Winchester Cathedral photography

Earlier this week I enjoyed an impromptu afternoon in Winchester. The sun was shining so I called a friend for lunch (well, a salad and a drink from trusty M&S) and we sat and soaked up the spring sunshine in the Cathedral grounds.

Winchester Cathedral

Winchester Cathedral in the spring sunshine

Winchester Cathedral is one of the largest in the country and is steeped in history. I’m not about to launch into a historical review of the building, mainly because, I won’t lie, Cathedral history isn’t exactly my Mastermind subject of choice, and besides, the Cathedral’s own website has plenty of historical detail – and if that can’t help, then I stand no chance.

Winchester Cathedral

Winchester Cathedral

I was there just because.

To enjoy the architecture, the quiet grandeur, the stillness, the celebration of all that is great about our country. Ok, so I know it’s a celebration of all that is great about God, but for me it’s more than that (sorry God).

Winchester Cathedral hymns

Winchester Cathedral hymns

It’s about the men who built the Cathedral, who painted the stained glass windows, William Walker the diver who saved the building from collapse from flooding, the lives of the people buried there, the lives of the men who fought in battle and are remembered there, and the lives of the people we love and light candles for.

We remember

We remember

We Remember

Remembrance memorial, Winchester Cathedral

I lit candles for family and friends and asked whoever, or whatever is out there to look after them. I hope someone was listening.

Remembrance Candles

Remembrance candles. I hope someone or something was listening.

And then I enjoyed the Antony Gormley Sound II sculpture.

Antony Gormley Sound II

Antony Gormley Sound II, water and reflections

Go during wet months whilst the Crypt is flooded for a special view of the lonely sculpture standing amongst the reflections of the arches.

Perfect for an afternoon of wandering and wondering with your camera in tow.

Photography therapy in Greenwich, London

Cutty Sark from the visitor centre entrance

Cutty Sark from the visitor centre entrance

Any caring doctor concerned for the welfare of his photography geek patient should prescribe a day return to Greenwich.

With the Cutty Sark, the Royal Observatory, the National Maritime Museum, the Planetarium and Greenwich Market, it’s like giving a high dose of photo opportunity overexposure therapy. Which is right up my street. And so it was that together with four of my photography course classmates and tutor we made our way to the big smoke for some photography geekery. I mean therapy.

National Maritime Museum for the Ansel Adams exhibition

Within minutes I was caught out. ‘No photography please madam’.

Ansel Adams at the National Maritime Museum

Ansel Adams at the National Maritime Museum

Expecting photography geeks (I hate the term ‘enthusiasts’ – it’s such a geeky word) at a photography exhibition not to take photos is just daft.

Especially when the exhibition is Ansel Adams, one of the most commercialised collections of landscape images in the world. Not only was he a pioneer in photography, but inadvertently led the way in terms of tourism guides and travel inspiration. If you want to sell a location, think Adams. The exhibition is the photographic equivalent of a blow-your-mind Wish You Were Here from the mountains, waterfalls and coastline of his native California.

What harm’s my grainy little lopsided snapshot on my phone going to do? I know, I know, it’s a slippery slope – and I should probably buy a print in the foyer – except I can’t email that to my husband to show him where our next holiday needs to be. Maybe I’ve just discovered another commercial opportunity – images to buy for your phone – ‘as if’ you’ve taken them yourself. Either way, I didn’t manage to sneak a shot, so we’ll just have to book a flight instead.

The exhibition itself was superb. Over 100 original prints on display, a mini-documentary and film interview with Ansel (people sat on the floor and squeezed into corners in the packed cinema room and actually stayed, engrossed, for the duration) and an interactive collection of public photos inspired by the work of Adams. Curated through Flickr and Twitter, Flickr users were invited to submit ‘photographs of ‘water in all its forms’, with exhibition visitors invited to live-vote for their favourite images using touch screens. From an experience point of view (and with my marketing hat on), this was an especially nice touch.

Needless to say, Adams’ images are stunning and timeless. Composition, lighting, exposure, focus, drama, scale, subject. Add to the fact that many were taken in the early twentieth century – and all were taken with film camera. All the things you appreciate when working with a digital camera with instant results and the capacity to throw images away and start again. I came away inspired, if somewhat daunted by how much I’ve got to learn.

