Before the Storm (or Autumn at Scotney)

IMG_5564With forecasters warning of a storm on the way – strong winds, heavy rain – and a carpet of leaves already on the ground, I decided to head out in search of autumn before it merged into winter.  Scotney Castle seemed the obvious choice, not least because it is one of my favourite places to head with the camera.  I was not alone in choosing Scotney (well, not at first – but more on that later…) and most visitors were either other photographers or families out for a morning stroll.

I arrived shortly after opening time and headed straight downhill to the Old Castle.  It was a beautiful morning and the blue skies were reflected, in a slightly ripply way, in the moat surrounding the castle.

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Autumn was definitely making its presence known and the vibrant red leaves of a tree near the boathouse immediately drew the eye – and the camera lens! 

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Having completed one circuit of the 14th century castle, taking many of the classic Scotney shots as I walked, I decided to change to a tele-macro lens and look for something a little different.

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There are plenty of places to sit and reflect, or read, or simply watch the world go by at Scotney and the simple wooden benches tend to make an appearance in many of my photos.  There are also lots of things to peek through – arches, doorways, windows; some make interesting photos in and of themselves and others are great for framing an image.  Photo 7 above was taken during a rain shower.  Wanting to protect my camera, and caught rather unawares, I ducked under an archway whilst I waited for the return of blue skies.  I was joined there by another photographer and, whilst we chatted, I took some shots of the brickwork, trying to be creative with the metering (I do listen in class!) to achieve the best results.

For close-up work I switched to manual focus, using it consistently for the first time.  I found many signs that autumn was in full swing, but also a lot of green and even the odd hardy flower still in bloom.

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I tend to become rather preoccupied when I am taking photos, particularly if I am trying out a new technique, but eventually two things dawned on me: the wind had picked up, causing the trees to dance in rather an alarming fashion, and I was alone.  Literally.  Heading swiftly to the exit, I discovered that the path to the Old Castle had been closed, I imagine for safety reasons, and many of the more sensible people had long since gone home.  Taking their lead, and with a full memory card, I did the same.

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