Trial shoot at the Castle: Panorama, entrance and night-lights

While we were compiling the programme booklet for the Cape Town Military Tattoo 2015 (see: Our beautiful programme booklets are delivered), I realised that I needed some additional photographs.

For instance, we were looking for a panoramic image that we could use for the backdrop to the running order in the centrefold, and for a portrait-shaped image of the Castle entrance that we could use for our cover or for the posters. I had also been told that the Castle was sometimes lit up at night, using bright colourful lighting; as I don’t drive past here at night, I’d never noticed. So it was the ideal opportunity to check it out and to see whether we could incorporate that in any of the shots.

I had a couple of ideas and some instructions from on-high, so I dragged hubby along to the Castle for my first trial shoot one evening. The extensive renovations (see: Our Majestic Old Castle is getting a Makeover) mean that certain sections are cordoned off and out-of-bounds – and that there is scaffolding sneaking into many of the shots. Apart from that, piles of building rubble, old roof tiles, and not-yet-painted walls do not make for attractive images. Thankfully, a certain intrepid officer was willing to guide us through the maze and make sure that I could get the shots I needed. We even borrowed a couple of friendly on-duty sentries to stand in position for us outside the main gate, and got another helper to close and open the various gates so we could take some trial shots in the hope of finding the right combination.


I love this shot of Mercury and can even get in the Kat balcony... but I lose the corner of Table Mountain

I love this shot of Mercury and can even get in the Kat balcony… but I lose a bit of Table Mountain

What I wanted was a panoramic shot from the top of the roof, on the far side of Mercury, looking towards Table Mountain and Devil’s Peak. I wanted it to include the following elements: the curve of the mountains, the ornate Kat balcony, the blue sky, and the figure of Mercury, while excluding the icky-looking roof-under-renovation and the not-yet-renovated balcony below us. I tried various shots from different angles and perspectives, but it proved surprisingly tricky. If all the elements were included, Mercury was insignificantly small, or part of Table Mountain was cut off, or it meant including too much of the roof and balcony.

This is probably my favourite version.

Castle Entrance

We had an idea for the poster and the front cover, but weren’t sure which configuration would work the best visually, so I volunteered to take some trial shots in the early evening.

We borrowed two sentries to stand roughly where we wanted the Castle Ceremonial Guard to stand. We tried having the spiked outer gate closed, having it open and the inner wooden gate closed, and having both gates open so you could look all the way through. The Kat balcony, which is a particularly iconic and striking feature of the Castle, is unfortunately not at a straight angle to the entrance – it is offset slightly. So in order to get the Kat balcony fully into the shot, I needed to take a few steps to the left. This, however, called more attention to the right sentry box, which was a bit overgrown with a flourishing plumbago.

It just wasn’t working as we had envisaged in our minds.


We then waited outside the Castle until darkness fell, in order to see the effect of the coloured lights on the walls and the entrance gate. It was quite magical.

While we were waiting, I took some additional shots of the city buildings – and particularly the iconic City Hall – with the sickle moon above. Oh, and the beautiful reflections of the city lights in the moat in front of the Castle.

Although none of these trial shots worked out as we’d envisaged, it sure was a lot of fun!


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