The Cutty Sark

Heaven for playing with my new wide angle toy (a Canon 10-22mm), the Cutty Sark visitor centre is crammed full of photo opportunities.

Cutty Sark from the visitor centre entrance

Cutty Sark from the visitor centre entrance

The ship sits moored inside a glass roofed visitor centre. Look up and you can see the ship’s mast. Look down and you can see her copper hull. The glass lets through lots of natural light, whilst the metal framework of the centre creates lots of lovely lines.

Symmetry in the Cutty Sark Visitor Centre

Symmetry in the Cutty Sark Visitor Centre

I got the impression there’s lots to learn too. To be honest I didn’t really take much in – I was like a kid in a sweet shop with my new toy and I wasn’t about to get bogged down learning about the history of tea. As fascinating as I’m sure it is.

It was a wet and dull day and so not brilliant for outdoor shots. Nor did we get the chance to visit the observatory or a mooch around Greenwich Market – which looks perfect for colourful street photography. All of which gives me the perfect excuse (if ever one were needed) to go back on a clear sunny day for a further dose of photo therapy. Care to join me?

Related articles and other stuff you might enjoy…

Travels with my camera in Brighton

If you’re after a day out with the camera, but can’t decide between people-spotting street photography, seaside fun, iconic monuments, bright lights or dramatic seascapes, Brighton is a good bet, spoiling you with a good mix of all the above – and more.

First up, people-spotting street photography along Kensington Street in the North Laine area of the city is given a colourful twist with the impressive street art.

Brighton graffiti street photography

Brighton street photography

The art, which has become a tourist attraction, was backed by the forward-thinking Brighton & Hove City Council in a move to clear up and prevent antisocial behaviour and graffiti.

Brighton wall art

Brighton wall art is an attraction in itself

For iconic monuments, how about the skeletal yet majestic West Pier? Claimed to be the most photographed monument in the city, it’s easy to see why. Built in 1866 it was visited by millions until it was badly damaged by a storm in 2002 and later destroyed by arson in 2003.

West Pier kayaking

West Pier kayaking

Now standing defiantly in front of The Hilton Metropole on King’s Road, the structure is an attraction for watersports enthusiasts, sunbathers and photographers alike.

Lazy, Hazy Sunday at Brighton's West Pier

Lazy, Hazy Sunday at Brighton’s West Pier

From one pier to another, the funfair on the famous Brighton Pier is a spectacle. I couldn’t resist this shot of a girl creating her own Brighton memories with the camera on her phone.

Girl on Brighton beach

Picture perfect – a girl capturing her own memories on Brighton’s pebble beach

At night the pier is a fantastic jangle of lights and colour, both looking towards the Pier…

Brighton Pier at night - a jangle of lights and colours

Brighton Pier at night – a jangle of lights and colours

…and from it…

Brighton Beach at night

Brighton Beach from the Pier at night

…as well as on it.

Tin Can Alley on Brighton Pier

Tin Can Alley on Brighton Pier

Brighton is a fantastic place for people spotting and the amusements arcade on Brighton Pier is as good a place as any. For some rather brilliant Brighton people photography inspiration take a look at these.

You could easily spend a day ambling around taking in and capturing the eclectic mix of old and new, and the ‘take me as you find me’ creative essence of Brighton. And of course, if the weather’s rotten there’s always plenty of good shops to while away the time.

What’s your favourite Brighton photo spot?

Related articles and websites

Giant’s Causeway and more. Five must-see photo opportunities in Northern Ireland

Our weekend in Northern Ireland started well. Nature and Flybe had treated us to front row seats to a magical sunset performance above the clouds, flying from Southampton Airport had been easy, baggage collection at Belfast airport was nice and simple, and we’d picked up our hire car with no drama.


Sun setting above the clouds – nature’s party piece

You might think ‘so what’ about the hire car, but having experienced more bumpy  transactions in far-away lands (ok, California, Portugal and France), it made a pleasant change to stroll up, say the name and get handed the keys – without a three hour wait or fuss about mandatory breathalyzer kits and high-vis vests.

