Top Spots for Photography
We have loads of great landscape photographers on the Isle of Wight, which is not surprising given the number of fabulous locations for capturing the beauty of the Island. And still more visit every year to take a few special shots to add to their portfolios.
All photography credit to Jeff Morgan
Pioneer photographer Julia Margaret Cameron made her home here at ‘Dimbola’ house in Freshwater between 1860 and 1875. Now a museum and themed café, you can visit Dimbola to see the photographs she took of the ‘Freshwater Circle’ of famous faces that include Tennyson, Lewis Carroll and pre Raphaelite painter William Holman Hunt who all had houses nearby.
Best Locations for Photography
- Pretty Freshwater Bay, hewn from the chalk cliffs, and the nearby Needles are favourites for landscape photographers, with the chalk Needle rocks and lighthouse especially picturesque as the sun goes down. Of course, the coloured sands of Alum Bay are also a favourite, as is the adjacent ‘Warren’ when the heather is in bloom.
- Atop Ventnor Downs is another great place to shoot the purple heather in early summer and the bluebells in late Spring. Bonchurch with its large Victorian pond and the pretty town of Ventnor that tumbles to a small traditional beach are also favourites with photographers, as is the lush greenery of St Lawrence and the wild rugged coastline here.
- Compton Bay has a wide expanse of reflective sands when the tide is out and cliffs of bright orange through to the stark white chalk. You can catch action shots of surfers and kite surfers here too, and at Brook beach next door. Blackgang Beach in the south is very imposing, and quite difficult to reach, but well worth a look.
- Our only megalithic monument, The Longstone, makes for some great shots, especially at sunset, and nestled below it is Mottistone Manor and Gardens – both owned/managed by the National Trust. The manor and church opposite could be straight out of a period drama and the location for Benedict Cumberbatch’s recent wedding.
- Travel north from here and you will find Newtown Nature Reserve (also National Trust) where you can get some truly atmospheric shots across the old salt pans and the marshes. And you can bag shots of water fowl and rare sea birds if you have a lens long enough.
- Cowes at the northern most point of the Island is very photogenic, especially if you like boats! Get shots in the Haven of yachts at rest, or action shots of them out on the Solent. The Round the Island Race (July 1st 2017) is a fabulous opportunity for yachts and landscape shots, especially as they round the Needles.
- Osborne House in East Cowes and Carisbrooke Castle (both English Heritage properties) to the west of Newport are wonderful for both landscape and historical shooting. Fab views down to Osborne Bay from the house that Victoria made her home and far-reaching views across the north of the Island from the Keep at Carisbrooke.
- Drive along the top of Brading Downs and you have views across the whole of the centre and eastern side of the Island – as far as Portsmouth and the Spinnaker Tower to the north and all the way to Ventnor Downs in the south. The undulating fields make for some great shadowy shots in early morning and get a mist through the valleys and you’re in for some fabulous photos.
- Yaverland Beach is another atmospheric location, especially for ‘moon rising’ shots as is Culver Down that looms over the beach. Nearby Isle of Wight Zoo have special courses for learning to shoot their big cats – but only with a camera you understand (see below).
- Nearby Bembridge Windmill (National Trust) is great for those ‘super moon’ shots if you have the right equipment. Bembridge Lifeboat station is another great location for sunrise and sunset shots with the moon rising. With a long lens you can capture the latter from The Duver where there are other lovely beach hut and sand dune shots to be had and moody shots of St Helen’s Fort in the Solent. At low tide in August everyone walks out to it and that makes for some amazing shots.
- Ryde to the north of the Island has the second longest pier in the country and it’s a great subject, whether in the early morning, lamp lit in a night time shower, or framed by the sunset in the east. Nearby Appley Tower just up the beach is great in the winter, especially for crisp sunrises and wonderful if we are lucky enough to get some snow.
- Firestone Copse is good for bluebell and spring flower shots and Shorwell Shute with its picturesque wooden bridge is especially fine when the wild garlic is in flower. Want to photograph the Milky Way? There are some great dark sky locations along the south west coast for this.
These are but a few of the great locations for photography on the Isle of Wight, and there are still those you’ll discover for yourself as you travel around. A field of poppies might assault you in a country lane, or the bright yellow of oil seed rape. Whether you’re a professional or a keen amateur, you’ll always find something worth shooting.
Jeff Morgan runs photography courses on the Isle of Wight all year round, picking you up from the ferry or your hotel to do a day’s landscape photography. He does dawn shots to the east of the Island and finishes at the west end to get the sunset, although as the days get longer you’re more likely to do one or the other, not both. You can also take week long courses with accommodation. All the photographs with this piece are by Jeff Morgan.
The Grange in Shanklin’s Old Village run photography courses in Spring and Autumn with David Babsky, formerly Technical Editor of best-selling Practical Photography magazine. David will show you how to get the best from any camera, whether it is a pocket point-&-shoot or a professional SLR. He believes that it is not what you use, but how you use it which gives you great photos.
Wildlife photographer Karen-Jane Dudley runs Really Wild Photography workshops at the Isle of Wight Zoo in Sandown. The workshops have behind the scenes access at specially designed photography stations giving you a unique opportunity to photograph a variety of the zoo’s stunning big cats at close quarters, including Zena the white tigress and Casper the white lion.
Available Light has a shop and gallery in Newport’s St Thomas’s Square and photographer Steve Gasgoigne LRPS also has his work in other galleries and shops around the Island.
Dimbola feature the work of former owner Julia Margaret Cameron, who converted the hen house into her dark room. Plus they always have at least one other photography exhibition and a permanent exhibition to the 1970 Pop Festival held near here.
The New Rembrandt Gallery in Newport may have photography as part of their current exhibition and downstairs are amazing pet portraits by Dale Durfee.
19 May 2017