Edinburgh Castle

Tips for taking photos of and from Edinburgh Castle

A visit to Edinburgh Castle and Edinburgh is probably a once in a lifetime opportunity which most of us want to immortalise. Here are some tips on capturing the Castle on camera. You can buy tickets for Edinburgh Castle online (for fast track entry).

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How to take a photo of the One o'clock Gun

Having tried this twice in Edinburgh Castle I can give you some tips on how to get this right:

  • Location in the Castle - At around 12:30 go find a suitable spot for taking photos. One of the best I found is near St. Margaret's Chapel in the Castle's Upper Ward looking down on the Dog's Cemetery. Wait there until 1pm or you might lose your spot. As it gets nearer to 1pm, the Middle Ward in Edinburgh Castle gets progressively busier as visitors gather for the daily gun fire.
  • Steady camera - The gun makes a very loud and startling noise so brace yourself as it might result in camera shake. To avoid a blurred image use a tripod or rest your camera onto a steady object. A clear and sharp photo of the One o'Clock Gun firing from Edinburgh Castle is not something most tourists can pride themselves with so getting it right is a special bonus for you.
  • Exact time - Set your watch to the second and ask someone to give you the exact time and count down the last 30 seconds. Tam the Gun has fired the gun for 27 years at 1pm sharp, not a second later.
  • One shot - You only get one chance to get the photo so practice 2-3 shots in advance. By the time you try to take it again the smoke will have lifted.

Best places to take photos of Edinburgh Castle

Edinburgh Castle is as difficult to photograph as it is impressive. The time of the day must be perfect or you might have to find an alternative place where to photograph it from.

Taking photos of Edinburgh Castle from Princes Street Gardens

At noon the sun is high above the castle and taking photos from this position makes either the skies appear washed out or the Castle turn out dark or both. If you are really lucky you can even get a flare in your picture. A workaround is to use trees to block out the sun or take photos very early in the morning or late in the afternoon or evening.

The morning and evening light gives the stonework on Edinburgh Castle a touch of magic. In July, the ideal time in the morning for taking pictures of Edinburgh Castle is between 7 and 10am and the ideal time in the afternoon is between 6 and 8pm.

Taking photos of Edinburgh Castle from Scott Monument

Scott Monument is another great vantage point from where to photograph the Castle because it has the unique advantage of height. Avoid taking photos at high noon as the Castle might turn out far too bright and lacking in detail.

Scott Monument gives you the chance, however, to take a unique photograph of the One o'Clock Gun being fired from the Castle, although this works best in the autumn or winter when the sun is lower.

Taking photos of Edinburgh Castle from Calton Hill

A strong contender as the best place to take photos from is Calton Hill. Again, avoid taking photos between 11am and 6pm in the summer when the light is far too bright and the sun is between you and Edinburgh Castle. Some of the best photos taken from Calton Hill are those taken at sunrise, early morning, late in the afternoon or at dusk.

Calton Hill is also the best location for taking night photos of the superbly floodlit Edinburgh Castle whether it is on unique occasions such as Hogmanay or the Fireworks Concert or on regular evenings.

Calton Hill has an added benefit. It allows you to take photos of the Castle in combination with the Balmoral Hotel, Scott Monument and Princes Street, together forming the distinctive Edinburgh panorama known around the world.

Taking photos of Edinburgh Castle from Greyfriars Cemetery

Greyfriars Cemetery and Heriott School give you an unusual view of the Castle. In August, the gate to Heriott School is open and you can take a photo of the south side of the Castle.

In the winter, when the trees are leafless you can take a photo of the Castle from Greyfriars itself, Edinburgh's most famous graveyard. Taking photos of Edinburgh Castle from this location is rare because most tourists don't know of its existence.

Taking pictures from Salisbury Crags

A popular location for taking wonderful pictures of Edinburgh Castle are the distinctive Salisbury Crags. Not only you get a slightly different view of the Castle but you also have the advantage of being able to take good pictures throughout the day -- except between 2 and 7 pm during the summer.

The best pictures are without a doubt those taken very early in the morning or at dusk. Don't spend all your evenings in pubs while in Edinburgh, take a brisk walk up Salisbury Crags and watch the sun set behind the Castle.

Other places for taking photos of the Castle

For a striking effect, take photos of Edinburgh Castle rising from behind the old buildings of the Grassmarket. For unusual views of the Castle go to the Meadows or to the National Gallery of Modern Art on Belford Road.

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