Christchurch Castle


Christchurch is a beautiful old town which dates back to the seventh century. For its relatively small size, it packs an awful lot in, from quaint pubs, riverside eateries and some pretty nifty views of Southbourne and Mudeford beaches.

It also has some pretty serious ancient architecture mixed in with the modern buildings and shops, including the famous Priory, and also this castle. If you don’t know it’s there, it takes you by surprise, as it sits just round the corner from the main town centre, so one minute you’re passing by every-day shops and restaurants, and the next you’re confronted with this dramatic 1,000 year-old ruin at the top of a hill.

This was a well-planned shot with a real purpose; to capture the gritty drama of the castle, make the viewer almost powerless to do anything other than want to venture up the steps – and to do it all whilst only taking one shot. Digital cameras make it easy to get into bad habits and it’s useful to test yourself from time to time, so after a few trigger-happy sessions, I thought it would be good practice and a good challenge to take my time, really stop and think about what I was doing, and get it right in one go.

However, even with all the time in the world, nothing is every entirely straightforward with me…at the bottom of the steps is a few feet of level grass, before a steep slope down to the bottom of the hill. Armed even with my widest lens, the only way I could fit the rocks on both sides of the base of the steps into the photo was by putting enough distance between my camera and the foot of the steps, which meant once again perching in a mildly delicate position, this time balancing right on the cusp of a steep, muddy bank.

Thankfully I managed to do a good job of standing up (I’ve been practising for a long time now) and managed to avoid any drama, but there’s one area of landscape photography which I’m yet to master – how to respond to being asked what I’m doing when I’m standing with a large tripod and camera pointing at a stunning sunset, rolling hills or 1,000-year castle ruins.

Part of the Bournemouth and Christchurch collection.

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