And so we made our way north. There’s plenty to see in Belfast and one day we’ll no doubt return to enjoy attractions including the Titanic museum,  but we were off to visit family and enjoy the north eastern coastline of County Antrim.


Pretty village of Cushenden, Northern Ireland

Simply put, the landscape is wild and beautiful and quite apart from spending time with some of my favourite people, I was looking forward to getting out with the camera. My poor family. They are all incredibly patient, but I find that when you’re attached to a camera everything slows down and you see so much more. This is what I love above photography, but it must drive my friends and family nuts when they see me wander off and mutter ‘I won’t be 5 minutes’. They know it’ll be 15.

County Antrim is a landscape photographer’s paradise and this is just a taster of some of the ‘must see’ places to add to your list. Places that’ll have you wandering off for ‘just 5 minutes’ – and desperate to return for more.

5 must-see photo opportunities in Northern Ireland 

  1. The Causeway Coastal Route

Starting in Belfast and twisting up and around the north eastern section of the island, this top tip is a bit of a cheat as it takes in so many wonderful places, including the pretty coastal village of Cushenden (pictured above).

Rough, rugged, rolling green landscape, with crashing grey seas. A ribbon of breathtaking photo locations, no wonder the Northern Ireland Tourist Board declares that this stretch of road is rated as one of the top five road trips worldwide. Their useful Causeway Coastal Route map is worth a look if planning a trip.

2.       Giant’s Causeway

Giant's Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

This totally bonkers place is nature’s way of putting us firmly and squarely in our place. Thousands and thousands (over 40,000) hexagonal rock columns erupting from the surf, all messing with your brain.

Giant's Causeway. Surf and stones.

Giant’s Causeway. Surf and stones.

Man couldn’t even conceive of creating such a bizarre landscape; the fact that nature made it happen, just like that, is, to my unscientific mind, completely incomprehensible. However, (in my opinion) it’s marginally more believable than the legend that it was built by its namesake, the giant Fin McCool.

Giant's Causeway

Giants Causeway. Breathtaking and bonkers.

Giant’s Causeway is an UNESCO World Heritage site and the new National Trust visitor centre has been sympathetically designed to blend seamlessly into the landscape.  It also serves damn good tea and cake, so you can make a real day of it!

Giant's Causeway Visitor Centre

Giant’s Causeway Visitor Centre

Giant's Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

If you visit just one place in Northern Ireland, Giant’s Causeway should be it.

3.       Dunluce Castle

The ruins of late Medieval and 17th century Dunluce Castle are dramatically and precariously perched on the North Antrim cliff edge.

The Department of the Environment Northern Ireland (DOENI) have a virtual tour of the castle. 

The Northern Ireland Tourist Board has more info.

4.       Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge

I was happy to look at this 30m high and 20m long bridge from afar.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge

Built for salmon fishermen to reach Carrick-a-Rede and the ice house, the Causeway Coastal Route website has a detailed history of the bridge.

5.       Rathlin Island

An island of lighthouses, standing stones, an ancient church, a castle, a colony of seals and the RSPB Seabird Centre (home to puffins, guillemots, razorbills and kittiwakes), Rathlin Island is a photographer’s treat.

Legend has it that whilst hiding in a cave on the island, Robert The Bruce was inspired by a spider spinning his web – he planned his return to Scotland to fight for his country.

Getting there is easy. Catch a ferry from the pretty town of Ballycastle.

Tourist Information

Tourist Information

Tempted? You’ll find plenty of really helpful stuff on the following websites. Enjoy! x

Useful Northern Ireland tourist information stuff on these websites

P.S.  What did I miss? Add your ‘must-see’ suggestions below…

Propeller sunset images – and how to find them

Before we’d even landed in Belfast, Nature had spoilt us.

A late afternoon flight from Southampton on a crisp November day meant we were in for a treat. Floating above the clouds somewhere between Southampton and Belfast, Flybe and Mother Nature indulged us with this stunning sunset.

Sunset above the clouds

Propeller sunset – somewhere between Southampton and Belfast.

