My flight from Australia arrived early morning and to help my body get used to the different time zone I was determined to keep busy until the sun set. A walking tour of Edinburgh combined with photography advice seemed like the perfect way to adjust to UK time and enjoy the sights. My art teacher was also arriving that day so she and I had signed up to join a small walking tour of Edinburgh’s old town led by local photographer Will from Iconic Tours.
We met Will outside the main entrance of St Giles Cathedral where he took us through aperture and shutter priority, two settings that would make taking photographs easier without relying on auto. The clouds above us were ominous, the tour would go on regardless and Will had a plan if the weather really turned to shite. The technical aspect is not all that we learned, we were encouraged and guided to look at potential subjects from a different perspective.
Inside St Giles Cathedral
Detail of the caarved stone portico at the main entrance to St. Giles Cathedral
Dragon gargoyles on St Giles exterior
One of the numerous characters carved into the facade surrounding the main entrance
View of St Giles from Parliament Square
The statue was erected in 1685 as a tribute to Charles II (1630-1685). This life size stature depicts Charles dressed in Roman military dress. It is situated in Parliament Square, in front of the Parliament Buildings and behind St Giles Cathedral
The Royal Mile forms the main thoroughfare through Edinburgh’s old town, popular with tourists it is home to many shops selling whisky, fudge, tartan scarves, kilts and various other souvenirs. Groups of tourists following guides in kilts compete for prime position in front of the main sights, the sound of bagpipes being played fills the air and attracts the interest of happy snappers as does the various street performers now using the pedestrian zone as their stage. The red phone booths are perfect for experimenting with shutter speed, stopping people in their tracks with a fast shutter speed and creating a feeling of movement with a slower one. Here we also try using manual mode, previous experiments helps me understand the theory however the time it takes for me to capture the shot is longer and the experience a little frustrating.
As the main square fills with people we venture to quieter parts of town to hone our skills, such as the Council Chambers carpark, Advocates Close and Parliament Square. Will shows us a series of golden handprints in the footpath, recipients of the Edinburgh Award and we listen to him tell the tale of John Knox and his final resting place which is now a carpark near St Giles.
Crowds on the Royal Mile, Edinburgh
Traditional red phone booths on the Royal Mile
Author JK Rowling last year became the second recipient of the Edinburgh Award and her handprints can be seen in the City Chambers quadrangle.
Writing dating back several centuries can be seen above a doorway in Advocate’s Close
Playing with depth of field
Experimenting with shutter speed on the Royal Mile and starring tour guide Will
View of the Scott Monument from Advocate’s Close on the Royal Mile
Getting off the Royal Mile and exploring the other parts of the old town is a must, Victoria Street is a colourful and beautiful part of the city lined with popular restaurants, bars and cafes. It is easy to see why it is so popular with photographers on instagram. Will recommended a few places for dinner and some cheap eats for lunch, sadly we never got there but it is something to look forward to on my next trip to Scotland, whenever that may be.
The Princes St Garden is a beautiful place to take a walk in spring, the tulips are in bloom and the garden beds are filled with vibrant colour. Viewing the castle from below the rock will give you an appreciation of the effort and engineering that went into creating such a formidable looking and enduring structure, Edinburgh Castle dominates the skyline.
Three hours well spent, the tour only cost $100AUD and in addition Will emailed a document containing all his tips and advice. Had I not signed up for the tour I probably would have found myself wandering aimlessly all afternoon and I would have missed all those wonderful photo opportunities.
Looking up at the castle from the Princes St Gardens
Princes Street Garden and the Scott Monument can be seen in the background
The Call Statue. The Scottish American Memorial, or Scots American War Memorial
Edinburgh’s old town skyline
George Heriot’s School from Victoria Street
Gorgeous blooms in the Princes St gardens
Experimenting with the ‘ghost’ technique
Deacon Brodie’s Tavern
Victoria Street, Edinburgh
Edinburgh Castle as seen from the Princes Street Gardens. The Ross Fountain can be seen in the foreground and has stood in West Princes Street Gardens for more than 140 years.