Gray weather doesn’t tend to put me off, and often see it as a perfect opportunity to get brooding, atmospheric and textured shots that don’t present themselves as readily in bright daylight. I sometimes appreciate a grey sky as the subject matter presents another side of its character, and generally reach for my black and white film.
A visit to Castle Howard in Yorkshire a few years ago is a perfect example of this. I was visiting friends in York, and we decided to do a day trip to the estate. The weather overcast and rainy. I was in heaven.
Most of it was built between 1699 and 1712 for the 3rd Earl of Carlisle, to a design by Sir John Vanbrugh. Castle Howard has been the home of part of the Howard family for more than 300 years, and is the setting for TV and film adaptation of Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited.
The setting lends itself to either colour or black and white. However, with the weather the way it was, I couldn’t resist taking photos in black & white. After a tour of the house itself, we walked part of the grounds before the rain started in earnest.
One of my favourite shots is of a bridge over a stream cutting through the grounds. The sky was steadily getting darker, and more threatening. The viewer can almost smell the rain coming.
To get a nice contrast in the image, I used Ilford Pan-F 50 film, which is a nice slow film. This is a stalwart of mine, and often find it gives me the contrast and texture I’m after. I must admit, it certainly lent itself to Castle Howard.
I managed to capture the shot just before the rain started, and feel fortunate. My friends and I just managed to get back to the House before the rain started to really pour.
Capturing atmospheric shots can be very rewarding, particularly when you capture the moment well.