At Ashton Court we teach photography courses just 2 miles from the Bristol city centre, while being entirely surrounded by Somerset countryside.
The estate is a major recreational area of 850 acres, rather like a London park. It is used by hundreds of Bristol residents every day, as well as for major events like the Bristol Balloon Fiesta and concerts. The grounds have formal rose gardens, parkland, an iron-age hill fort and giant redwood trees. There are herds of both red deer and fallow deer.
Ashton Court is often used as a backdrop for family portrait photography, and is a great place for dog photography as the steps and levels enable you to easily get to the right level without lying on the ground. We can give photography tips for flower photography, as there is a large rose garden as well as various wildflowers within the grounds. Because Ashton Court is not sprayed, there is a wide variety of insect life here, which make good macro photography subjects. There are many ancient trees, including a 700-year-old oak tree, called the Domesday Oak that was selected by The Tree Council as one of 50 Great British Trees. As with many of our venues, the variety of subjects makes it very suitable for photography for beginners.
In such a large park, there are plenty of opportunities for landscape photography. Some of the park is even an SSSI was time at home with ground nesting birds including skylarks. The park was landscaped by Humphrey Repton, and the layout of the landscape can be seen as a story as a visitor arrives at the gatehouse and comes through the landscape with tantalising glimpses down to the main house. One of the best photography techniques for this sort of venues to consider how the land was originally landscaped and the property was designed to be seen. Ashton Court, in common with many National Trust properties, puts the car park and the cafe in the stables and many people arrive at the back door. For landscape photography we need to imagine ourselves arriving by carriage at the gatehouse, riding through the lime tree avenue and sweeping down to the front door. The entire property was landscaped for this purpose, and landscape photography can only be enhanced by taking this into account. As usual, one of our photography tips would be standing back and considering what your photograph is intended to show, and then going after it in a considered fashion.
Phil lived at Ashton Court in one of the Deer Park keepers cottages for a couple of years, and knows the parkland well. We have judged photography competitions for Venue magazine (RIP) and the Bristol Civic Society, and many “favourite pictures of Bristol” are taken at Ashton Court. It’s a great place to spend a day, and an easy and convenient location to access from the M5.
We are based in the visitor centre in the manor’s old stables. We meet at the courtyard cafe at 10am and finish there at about 4:45pm.