Everyone has heard of famous Bath gems like the Royal Crescent and the Circus. But there’s much more to Bath than that! Here are our 10 favourite photos of hidden Bath.
1. Torchlit Roman Baths
The Roman Baths are always beautiful. But summer evenings offer a special opportunity for photographers. In July and August the museum is open until 10pm (last entry 9pm), and the baths are illuminated by torches. The dim light makes for wonderfully atmospheric photos. Another advantage of shooting at this time of day is that most day tourists will have gone home. You can’t use tripods in the museum, so remember to set a wide aperture and bump up your camera’s ISO setting.
2. The Guildhall
The Guildhall is described by one architectural guide to Bath as an “immensely extravagant building”. While not as grand in scale as the Circus or Queen’s Square, but there’s still plenty inside and out to reward the patient photographer. Look out for the neoclassical frieze high up on one corner. If you want to take photos inside, just ask at the reception desk. The staircases are pretty and the banqueting hall on the upper floor is said to be the finest room in Bath.
3. The Empire Hotel
The Empire Hotel (completed in 1901) has had “mixed” reviews from architectural commentators. The Pevsner guide to Bath slams it as “an unbelievably pompous piece of architecture”. In recent years, Bath residents seem to have got more used to it though, and it looks great in photos so who are we to complain?! The photo above was taken from North Parade. Another nice angle is at night from the opposite side of the river Avon. Look out for the diagram of the British class system on the roof: a castle for the rich, a house for the middle classes, and cottage for the poor. (I wouldn’t mind living in a cottage!)
4. Sally Lunns
The famous Sally Lunns bun shop and museum is tucked away down a pretty little street close to Abbey Green. It claims to be the oldest house in Bath; part of the upper stories are from 1482, and the foundations Roman. This street is fun to photograph, especially as the lights come on in the evening, so we sometimes include this in our night photography tour. You might want to use a lens with a long focal length to flatten the perspective. If you are in need of refueling between photos the buns are very nice too!
5. Bath Abbey Cemetery
This is one of my favourite spots for taking photos outside Bath’s center, and is an option on our full-day tours of Bath. The cemetery was built when the Abbey itself ran out of space to bury any more of Bath’s great and good under its floor. It is particularly photogenic on a summer’s evening or on a frosty winter morning. I’m told that deer occasionally make an appearance, but I’ve yet to see one myself. A potential location for night photography too. If you dare!
6. Bath Buskers
Bath has long been famous for music. One of the first acts of Bath’s famous Georgian master of ceremonies, Beau Nash, was to bring in professional musicians from London. These days you can enjoy music on the streets and get some interesting photos too. We often grab a few portraits of the buskers on our smartphone photography tour. A small unobstrusive camera makes it a little easier to get close. A portrait or zoom lens is a good idea if you are wielding a big DLSR. Remember to use a wide aperture if you want to blur our the background behind the busker.
7. Sham Castle
Did you know that Bath has a castle? Well it doesn’t really… just a facade. Sham Castle is perched up on a hill overlooking Bath. You need a car, or to take a taxi to access it up close. It you want to photograph Sham Castle from Bath’s center, you can do so from from Orchard Grove near the Abbey. But you’d need quite a long lens: one with a focal length of at least 200mm. (On a night photography tour last autumn I spotted the moon come up from behind the hills, right over the castle. Murphy’s Law meant I only had a wide angle with me at the time!)
8. Cleveland Pools
Cleveland Pools are the only surviving Georgian lido (outdoor swimming pool) in the UK. They aren’t open to the public but can be viewed by appointment. They are now in the process of being rennovated so have probably changed a bit since I took this photo. Be quick if you want to photograph them in elegant decay! I took this in summer, but if the water freezes over in winter there is a spectacular photo waiting for someone!
9. Artisans in Bath
If you enjoy taking environmental portraits how about checking out some artisan businesses in Bath? This is from George Baytun bookbinders (founded in 1894). They kindly let me into the workshop to take some photos. Another interesting place is Bath Aqua glass who have a workshop on Walcot Street, Bath’s unofficial artisan quarter. We sometimes head down there on our way to the Royal Crescent during the Classic Bath Photo Tour .
10. Georgian Backsides
Lastly, don’t forget to peek round the back of Bath’s Georgian masterpieces. Often you’ll find a fun and photo-friendly architectural jumble. The reason is that Bath’s architects generally only designed the front facade of developments like the Royal Crescent and Queen’s Square. The backs and insides were left up the individual builders, who used a variety of materials and styles. The elegant city of Bath isn’t always what it seems!
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