Top summer photography spots

Summer is a great time to get out and about to explore the landscapes on your doorstep. We talked to one of our volunteer photographers, Sam Milling, about his favourite places to photograph in Kent and East Sussex. Sam got his first camera when he was eight and rarely leaves the house without his latest bit of kit. He finds that taking photos adds another dimension to a walk. Having grown up in East Sussex, Sam knows some of the best places to photograph in the area and has shared some of his top tips with us.

The tall stone walls of Bodiam Castle surrounded by water with a blue sky and clouds behind

Bodiam Castle 

This is such an iconic place to photograph. I’m in awe when I visit and you almost can’t take a bad photograph. Whether you shoot it from some distance away or closer to, the castle has to be the main focus of the image. It sits so grandly in the setting and you almost get a sense of the weight of it. My favourite shot has to be at a slight angle with some greenery in the foreground.

A close up photograph of a purple flower with white centre

Sissinghurst Castle Garden 

It’s the flowers that make it for me at Sissinghurst. In summer you’re spoilt for choice but also in cooler months when the skies are grey it is still a stunning place to visit. I don’t even mind if the sky is grey as I tend to get out my macro lens and focus on close up shots. Try photographing the flowers with the light shining towards you, through the petals or leaves, for the best effect.

A view from the top of a hill looking over a field near the River Dudwell on Bateman's estate East Sussex

Bateman's 

I grew up locally in Burwash and loved walking through fields with my brother as a child. I get a real sense of nostalgia when I’m photographing at Bateman’s as the landscape hasn’t changed over the decades. My top place to photograph is the countryside between Burwash and Bateman’s. The Dudwell Farm Walk is a good way to see this. There are some lovely views of the Dudwell Valley as you walk down the hill towards Bateman’s.

Looking through some flowers over a moat full of water to a ruined stone castle in the distance

Scotney Castle 

I love exploring the variety that Scotney Castle has to offer. From the wider estate with its mixture of woodland and farmland, to the cottage style garden around the Old Castle, there’s so much to take in. Even though it’s not far from a busy road you still feel away from it all. My favourite view is looking across the water to the ruined castle. I suggest taking a low shot with plants in the foreground and the castle in the distance.

A woman wandering through high flower borders on a brick path with a white clapboard house behind

Monks House 

This little cottage garden is quite a contrast to the open spaces I’m normally drawn to. The combination of the mass of English flowers set against the backdrop of the house is what really makes it for me. You get a real sense of perspective by using the pathways trailing off into the distance in the frame of the photo. Try playing around with which side of the image you want to lead the eye for the best effect.

Acid green, pale yellow and bright blue flowers in the rock garden at Emmetts Garden

Emmetts Garden 

I’m always struck by the diversity of the garden at Emmetts. There are so many surprises to discover as you wander through. One minute you’re in the sunken rock garden and the next in a very informal woodland garden. It means you get to test out lots of different depths of photography but I think I liked the vibrant colour clashes in the rock garden the best. If you crouch down low and shoot across the flowers you get a very interesting effect.

A woodland scene with fresh green leaves and low sunlight streaming in between the tree trunks

Ightham Mote 

I really enjoy the estate walks because they tend to be quieter. I find this sort of landscape more natural with less human intervention. The woods are coppiced, which lets more light through. You can get a really atmospheric shot with strong sunlight coming through the branches. My suggestion for a timeless image is to arrive early as the sun is lower in the sky like this image by one of my favourite National Trust photographers John Millar.