Bodiam Castle is possibly one of the most photogenic castles in the UK. With it’s simple square shape, four turrets, draw bridge and moat on all sides, it’s reminiscent of the castles all kids attempt to make on the beach. It’s probably this simplicity that makes this castle so charming and a wonderful photography subject. Read on to find our more about this castle, how to photograph it and when to visit.
Photographing the castle and wildlife
The best time to shoot the castle is during the golden hours, i.e. within an hour or two of sunrise or sunset. The shot above was taken just as the golden hours was beginning at sunset, so the suns rays gave the castle a lovely warm feel. This shot is also a long exposure that captured the cloud movement. Sunrise is probably the best time to photograph the castle, particularly if you get a misty morning as it can give rise to some wonderfully eerie photos, though I’ve seen some excellent shots of this castle at sunset too.
As the moat goes all the way round the castle, you are spoilt for choice on shooting angles, but the two best points are from the south east corner (see above photo) as you get water all the way round with no restrictions on visibility, and directly from the north looking down the bridge. For a nice sharp shot of the castle, set the aperture first to ensure you get good depth of field, then set your ISO and shutter speed as required. If you have a tripod, this will give you extra flexibility and will allow you to set longer shutter speeds and hence lower ISO.
There are also a large number of ducks at Bodiam Castle which just love being photographed! On the south side there is a mound of grass about 1m high that juts out into the moat which the ducks love to sit on in the afternoon sun. People also feed the ducks here as it’s the first side of the castle that people arrive at. When the sun is setting and illuminating the south wall, get down low at grass level to get some great shots of the ducks with the castle behind providing some lovely soft back light. This mound is also a great place to capture the ducks in flight as they use it as a launch and landing pad though you will have to be quick as the flights tend to be rather short (more of a fump into the water!).
Put your camera in shutter priority mode and set a fast shutter speed to ensure you get a nice sharp shot. Then set ISO as required and let your camera do the rest. You might need to go high on the ISO to ensure your camera can actually take the shot, plus it’s probably a good idea to use servo mode for focussing and multi burst mode.
Where is it?
Bodiam Castle is located in south east England, about 30 minutes north of Hastings. Here it is in Google Maps. Since the castle is quite small, you are only likely to spend a few hours there so I recommend also visiting the seaside town of Hastings and having a ride on the very steep funicular lift. It’s a hairy but safe, 45 degree lift that gives some great views of Hastings and the coastline.
When to visit?
You can visit Bodiam Castle all year round and it’s owned by the National Trust, so it’s free to park and enter if you are a National Trust member. For everyone else, as at the time of writing, it’s £6.70 per adult, £3.70 for a child and £18.50 for a family ticket to enter the castle. You only pay to enter the castle itself, so if you just want to walk around it will cost you no more than the £2 parking ticket, allowing you to stay for as long as you like. Make sure you get there early, particularly in peak season, because the car park is rather small and they operate a one in, one out policy once it’s full. There’s no real alternatives for car parking nearby so you have been warned!
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