We visit Blenheim Palace a few times a year. For events like the Christmas displays, the jousting weekends, car shows or just to pop and have some time in the adventure playground. For N it’s also the chance to get his bike or scooter out for a ride along from the pleasure gardens to the palace and a trip back on the train. Having an annual pass makes it easier to do this too, although the rain over the last few months has meant we’ve not been for a while. N’s also started saying he doesn’t want to go – mostly because I drag him ‘for a quick look round this display or that’.
But recently I visited on my own for a different reason. For a photography meet up and walk in the Blenheim gardens. Stately homes quite often have photography days taking place, but I’ve never managed to get on one. But this was a meet up of my local AYWMC online group, a chance to think photography for a few hours.
I’m a big advocate of Emma Davies’ free A Year with my Camera course – it’s great for getting off auto, but also learning that not every pro uses their manual settings all of the time. There’s a facebook group, and then break off local groups who arrange meet ups. Unfortunately our local one this time was only 3 of us, but it worked really well and we could get to know each other. I already knew Mary, and it was nice to meet Tamara (the admin of the group) who lives near me.
We were lucky because it was a beautiful sunny day. Not always great for photography in the middle of the day, but we managed pretty well considering, and were able to really explore quite a bit of the Blenheim estate. When I usually visit, we don’t really walk far into the grounds. So it was lovely to check out some areas I’ve only previously seen in the dark for the Christmas displays.
The rose garden is definitely somewhere to revisit in June once the roses are out, and the cascades were beautiful to watch. A great chance to practice different shutter speeds for water captures.
We did manage to find some flowers to photograph – bluebells this year are taking their time to emerge and looking fairly bedraggled, but it was lovely to spot some cowslips.
A brief lunch on the water terrace – it was lovely to sit outside to eat for the first time this year, although you do have to be careful where you sit with the wind and water fountain spray. Then it was back to walk round to the Harry Potter tree alongside the lake.
What I love about walking around familiar places with different people is how we all have different routes and know about different things. I’ve been visiting Blenheim since I was a girl, but even with Harry Potter mania, I didn’t know there was a tree at Blenheim which features in the films. And we’ve never walked round by the lakes.
It was also nice to arrive earlier than normal. Opening for the palace and pleasure gardens is at 10am, but the shop and grounds open from 9.30. By the time I’d arrived and got my pass sorted, we were walking around the ground by 10 and the place was mostly empty. A real treat especially on a sunny spring day. I’d definitely recommend arriving early if you want the best photography opportunities without all the visitors in the way.
I really enjoyed seeing Blenheim Palace through a photographer’s eyes, having the chance to talk photography with other enthusiasts. If you’ve never done a photo walk before I’d definitely recommend it. I find my non-blogging friends find it strange (and probably annoying) how many photos I take on days out, but on a photo walk that’s the whole purpose. It’s also a chance to troubleshoot, ask questions and share learnings with others. As well as challenging yourself to try different things. I even remembered my lensball for the first time on a day out, so I must remember to take it out more frequently to try other views.
You can buy some of the photography equipment we used (and the A Year with my Camera workbook) through my affiliate link.
Have you ever been on a photo walk? What type of photos do you enjoy taking or struggle with?
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