A view usually reserved for God and pilots, the sun slowly slipped behind the horizon, lighting the sky candyfloss streaks of orange, gold, red and pink. We’ve got an abstract seascape print in our living room. I can lose myself in the ever changing colours, but on that flight Nature was making a point, loud and clear. Anything you can do, I can do better.

With a few spare seats, I took the chance to move about the plane with the camera and take as many shots as possible. All around, people snoozed, catching up on a precious 40 winks, unaware that we had exclusive front row seats to Nature’s evening party piece.


Sun setting above the clouds – nature’s party piece

Lesson learnt: photo opportunities never stop, even when you’re thousands of metres above the earth.

If you’re booking a sunset or sunrise flight, think about the direction of travel. We were flying west, so the sun was setting out of the left hand side of the plane. If you’ve got a choice of seats, think about the best place to sit and enjoy the view.

Have your camera ready on a flight and you could get lucky with a front row seat to an exclusive exhibition courtesy of your pilot and Mother Nature.

Hillier Gardens 50/50 Photo and Paint Exhibition

If you live anywhere near Romsey in Hampshire and love photography, art or nature (or a combination of all three), get yourself down to the Sir Harold Hillier Gardens for the 50/50 Photo and Paint exhibition.

It’s totally free and is packed full of beautiful prints from local artists and photographers, including Anne Ruffell (I especially like her striking monochrome architecture images), Roy Brophy and Paul Sansome, who, it has to be said, is a bit of a landscape photography genius. I was mesmerised by his images of the Tuscan Hills in the dawn mist.

Go now, whilst the leaves are turning colour to enjoy the stunning gardens.

I say they’re stunning – I didn’t actually have time to venture into the gardens, but if the trees in the car park are anything to go by, you’re in for a treat.

Autumn at Hilliers

Autumn at Hillier Gardens

Autumn leaves

Autumn leaves


It’s big, it’s brash and, in parts at least, it’s beautiful.

Dubai is a dazzling metropolis in the middle of the desert. The realisation of a monarch’s dream to make the city a world-leading wealth generator, it is famous for its sky-high towers and its addiction to world firsts, biggests and tallests.

In the heart of the Arab middle east, a Westerner might think that a trip to Dubai would be an educational voyage of discovery into the culture and habits of the Arab world, but in reality, this commercial congregation of businesses and tourists from across the world makes this city very much Middle-East lite.

One of seven Emirates (collectively, the United Arab Emirates – UAE), Dubai gained independence from the UK on 2 December 1971. Since then, businesses from across the globe have flocked to the region, seeking a ride on the wealth-propelling (if a little bumpy) rocket that is this ambitious and forward-thinking city.

For all its seven star hotels, shopping malls (one with an aquarium, one with a ski centre), majestic buildings and crazy developments (man-made islands The Globe and The Palm spring to mind), Dubai, for me at least, lacks a sense of sincere culture and soul. Perhaps all the money spinning mirrored glass has diluted the culture of 50 years ago.

That’s not to say it’s not worth a visit. It absolutely is. It’s one of those destinations you mark as an ‘experience’ and from a photography point of view, there’s plenty to keep you happy. Just a note of caution. If you’re going to go, do so armed with a pre-set budget and don’t be afraid to use it. There’s no such thing as a beach-front Travelodge. It’s pretty much 5 star or no star.

We visited in March. The weather was beautiful – the skies were blue (other than the days of the sandstorm!), the beaches white and the sun bounced off the steel and glass.

Dubai buildings in the early evening sunlight

My brother in law, a Dubai resident, had bought us tickets to the Dubai World Cup  – an experience like no other. A fashion show for Western expats, whose principal aim is to quaff champagne whilst getting papped for the local glossies and websites, the horse racing is a purely incidental affair for the majority of race-goers (Westerners may be influenced by the no-betting policy [do it before you leave home via the internet if you must]). At a mile long, with a capacity of 60,000, and lit seats reminiscent of an 80’s dance-floor, the grandstand is extreme, whilst the no-expense-spared, statement-making fireworks were as dramatic as you’d expect. There were lots of them. They were loud. They were pretty. There was an aerobatic display from a spitfire. Yes, it was impressive.

