Month: June 2011

20 Jun

Exorcising the Dunstall Castle Ghosts

On a family visit up to Worcestershire, I got the urge to get out and about with the camera. Scanning the OS maps, I settled on Dunstall Castle, a late 18th / early 19th century folly just a few miles from Upton on Severn on the Croome Court estate. This place used to give me the creeps in a “Dr Who, behind the sofa” way when I was a kid. When Mum & Dad drove home the “back way” from my Gran’s house, they would go over a small hill, come around a corner, and the spooky “castle” would come into view. Somehow its derelict state, and position on a small back road at the side of the common would put the shivers down my spine.

No such effect now – but then I am 35 years older.

It was a showery day, with stormy clouds moving quickly across the sky, and I thought it would make for a good long exposure shot with the 10-stopper. When I parked the car, I left Helen inside. Young Connor had just fallen asleep and Helen said I should wander off for a few minutes to get my shot. Well, it was difficult, with telephone wires crossing the road right in front of the structure, and the road passing right by, to find a decent composition. I wandered around and found my inspiration fading away, especially as I got caught in a shower.

I managed to set up shop directly opposite, and under the wires for my long exposure. If I got down low enough, the foreground grass might block out the road. A three-minute exposure later, and the LCD screen told me I might have something to work with.

That shot in the bag, I wandered off with the camera and tripod seeking out some unique viewpoints for straight shots. A small path worn into the grass near the folly itself tempted me into some wide-angle shots with the path as lead-in and the clouds as a backdrop. I quickly got into “excited mode” and rattled off tons of shots from several angles. Just as I thought I was getting a bit “click happy” I went back to the car to find a none too pleased wife telling me that I’d been gone for an hour and twenty minutes. Whoops. But I think the photographic mojo is definitely back.

And I’m not scared of this place any more.

Three Minute Exposure, Dunstall Castle

Dunstall Castle

15 Jun

Re-discovering the Photographic Mojo

My last post was somewhat negative and based around a photographic lull. Having sent my beloved 24-105 lens off for repair, I thought I’d wait until it was back and have a break from photography to recharge the batteries. However, on a family outing to South Devon, I managed to cajole myself a short detour to the Kingswear Daymark Tower with my 17-40. I have seen many photos from others of this place and wanted a go myself. Having found it I was initially disappointed to see that the crops surrounding it had been cut and my preconceived shot of the tower with crops swaying in the breeze had to be binned. However, I saw the looming shower clouds further inland and based a shot around that. I deliberately placed the tower centre frame and went for a symmetric shot, having taken care to ensure that I was in the right position to the tower’s “legs”. It was midday (family outing, remember) so the light was never going to be fantastic, but the tower was briefly lit up and I rattled off a small sequence, during which the excitement of getting something special came back. Now, this is not too special, but it re-ignited the spark and I’m now looking forward to the return of my fave lens, and getting out and about again.

Daymark Tower