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Top Five Tips for Photographing the Mount

02 September 2019

Expert photographer and local man, Mike Newman, offers an insight into how to nail that perfect shot.

One of the country’s most iconic images, St Michael’s Mount commands fairy-tale awe. A truly magnificent subject for any budding or seasoned photographer, it is as beautiful on a balmy summer’s day when sunshine trickles down its stony façade as in a brewing winter storm, waves swelling and heaving in the background.  

So how best to go about capturing a sense of our mighty St Michael’s Mount? Sharing some of his top tips from over 20 years’ experience, expert photographer and local man, Mike Newman, offers an insight into how to nail that perfect shot.

Mike Newman’s Top Five Tips for Photographing St Michael’s Mount:

1. Lighting. At midday the sun is high in the sky and the light can make everything look flat. If you shoot when the light is coming from one particular side of the Mount, shadows are created which reveal the true shapes of the island and buildings. Shooting in the 'Golden Hour' at the beginning and end of the day will also add eye-catching sunrise/sunset colours to your photograph. 

2. Composition. Think about having something in the foreground to add interest – a boat or a person, perhaps.  These will add a sense of scale to your picture. While you're looking, see what's happening in the background as well; is it worth adding that cheeky white cloud floating in a blue sky to your shot?

3. Use a Tripod. You'll get better detail once you lose the chance of camera shake. Being able to use a smaller aperture will increase the sharpness and depth of field of your shot. The ability to have the shutter open for longer will allow you to blur the movement of people across the causeway or turn the sea in to a milky haze. 

4. Secret Detail. The mount has a mass of hidden details - the Giant's Heart or Queen Victoria's footstep to name but two. Zooming in on this fine detail (with just enough background to let you know it's on the Mount) will create a new and intriguing image. Find something most people would miss and make it the feature of your shot.

5. Get Creative. Try to find your own viewpoint rather than the usual ones everyone takes.  The Mount is so dramatic, the usual ones are always good of course, but having taken those shots, why not move on to find a new perspective, a different angle of that same view? Creating something different can be as simple as shooting from ground level rather than eye level, or as complex as shooting the Milky Way at midnight. What will you do?

With one more wink to the camera, Mike shares a final piece of advice: “remember, the best piece of photographic equipment is your eye!”.

Whatever time of year you’re visiting Cornwall, embrace your surroundings and adopt your own individual slant for a unique capture to be proud. For the perfect close-up, you can visit St Michael’s Mount most of the year during select opening hours; at high tide during spring, summer and autumn, boats regularly ferry to and from the Mount’s ancient harbour and at low tide you can enjoy a magical walk to our island castle across the causeway!

If you would like to see some of Mike’s work, he regularly posts jaw-dropping shots on his Instagram and many of his prints are available to buy online. Go on a journey through the lens and fall in love with Cornwall all over again.