Meydan Racecourse, Dubai

Meydan Racecourse, Dubai – champagne and glittering lights

Burj Khalifa, Dubai - tallest building in the world

Burj Khalifa, Dubai – tallest building in the world

Elsewhere, the Burj Khalifa, the tallest building in the world, situated just outside the largest shopping mall in the world (The Dubai Mall, complete with must-have aquarium) is a must-see.

We went for Afternoon Tea – and with treats like these, why wouldn’t you?

Burj Khalifa, Dubai Afternoon Tea

The highest tea in the world – Burj Khalifa, Dubai afternoon tea

The best view, so we were reliably informed, is from the ladies toilet. And yes, it’s pretty good. This is the vertigo-inducing view from the restaurant. Not bad?

View of Dubai from Burj Khalifa

View of Dubai from Burj Khalifa

Then there’s the fountains. “You must see the fountains” friends had implored before our trip. If I’m honest I can take or leave fountains. Not these fountains. You absolutely HAVE to see these fountains.

The Dubai fountains

The Dubai fountains

Every evening, a display of synchronised water dancing takes place in the 30-acre lake at the foot of the Burj Khalifa. 275m of fountains, shooting up to 150ft tall, the creators of the Bellagio fountains in Las Vegas masterminded this installation. It’s free, but my recommendation would be to book an outside table and eat at one of the restaurants overlooking the fountain ‘arena’. We ate at Mango Tree. The food was amazing and the view pretty crazy. The best part was seeing the fountains moonwalk to Michael Jackson’s Thriller, which you can see here via the wonder of YouTube.

And finally, the Burj Al Arab, the iconic hotel on the Jumeriah Beach. Beautiful at night and well worth a photo. A good spot is from the bridge outside the Souk Madinat Jumeriah.

Burj Al Arab, Dubai

Burj Al Arab, Dubai

Of course, there’s plenty more to see than all of this. There’s the creek, the gold souks, the golf courses, the sandy beaches and the ski centre. Naturally.

Go, go, go!


If boats and coastal scenes are your thing, the famous and historical Hamble marina near Southampton in Hampshire is a great place to head with the camera.  Someone once said that the area is like the M25 of the sailing world, and they’re not wrong.  As the home of the Royal Yachting Association (RYA), the UK governing body for sailing, powerboating and windsurfing, and the setting of the 1980’s BBC television show, Howard’s Way, it goes without saying that Hamble is a good place to start for all things nautical.

Sun reflecting off boat railings and rigging

Sunshine on Steel – Sun reflecting off boat railings and rigging at Hamble

When the sun’s out, it glistens on the rows of yachts, rigging and water. There’s always plenty of activity in the marina, boatyard and at the various sailing clubs – and there’s a plethora of pubs, cafes and restaurants for keeping you fed and watered.

Whilst there are hundreds, if not thousands of boats moored in and around Hamble,  you may not get to see much adrenaline-filled, spray-forming action, as the boats pootle, rather than race in and out of marina. For that you’ll need to head further round the coast, or, better still, try and get on a boat to get really up-close and personal.

Royal Southern Yacht Club at Hamble

Royal Southern Yacht Club at Hamble

There are various parking spots offering easy walks to different photo opportunities.

Hamble Point Marina give you boats, a wide stretch of water, views out to Fawley and Calshot in one direction and Warsash in the other. As you head into Hamble, take Copse Lane on your right and follow it round into School Lane. Parking just outside the marina is free – although expect it to get busy during high season.

Hamble Point Marina

Hamble Point Marina

Go when the tide is out to be able to walk down onto the rocks and pebble shoreline. I was able to walk out quite a distance, although I did have to keep moving to stop my feet sinking! Make sure to take wellies or old shoes – the ground is muddy and it goes without saying to keep an eye on the environment and how far out is safe.

Fawley from Hamble

Fawley from Hamble

With a view of Fawley Refinery (Exon Mobil are based here and it’s arguably one of the most industrial areas on the Hampshire coast), it’s perhaps not the most idyllic horizon by day. However, wait until sundown for some stunning sunset images with a bit of a difference. The silhouettes are fantastic and with the smoke and the reflections I think it takes some beating.

