Castle photography tips for during the shoot
Find the right height for your tripod
It’s easy to shoot most of your shots from your eye level, or from the height of your tripod. But varying the height of the camera is a great way of refreshing your photo composition. The shot on the right was taken from the same position as the image below, but the tripod was much lower so the camera was nearer the rocks in the foreground. This gave a significantly different perspective.
Look for anchor points in your composition
“When we arrived at Dunstanburgh, in Northumberland, it was still practically dark,” Oliver says. “And as the day broke, it was clear that the sun was going to take its time to break through the clouds. However, this gave Chris plenty of time to give me some great advice about how to set up my camera, and how to organise the shot for when the light did get better.
“He made me look for anchor points in the foreground to capture and hold the viewer’s attention. Finding one of these was a matter of choosing the right rock for the foreground – it was important that they weren’t so wide that they created a wall across the frame.
“Chris then told me to look for the lead-in lines – such as the crashing waves – that lead the eye through the image to the castle. He described it as being like telling a story – you need a beginning, a middle and an end.
“A three-stop ND grad, lent to my by Chris, ensured that I still had enough detail in the sky when the light finally broke. Getting the final shot was a matter of waiting and taking enough photos so the waves broke in the right place.”
Maximising depth of field
Chris showed Apprentice Oliver how to use depth of field tables to set the focus to the hyperfocal distance, ensuring everything was sharp.
Bring out the ultra-wide zoom
To fill as much of the foreground with the dunes, Oliver switched to using his Sigma 10-20mm.
Shelter in a storm
Our Apprentice leaned against a hut for extra support – and to get out of the gale-force winds – as he shot the castle.
Use flash to light your foreground
“As luck would have it, we managed to pick what was probably the windiest day of the year for our shoot!” Oliver says. “However, despite the severe wind chill, the weather turned out nicely from a lighting point of view.
“After our first few shots we headed back up the coast to Bamburgh Castle, aiming to get a photo looking at it through the dunes. We found the right place quickly enough, with a small path through the sand leading the eye straight through the dunes towards the castle.
“The trouble was that the foreground was too dark, and we were losing the texture of the grasses. Chris’s ingenious solution was to use flash, connected to my camera with a sync lead, and then bounce it off a reflector held in position by his trusty assistant, who had his work cut out in that wind!”
Use a reflector to bounce light
Chris bounced the Speedlight off the reflector to illuminate the dunes and pick out the grasses, as Oliver nailed the perfect fill-flash shot.
Framing abstract shots
“We crossed the causeway to Holy Island and consulted the tide times, but realised we’d arrived too late – if we made the trek across to Lindisfarne Castle, we would be stranded on the island until after dark!” Oliver says.
“Rather than heading straight back to the mainland, we decided to explore the picture possibilities of the causeway itself. The patterns in the sand created by the sea were really striking, and Chris urged me to zoom in close and isolate these in the frame.
“Placing the lines diagonally across the frame created the best shot, but the contrast needed significant boosting in Photoshop in order for me to end up with a good-looking image.”
PAGE 1: Meet our professional photographer and apprentice
PAGE 2: Castle photography tips for during the shoot
PAGE 3: Final tips from our professional photographer
PAGE 4: Our professional photographer’s recommended gear for pictures of castles
PAGE 5: Shot of the Day
The landscape’s greatest challenges: a free photography cheat sheet
Creative landscape photography: master the dark art of shadows and shade
The landscape photographer’s guide to shooting anywhere: free photography cheat sheet