I was inspired to visit Castlerigg Stone Circle after seeing plenty of beautiful photos taken by friends and strangers alike. This 3000 year-old site of irregular megaliths is fairly easy to reach. Visitors can walk a couple of hundred yards from a layby, so it has become popular. The views surrounding the stones are typical Lakeland beauty with grassy peaks and plunging valleys. As the sun passes over during the day the shadows change and alter the view in interesting ways.
Photography Techniques for Crowded Places
Clearly Castlerigg Stone Circle would be a great place for photos if only it wasn’t so crowded. There are two ways to fix this. The first option is to go at sunrise, and this is what some dedicated photographers do. There will be a good chance of some pretty dawn light as well.
The second option is to put a camera on a tripod and take several photos from the same point. Afterwards in editing, there are apps which will layer these images and delete the people by using selected areas from each image. It’s called Image Stack Mode in Photoshop. I don’t have the patience for this, but I really ought to try it one day. For popular travel photography locations, it’s a useful technique.
The third option is to use the people in a composition. If I’d had longer, I would have stalked the punters and perhaps used them as silhouettes amongst the stones, shooting from low down.
Phone Photography at Castlerigg Stone Circle
When I visited Castlerigg Stone Circle recently I had the additional problem that both my cameras were away for repair, and I only had my phone. I do love a zoomy photo composition but as I’ve written about before, smartphone cameras are wide angle by nature. I was out of my comfort zone.
Not only was I stuck with just a phone, but my husband and I were en route elsewhere and had only fifteen minutes to visit the site. We couldn’t wait around for people to move off. The light wasn’t very interesting with flat grey cloud. It would have been good for portraits but that wasn’t the plan.
Using the bulk of the stones in the foreground of the shot works ok and the mottled lichen is pretty. I also took a few shots of my husband taking pictures, in a storytelling style. I think I could do these shots better if he would just stand where I wanted him to!
All the photos in this blog post are my phone pics. I also shot some wide photos of the circle which don’t look great in wide angle and with all the people, but they do demonstrate what the place is like on a Sunday in July.
Visitor information for Castlerigg Stone Circle
The site is cared for by English Heritage and there is no entrance fee or staffed gate. Drive down fairly narrow country lanes to the layby at Castle Lane, Underskiddaw, Keswick, Cumbria, CA12 4RN grid reference 54.603718, -3.098069, just a few hundred yards west of Keswick climbing wall. The Lake District is now a World Heritage Site.
Check out the English Heritage online shop for gifts for fans of history (affiliate).
Read my blog post about taking photos at another ancient stone circle – Avebury.
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