Exploring Blackness Castle

This weekend I made the trip up to Edinburgh to visit my brother and his wife, who moved up to Scotland a few years ago. They live about 20 minutes outside the city, and we spent a lovely chilled weekend catching up, playing games and eating Scotland’s finest cuisine (butteries and haggis).

On Sunday we visited Blackness Castle, which sits on a peninsula jutting into the Firth of Forth, with a great view of the Forth Bridge. It was built as a fortress in the 15th century, and over the years had been added to and continuously used as a defense point, right up until World War 1.

It’s roughly boat-shaped, and the two towers inside are still standing, but now reduced to bare stones and mortar. The courtyard was levelled with sand and gravel when in use, but now has been worn down to expose the bedrock of the cliffs on which the castle sits.

I decided a trip to a castle was a great excuse to try out a few pieces of kit that hadn’t had much of an outing yet – my Peak Design 5L sling and my Fujifilm XC 50-230mm zoom lens. The bag performed fantastically, fitting in my camera body with the Samyang 12mm attached, the zoom lens separately, and just enough space for the small XC 15-45mm lens too. I also managed to squeeze in a spare battery and my mini tripod, neither of which I used in the end, but the bag is a definite keeper!

The 12mm is a ridiculously wide lens, and produced some not-so-subtle results when paired with the Velvia film simulation. But hey, class and realism is not what we use a 12mm lens for, is it?

Zoom lenses are not something I’ve used extensively in my photography – mostly because when I was shooting film, the older zooms were always a bit crap. They were dark, soft around the edges (and the middle), and weighed an absolute ton. I always preferred primes, 50mm maximum.

However, this relatively cheap 50-230mm lens may have converted me. It’s small, light, and I’m really happy with the images I got from it this weekend. I was lucky to have good light, and a reasonably stable place to shoot from, but it was an absolute pleasure to use. I was attempting shots I’d never have dreamed of – the classic landscape-flattening only possible with a decent zoom, especially.

My favourite shot from this weekend was looking from the top of the castle over to Binns Tower. The light was perfect, and the grass was so green (thanks Velvia) – I’m really pleased that the photo turned out the way I’d envisaged it.

Binns Tower

One area that Velvia doesn’t do so well in, is incandescent light. The yellow cast ends up looking quite harsh, so for some of the indoor shots I took, converting them to black and white has produced nicer results. It also helps bring out the texture of the stones, which can get lost in a colour image. The flexibility of shooting in RAW and being able to edit afterwards is still a delight to me, to be honest! I’m glad of my years spent with film trying to perfect every shot though – it means fewer images to go through and exclude afterwards.

But soft, what light through yonder window etc etc

I didn’t end up using the 15-45mm lens at all, but don’t feel like I missed anything not using it. I’ve found it to be only ok, a bit soft – maybe one to upgrade in the future. I’ll definitely be taking the zoom lens on more outings though!

The rest of the photos from the trip are here.

2 thoughts on “Exploring Blackness Castle

  1. These are lovely photos. I especially like the monochrome ones.

    1. Charlotte Davis 19/11/2023 — 11:14 am

      Thanks so much!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

search previous next tag category expand menu location phone mail time cart zoom edit close