Photography In York
I'm lucky to live very close to York, Only 7 miles out of the city centre in a small village called Strensall. I did use to live in the city centre which made it even more easy to photograph where I would often just go into the city when I had some spare time.
Photography in York can be quite difficult at times, mainly because its tourist central in North Yorkshire, everyone wants to visit the magnificent York Minster, who can blame them. I don't mind people in the shots I make but say when it comes to photographing the Shambles or Stonegate and there is a huge herd of people in the shot a lot of detail is lost. This is one reason I like to shoot in low light or dusk. Many people have gone home by this time in the summer months (forget winter it's chockablock) and I much prefer the light at this time. The ambiance is so much nicer. Street lighting gives a wonderful atmosphere, couple that with cobbled streets and old style gas lanterns and you can create a very nice Dickensian feeling to an image.
With two miles of remaining masonry York has the longest town walls in England. Offering excellent elevated views of the city where one can explore different angles for more creativity.
You have to bear in mind that in bad weather such as snow and ice the walls are closed for safety reasons, they are also closed at dusk.
As the path is quite narrow in places using tripods can be tricky. With so many tourists walking the walls each day one needs to be mindful and respectful of others.
This particular shot is my favorite of all the locations of the city walls as it encompasses all the is York. The wall gives a nice leading line towards the main focus of attention "The Minster". I suggest a long focal length for this location and getting well back to make the best of it. Time wise its best for this location towards late afternoon to sunset where the sun will be to your left shoulder and optimal for polarised filters.
March and April is a great time to explore the ramparts of which the walls are built upon. This time of year they are well known for the magnificent display of daffodils. It can be a good idea to check the position of the sun beforehand as if the day is of bright sunshine you may want to find the best light for a particular shot. I use apps on my phone such as PhotoPills or the photographer's ephemeris to find out where the sun will be at any particular time of the day.
The bridges of York are also a great subject for a composition. Again low light dusk and early morning are the times I prefer. The four main bridges of York are Lendal, Ouse, Skeldergate and the Millennium Bridge. It is also worthwhile taking time to shoot the old-style street lanterns, as in Spring and Summer they are adorned with stunning flower displays. Shooting these at night is also interesting as the light they produce is warm and not one of a daylight colour balance. Traffic also crossing the bridges is a great way to get some added interest using long exposures to make trailing lights.
It's so tempting to get up close to get a shot but then one has to point the camera up to get a shot. I don't personally like to do this because you end up with converging verticals. Unless you want to be creative that is but then you would be zooming in for tighter shots for more abstract kind of image.
If there is one thing everyone wants to photograph in the city of York it is the Minster. There are literally hundreds of places to photograph the cathedral from and I do have my favorites some of which hardly anyone knows to go. Precentors Court is my favorite place. It is a very old street lined with a row of houses with a lovely cobbled pavement lit by old fashioned Victorian style gas lamps. The only thing spoiling the mood here is the double yellow lines. The clone tool in Photoshop can help fix that problem. Shoot in monochrome for a whole different feel and your kind of taken back in time.
Another good spot to get a good composition is on Duncombe Place. I have to admit I was really lucky one evening to get this image with no vehicles in the frame. Due to a TV crew shooting a scene all cars & taxis were moved on. Still, it makes a cracking shot with or without. Standing in the middle of the road to one has to be careful of the traffic. It's not very busy but you do get a few odd looks from motorists.
There is another cool thing you can do here too. That's to get low down with the camera almost on the floor and use the white lines as a foreground subject and a leading line for composition. Again just watch for cars and cyclists too.
York Railway Station
Opened on 25 June 1877 York railway station was the largest in Europe t the time. Featuring Victorian architecture the curved roof is quite a unique feature. It lends itself to some sublime pictures with long sweeping lines. Couple this with Black & White photography working with light, shadow & textures some beautiful compositions can easily be made.
Get On Top
If you are a resident of York and have a York card this will entitle you to gain access to the Minster free of charge or it is £9 for an adult ticket with a further charge to go up the tower. Still its worth the extra payment as a one-off chance to get some shots that are that bit more interesting.
Tripods are allowed to be used in the Minster at this time but for this shot, I would only take it handholding. This area is quite narrow with no room for passing. Security does not want you holding up other people that are trying to get up or back down, so be relatively quick to make a few shots. Try bracketing your exposures here to make sure that you get a good exposure.
Outlook over York
Once at the top of the tower you have 360-degree views. With cut-outs in the walls, one can simply position the camera and shoot away. You are not timed up here from what I have experienced so take your time for as many different compositions as you can.
One of the most attractive streets in York and another steeped in history. It is believed that the street may have got its name due to the vast quantity of stone brought in from the quarries of nearby Tadcaster for the building of York Minster.
With so many shop windows giving off warm incandescent light creating interesting shadows on the pavement there are some nice images to be had here.
It can be tricky to get a clean shot here as it can be quite busy at any time of the day. At night or low light is the best time. Not only do I prefer the light for the atmosphere, I like it because I can use a long exposure and reduce/eliminate people within the shot because the sensor will not record moving objects. You may still get ghosting from the moving subjects but this kind of adds an eerie supernatural essence to the image.
Sunset on The Ouse
There's no better place to watch the sun go down in York than from Lendal bridge. Everyone stops here to watch the last beams of the day's sunlight dip down behind the trees that line the banks of the river Ouse. If your lucky to have no wind on the river then the reflections add a touch of magic to the image. With the last beams of light hitting the trees on the east bank they glow in its warmth.
I used a tripod for this shot but I caused no obstruction to passersby. A neat little trick here is to use the bridge handrail as one of the lags. Use two of the legs on the floor and the other resting straight out in front resting on the bridges rail/wall. This keeps you tucked in away from pedestrians.