Shooting Gothic

As a kid I probably watched too many Hammer ‘horror’ films. These were made in Britain in the 1950s to the 1970s and were very tame, even comical by today’s standards – so tame they were often shown on Sunday afternoons. I don’t remember being scared at all, but the graphic style kept me watching.

Shot in a park one winter morning – I didn’t even see the figure by the gate when taking it.

At least that’s one explanation for my liking of a visual style which could loosely be described as Gothic (in the sense  ‘Of or relating to a style of fiction that emphasizes the grotesque, mysterious, and desolate‘). It fits well into commercial work for fiction book covers, and if you’re not careful becomes something of an occupational hazard.

Can’t resist a shot of a gothic door arch.

Lensbaby – plastic lens and lots of vague blurriness as a result.

The best part of doing shots like this is that you can let rip with all sorts of vignettes, brushes, layers and wierd post processing and not be too worried about subtlety – it’s supposed to look like that!

Speaks for itself really. The birds were added afterwards in Photoshop using a brush – the one and only time I’ve done this – honest!

Locations can be anywhere where there’s what my nieces would call ‘old stuff’.  Monuments, churches, parks, the old parts of towns and older buildings.

Basement door with possibly too many layers…

As for kit, don’t worry too much as these shots will be heavily processed. If you have one, try the Lensbaby with a wide aperture (no surprise there) or failing that a fast lens shooting as wide open as you can – if needs be use a neutral density filter. The more vague, blurry tones the better as they seem to work well with Photoshop layers. Don’t be afraid of messing about with your DSLR’s ‘in camera’ processing either – this may be the only time you’ll use it productively.

The blur down each side of this is caused by the ‘Miniature Effect’ in camera raw processing on the 60D not being used as designed.

If you like the ‘look’, give it a try and experiment with as many different post processing techniques as you can. There are articles about Photoshop layers, brushes etc all over the web if you want to play.

Above all have fun, and don’t take it too seriously!

Sorry – it’s another door!

As always (broken record) these are taken for the book covers market and all comments, critiques are very welcome. Hope you like them.

There’s a slightly older article here in the same style here Shooting Gargoyles if you’d like to see more.


10 thoughts on “Shooting Gothic

      • I took a look at your stock photo website, and I’m curious–what is a typical cost for rights to a photo like that, for a book cover for example? I’m hunting for some ghostly images for an ebook.

      • Hello Judy,

        As it’s ‘rights managed’ it depends on a few things like how long the rights are bought for and what the geographic cover of the publication is. It’s probably best to contact the agency itself as they’ll talk you through the options and give you a price – the photographers just take the pictures and hope that they sell! Arcangel are a friendly lot so you should find them helpful.

        Good luck with your publication.


    • Glad you liked them. I’ve been trying to be a bit more subtle with my processing in the last few months so was worried these might be a bit over the top. Thanks!

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