On a cloudy, windy morning in Edinburgh — they have a lot of those — I met up with James Christie of Edinburgh Photography Tours to walk the town, take in a bit of history and learn camera tips from a seasoned pro. See. Learn. Do. The best kind of travel experience!
Anyone who has travelled with me can tell you how annoying I am with the camera. Taking like 10 pics of one thing. That’s because I honestly don’t know how to properly photograph a subject, Taking all those shots ensures that I can get one good one out of it. The time all of this takes to get one good one is exhausting (snapping, deleting, editing, boo). So learning how to take photos properly with a pro, while touring a beautiful historic city was a no-brainer. After James gave our small group (three of us in all) a brief tutorial, we were off! At each destination, he would tell us its historical significance and show us how to capture the best shot of it. And wouldn’t let us move on until he was happy with our results!
At the National Monument, while looking for the perfect spot to capture the imposing edifice, we learned why it was modelled after Greece’s Parthenon and why it was ultimately left unfinished (money, of course). As James said, “It’s eight by two by none by two and it’s nicknamed Scotland’s Disgrace.” At Hollyrood Palace, while we tried to find the perfect aperture to shoot Queen Mary’s turreted bath house, James spread the rumour that Mary used this spot to bathe in sweet white wine. And in Grassmarket, a spot that houses some of the oldest pubs in the city, James shared the tale of “half-hangit” Maggie Dickson — in front of the pub of the same name. Back in the day, Grassmarket is where public executions happened and Maggie was one of its victims, kind of. Hanged in 1724 for murdering her illegitimate baby after birth, she awoke on a cart and since her punishment had been carried out, she could not be executed a second time.
That’s just a taste of the tales we heard on our five hour walking tour. As James regaled us with stories, he constantly gave us tips on where to take the shot, what settings to try for different lighting situations and how to hold a camera properly. At the end of the day, I left feeling more confident with my camera than ever. As James liked to put it, “take the photo taking out of the Japanese company’s control and put it in yours.” And I’m trying! Here are a few snaps from the tour and a few extras taken immediately after…
Flora and fauna
Immediately after the tour, I found myself walking through Princes Street Gardens and along the Royal Mile figuring out my settings and snapping pics of birds and blooms. The pigeon and owl shots turned out great for me. I never get that type of depth. I also didn’t edit any of them except a bit of cropping. Another first!
If you find yourself in Edinburgh and love taking photos, send James a note and do this experience. He will share his love of the city with you, while imparting his vast knowledge. One thing is for sure, James will definitely challenge you to see the world differently through your lens.