Melancholy Editorial Shoot at Hardwick Hall

The images shown on Hardwick Hall’s website are designed to attract visitors to come to the Hall and see its grounds and eat the food there and enjoy the beautiful grounds. the client from my point of view has images for every aspect of its hall…every aspect accept images of the hall associated to their story of the season Arbella the ‘lost queen’.  as you can see there are images for the ‘new fairies in the garden’ article of the website. there are images for ‘spring arrives in the garden’ and also more bout spring below on another hyperlink. there is only  story and the word ‘Arbella’ on a black background for this section called ‘Hardwick Hall a Palace or a prison?’ which is about the history of the house and needs to be shown really. i shot images to show Hardwick Hall as not necessarily the most cheerful and happy building it is portrayed as on the website but as what Arbella saw it as and had to live in. there are various audiences that are already attracted to going to Hardwick hall, school trips, senior citizen buses, families on a day out and people generally interested in the history of the building such as myself and many others who go into the house and hear about the stories. in order for these audiences to come in and see the grounds they need to also be drawn in like the other audiences are with photography. i have captured images that would go with the tragic story go “The Lost queen’ very well and that is where the website could use my images and my client would have the images i have taken here.

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We were given a choice of three client briefs. i decided to go for an editorial style shoot and base it around the word melancholy. whilst capturing the images i had to take into account that this shoot had to attract vistors to Hardwick Hall. the brief was to have as a final result have a minimum of two final images, edited and ready for the client, i like working in threes so i chose to have 3 final images. one image i decided to base more around the darker side of depression that the word melancholy can relate to, another image to show the frigidness of prison cells and how Lady Arbella Stuart was imprisoned in her own home at Hardwick Hall and forbidden marriage to her true love and finally and image to show the feeling of hiding how Arbella was hidden away from the world whilst longing for her husband in the Tower of London.

the story of Arbella inspired this shoot as it is a story of longing for a forbidden love. the story of Arbella in brief is that she had fallen for Sir William Seymour and married him in secret against her king James’ wishes. the two plotted to flee for France in 1610 and Willam made it with Arbella headed for him, but unfortunately Arbella was captured on her way to France and bought back to England to be inprisoned with no chance of release in the Tower of London. Heartbroken Arbella refused food and water and died in 1615 at the age of 40.

i planned this shoot by chosing a place to visit, Harwick Hall fitted the brief as a built and man made building, i knew i could take editorial style shots there and also it has a captivateing story for this season making the house and ground seemingly different having known what was happening there nearly 400 years ago.

Hardwick Xaff PDF_Page_1  Hardwick Xaff PDF_Page_3  Hardwick Xaff PDF_Page_5pdf3pdf 2

out of all the images i took throughout the day on 3 different cameras here are a wide selection of shots i took (not all of the image i took are here). i narrowed it down to 3 by looking at the images afterwards and choosing which were either correctly exposed or a good composition i also looked for what i thought were the best ideas i had when taking the images and i came to the conclusion that the images below are the ones i would select. this is because they are the images i would most likely see connected to the arbella theme on the website for Hardwick hall.


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i planned to take this shot precisely by waiting for nearly a half hour for a bird to hop into the centre of the sot and look out of frame this created an eerie feel to the image. i waited for this bird because it creates an idea in your head instantly, the bird being a crow is a symbol of death and this adds to the idea of depression. i also used the lighting of this photo to create the depressive mood portrayed visually here by lowering my aperture as this creates a lower mood and a darker image. i achieved this by setting my camera to manually have an aperture of f/6 an ISO 200 and shutter speed of 1/500th this created a brighter image but with the correct shadowing and detail and information i needed in order to create the image above, which is what i had in mind whilst shooting. when shooting on location you have to know how to shoot the image on camera in order to be able to create more interesting moods and atmospheres post location, as the image and the opportunity has already gone when you get to the post capturing stage.


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this image has a foreboding feel to it as straight lines and  perspective were used in the composition i had in mind whilst taking it. i wanted to create a harsh feel of imprisonment whilst retaining the beauty of the building. waiting for the light to hit the building at the perfect moment as light was changing frequently so were the settings on my camera. i kept ISO at 200 and bought my aperture up for this particular shot to f/10 and a shutter speed of 1/400 was used. i used the light meter on the camera to help me as the light was changing so much. this shot has had minimal post editing to enhance the drama. leading lines have been used by myself as i wanted to create an idea of all lines leading to this place of such great imprisonment like their is almost no escape.


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much like Arbella, Hardwick Hall even though loved by many as Arbella was loved by her husband William Seymour, has been hidden away behind trees. just like Arbella was hidden in Hardwick Hall initially and then in the Tower of London, almost forgotten. Hardwick Hall is a hidden gem with history and secrets to reveal. i took this shot as just a pretty image with pleasing aesthetics but it turned out post shoot to be so much more. i shot with the ISO setting at 200, aperture at f/4 and a shutter speed of 1/1000th. this image was a gem much like Hardwick hall i didn’t expect to like it as much as i did, until i looked closer at it and paid more attention to it.


the image here, taken by NCJMEDIA SYNDICATION, reminds me of the imprisoned image and the depression image i took as they both have elements such as darkness and the eerie, old, rundown feel to them but the image is also very well executed and symmetrical. as you can see when they are shown together they show the straight on castle like feeling that the house has and that my own image imprisonment has from Hardwick Hall. the battlements made me think of my own images straight away as it is of a similar structure and old castle style

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as you can see below both images you could simply say are of trees and a house or building but there are clear differences in each image that create different feelings. or starters there is colour and black and white photography and this creates two instantly different looking images, the images in black and white seem to be more calm almost due to post shoot manipulation and whiter levels in black and white to create a lost and vulnerable feeling whereas using colour you don’t notice the whole image as just it is but you see the colours first and then you observe what the colour is showing us, we see black and white image and then the house and trees have an equal colour quality whereas in colour images the green trees pop out more than the architecture almost and you have to avert your eyes from the trees for a minute to appreciate the architectural structure being shown here. the title of my back and white image was hidden which i believe t be appropriate for the colour image , which was taken by Hiroyuki Oki, as the architecture is almost hidden in the colour of the green trees.

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