Sundown at Fawley - from Hamble

Sundown at Fawley – from Hamble

For yet more yachts, river trips and the Hamble – Warsash water taxi, drive further round into Hamble itself and park in The Square car park (there’s free parking for 30 minutes), or continue down into the Foreshore car park.

River Trips from Hamble

River Trips from Hamble

Hamble Warsash Ferry

Hamble Warsash Ferry

The bright pink Hamble – Warsash ferry takes walk-on passengers the short journey across the harbour – good for photos, a bit of fun and means you get to see the coastline from a different angle.  Costs as at 12 May 2012 were £1.50 (adult) / £1.00 (child).

The history books tell us that ferry services have operated across this stretch of water since the time of King Henry VII, though I’m guessing the pink paint is a more recent feature!

Related articles

About the River Hamble

Hamble – Warsah Ferry

Keyhaven and Hurst Castle

English Heritage Hurst Castle

English Heritage Hurst Castle

A lighthouse, an imposing Tudor castle, a cute passenger ferry, views of The Needles off the Isle of Wight, a long stretch of pebbled beach overlooking Christchurch and Mudeford, a harbour and a yacht club with boats glistening in the sunlight.

Keyhaven and Hurst Castle offer some fantastic coastal photo opportunities.

Getting there

On the south coast of England, Keyhaven is a short drive from Lymington, through the pretty village of Milford on Sea  (where there are plenty of tea shops for a quick bite, or local pubs and fish and chip shops for more substantial offerings).

Park at the car park just behind Keyhaven Yacht Club / opposite the Gun Inn, or continue round Saltgrass Lane to park up on the side of the road. I parked at the yacht club, walked towards the sea with the boats on my left and turned right along the path with the marshes on my right and the harbour to my left.  Over the footbridge and up the bank, to reveal a stunning view of the Isle of Wight’s famous rocky outcrop and lighthouse.

A passenger ferry operates if you’d rather save your legs… although when I visited, low tide meant it was out of action.

Keyhaven Hurst Castle Ferry Port

Keyhaven – Hurst Castle ferry port in low tide

Photo Notes

The pebble beach is good news for photographers who want to get that lovely coastal shot, without the risk of sand in precious equipment. Refuelling and refreshment opportunities are scarce though, so snack supplies recommended.

The Castle

Ok, so it’s not a traditionally picturesque turreted fort, but Hurst Castle boasts some pretty impressive historical credentials and its location makes for some stunning views.  When I visited (albeit out of season) it was fairly quiet too, so good for ‘tourist-free’ photos.

Hurst Castle and Lighthouse

Hurst Castle and Lighthouse

Built by Henry VIII and used as the prison of Charles I before his trial and execution, it’s now an English Heritage site, so you can pay to see inside the imposing stone walls, or just take in the views from the outside.

The Lighthouse

Hurst Point Lighthouse, a white and green building on a fairly isolated stretch of land with the hallmark New Forest rough scrub makes for some eye-catching landscape shots.

Hurst Point Lighthouse

Hurst Point Lighthouse

I imagine with the right lighting conditions it would be a good setting for dramatic stormy scenes.

I spotted a lifesaver and almost too good to be true, the lighthouse lines up perfectly through the bright red and white circular frame.

Through the Round Window - Hurst Point Lighthouse through a lifesaver

Through the Round Window – Hurst Point Lighthouse

The Needles

The Needles, a rocky outcrop off the coast of the Isle of Wight are a series of three jagged chalk pillars – hence, ‘needles’, marked by an upside down flashing exclamation mark – or lighthouse. As familiar a British coastal sight as the White Cliffs of Dover, they make for a good focal point on the Hampshire horizon.

The Needles from Hurst Castle

I found a weather-worn groyn to frame a shot of this landmark.

Sailing Sailing

Keyhaven and Keyhaven Yacht Club is a great location for shots of sailing boats, whether in action on the water, or moored in the harbour.

Keyhaven Boats

Keyhaven Boats

I love the way these boats are queuing in an orderly, obedient fashion – ready and waiting to be called into service.