I was asked recently to take photos of a castle down on the coast near Portaferry. I was to get a set of images, as well as a floor-plan of the building, for the listing agents Knight Frank (Dublin) and Templeton Robinson (Belfast).
I knew this was going to be a big job when I heard it had 14 bedrooms, but I was thinking “That’s basically the same as four houses joined together. Shouldn’t be a problem. I have shot four houses in a day before”. How wrong I was and I had a very long day on my hands. This place was set on the coast, so I thought “I will get there for the sunrise and get the suns rays glimmering on the water”. Remember this was a couple of weeks back during a long stretch of miserable wet weather across the whole of the UK. Still I thought I might be lucky.
I arrived about early, however not at sunrise as planned, due to traffic, and was guided around the place. I was beginning to think I was going to need an assistant (preferably two or more). This place was bigger than I imagined and, since I needed photos from all corners of the property, I was going to be doing a lot of walking. Unfortunately, although the sun was shining when I arrived, it disappeared behind clouds within thirty minutes, not to be seen again for the remainder of the day. It was looking unlikely I would get the images I needed.
I familiarised myself with the building as I walked around it, but began taking photos immediately as I wasn’t sure how long the rain would hold off. I scrambled out onto the rocks along the bay to get some shots back across the water as I knew these would be wanted by the agencies. I got some good images from this vantage point.
After a couple of hours shooting the outside I ventured indoors to shoot the interior. The problem here was that there were no light fittings in most of the rooms and the rooms were so large that my standard lighting equipment was going to struggle to light them effectively. I decided to put my trust in my camera and shoot at a much higher ISO than I usually do. After a couple of hours and just as I thought I had finished when one of the cleaners asked “Did you photograph the annex?”. There was another set of bedrooms, located down a hallway, that I had completely missed. However, even with only a couple of speedlights and often with no additional lighting, the interiors came out bright and well-lit. Phew… photos finished. Time for a late lunch.
On to the floor-plan, but by now it was about 2:30 and the sun was setting around 4pm. I had to measure all the rooms in the fading light and this took about two hours. It was different to my usual house-plans, which have 15cm-thick interiors walls. These were variable and up to four-feet thick in places, which was making things difficult. It was a castle after all.
I left the property after an exhausting eight hours with the task of editing and processing the hundreds of images down to about thirty photos.
A second visit a week later provided much better weather and, since I knew the layout, I was able to capture some additional images to complement the first. More images, along with the interactive floor plan, can be viewed on the Open2view UK website.