At the end of our two-week hiking adventure in Ireland, we added a stop in Edinburgh for a family visit. Ancient and modern at the same time, Scotland’s capital offers a wide range of experiences for the traveler, and a wide array of subjects for the travel photographer. From architecture to museums, castles to palaces, glorious views and creative contemporary cuisine, this city has become a world-class destination. Here is a brief photo essay capturing some of our experiences there.
The main attraction, dominating the city from its high central vantage point, is the ancient Edinburgh Castle. It’s an easy walk from the center of town up the hill to tour the castle. On the way up, a variety of interesting views of the castle unfold. Try different lenses and compositions to take advantage of the many moods of this place.
Edinburgh Castle towers above the city center and offers a variety of different perspectives for the photographer. Here I’ve shot from halfway up the hill using a telephoto lens and polarizing filter to isolate this one portion of the edifice and to enhance the stonework and the sky. Buy this photo
Edinburgh’s Royal Mile stretches from the Castle down to the Palace at Holyrood House. It’s easy to see this street as a shopping mall jammed with tourists, but it would be a shame to overlook the stately old architecture and the little closes (alleyways) off the main street.
To make this image along the Royal Mile, I chose an unusual perspective and used a medium telephoto lens to align the different colors, textures, and angles of the statue with the cathedral. Buy this photo
Edinburgh is changing. During several visits over the decades, I’ve heard many a bagpiper playing in the center of the city, but this is the first time I’ve met a female piper. She was happy to pose for a portrait. Buy this photo
Brightly painted façades lend a splash of color to the old stone architecture in this lovely neighborhood. Buy this photo
Scottish food has also evolved a great deal in recent years, with several restaurants serving contemporary takes on traditional Scottish dishes. Nowhere is the ambiance nicer than at the Witchery by the Castle, along the Royal Mile.
To capture the lovely interior of the Witchery, I used a fast normal lens and a high ISO setting. This scene was lit entirely by candlelight and a few sconce lights in the ceiling. Buy this photo
Revisiting Edinburgh Castle on our second day, I wanted to shoot it from a different perspective at a different time of day. During post-processing I decided that a black-and-white rendering of the image would highlight the austere tone of the castle. Buy this photo
Edinburgh has a proud literary tradition, from Burns to Scott to Stevenson. The city’s literature museum, while small, is worth a visit.
I couldn’t resist capturing this display sign in the Writers’ Museum highlighting the Stevenson quote that graces the name of this website. For more on the importance of this quote to the development of my passion for travel and photography, please see this page: About To Travel Hopefully.
At the other end of the Royal Mile from the Castle lies the Palace of Holyroodhouse. This is the Queen’s official residence when she’s in Scotland, and its tour is first-rate. While photography is not allowed inside the lovely palace, it is okay to photograph the stately and much older abbey adjacent to the palace.
Again here, I tried to seek out an unusual perspective in this shot of the abbey at Holyroodhouse. I shot upward with a wide-angle lens, using spot metering to expose for the stonework and a small aperture to provide broader depth-of-field. Buy this photo
I made this portrait of our daughter with two of her friends from university by stepping back and framing them using a medium portrait lens. I chose a medium aperture to ensure sharp focus on the subjects while also keeping the façade of the abbey reasonably sharp. Buy this photo
Behind Holyroodhouse is a hill towering above the city. A short but fairly strenuous hike leads to Arthur’s Seat at the summit. From the summit there are glorious views over the whole of the Edinburgh area. This image of the Palace at Holyroodhouse was shot from partway up the hill.
A view of Holyroodhouse from partway up the hike to Arthur’s Seat. A polarizer helped bring out the drama in the sky and the saturated green of the lawns. Buy this photo
On our final evening in Edinburgh, we dined on exquisite contemporary Scottish cuisine at the Tower Restaurant. Sitting atop the Scottish National Museum, this spot has marvelous views over the city to the castle. The view shown in this image was just as marvelous.
To photograph the beautifully plated trio of smoked Scottish salmon accompanied by a glass of old single malt whisky, I shot from above using a touch of off-camera flash to balance the ambient light of the restaurant. I used a diffuser on the flash and bounced the flash off the wall to soften its light. To learn more about food photography, check out this post: Post on Food Photography Buy this photo
Scottish traditional music is alive and well and performed almost every night at Sandy Bell’s Pub. This portrait was made using my favorite portrait lens set to a wide aperture, with a high ISO setting on the camera. The shallow depth of field throws the whistle player into soft focus, so the emphasis in the image is placed on the fiddler. Buy this photo
Have you visited Edinburgh? What are your favorite spots there? What experiences should a photographer be sure to seek out? Please leave your comments here.