old buildings such as castles and stately homes look great with black and white or sepia effects applied to them. Some cameras allow you to apply these effects in cameras, however it's often a good idea to take your shot without a filter applied so you can edit your shots when you get home and still have the original to return to if you don't like the effect. Take a look at these tutorials which will show you how to apply various effects:

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tonyguitar 9 77 37 Canada
1 Aug 2012 5:22PM
Lighting quality and angle are most important for stonework and feature relief. Long light, [that is dawn or dusk], will always enhance quality and colour for old castles, churches and monuments.

The sad part of most old church and castle images is that they are so often taken mid morning or afternoon when light is flat or too harsh. That's when most people are touring after a good breakfast or lunch. Earn your breakfast. Take the castle and cathedral images first during early long light. Then enjoy breakfast.

You can imagine how much better old church and gravestones look when the light casts long shadows and warmly accents the stone and brickwork textures and the window and door frames. TG
2 Aug 2012 4:05PM
Thank you for the added tips Tony.

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