Evening shoot at Copped Hall

Picture of a stone folly in the grounds of Copped Hall near Epping

A long exposure capture of a stone folly in the grounds of Copped Hall.

A few weeks ago I had a great evening visit to Copped Hall with some photographers from Edmonton Camera Club.

Copped Hall is a Georgian mansion close to Epping in Essex which can be seen from the M25 as it passes through the corner of the park. It is currently being restored by the Copped Hall Trust who run a programme of events to allow public access and raise funds. It is not generally open outside of advertised events. I really must try to get there to take pictures of the outside during the day. To my shame, I completely missed a herd of deer as I drove through the park. OK, it was getting dark.

Our visit was hosted by Peter Warne of Loughton Camera Club, you can see some of his personal pictures here. As we arrived the weather was a bit damp although we had the promise of a dry evening. For that reason we visited the cellars first and deferred taking long exposure photos outside until later in the evening.

So we started inside taking pictures in the cellars which are being restored. Artificial light threw shadows on the walls and there was the danger of things being too contrasty – this had to be corrected in post. There were good texture and great curves combining to allow interesting shots if only the right viewpoints could be found. These are some of my pictures with notes to cover the reason for the picture and processing.

Copped Hall Pictures

This is my favourite from the cellars pictures. The aim was to emphasise the curves of the roof and capture a flavour of the restoration work. Lack of space meant having to use a short focal length which was great for depth of field but has the foreshortening effect of making the pillar in the foreground disproportionately large. Standing back a little would have been better but there was no room. This was taken at f/13 for 25 seconds. Processing was mostly in LightRoom (LR) to lift some details out if the shadows and sort out general tonality. It did get dropped into Photoshop (PS) to remove a fire extinguisher in the far doorway and also complete the floor bottom left where there was a bit of a hole. It really could do with a focal point in the far doorway – it might yet get one.

Picture of brick built pillars and vaulted ceilings in the cellars at Copped Hall

Restoration work at Copped Hall showing materials and work in progress.

The idea for the next picture was stolen without shame from Jenny Burden. The lamp doesn’t work and is actually lit by somebody standing behind the pillar shining a torch at it but the effect is pretty realistic. The overall lighting effect needed a bit of dodging and burning to try to make it look as though there was a single light source. I should have taken out the bright spot in the light rays to the right of the picture. If it ever goes into a competition, that and the raised boards on the shelf will have to be sorted. There was a bit of work to shine up the brass but my favourite bit is the single strand of cobweb.

Picture of a lantern shining in the cellars at Copped Hall in Essex

Lantern in the cellars at Copped Hall.

The Kitchen looked easy to photograph but turned out to be really difficult. The title in my head was “Handles” as it described the implements, baskets and pans. In camera I committed the cardinal sin of cutting off the handle of the bucket / churn device on the far right. The handle was ‘remodeled’ in PS to keep it within the frame but I need to have taken it just a little further. A sheet of paper tacked to the wooden chest at the back had to be removed and some paper signs on the dresser shelves were replaced by cloning a couple of copper pots. Removing the plastic envelope on the table was becoming too elaborate. The picture was exposed for the shadows but that left a lot of the scene a bit contrasty. This was rectified, bizarrely, by combining a silver Efex layer to give everything a move even wash.

Picture of a kitchen being restored in Copped Hall with the large kitchen table in foreground and a dresser with copper pans behind.

Kitchen being restored in the cellars of Copped Hall in Essex.

This was probably the simplest shot, a little alcove within the structure being used to store some (unfortunately empty) wine bottles. Not much needed by way of composition because the strong lines and echoing curves were a gift. The contrast of glass against the stone was nice and we were even given 3 individual piles of bottles – who could ask for more. There is a bit of work to lighten the green bottles darken the edges of the picture slightly but not much else.

Copped Hall Epping wine bottles on a stone platform

Copped Hall – Repurposed shelving

This one is a bit different. It reminded me either of Prisoner Cell Block H or a public toilet in Hampstead, I’m not sure which is least unpleasant. I tried a few times but could get a single useful exposure so this is a 3 shot HDR. Its given a nice outline to the window corners though and the lines across the ceiling also help draw you towards the door. The heavy shadow working diagonally could have been lifted a bit but it looked to me like a shroud and made things just a little more sinister. The near window edge is a bit soft but most of the rest is sharp enough.

Picture of a dark and sinister corridor leading to a dilapidated door

Sinister tiled corridor leading to an old door in the cellars at Copped Hall

Couple more indoor shots before we go outside (click for bigger versions)

Dungeon like cellar of Copped Hall, Epping

n examination of the texture and curves of the cellars being restores at Copped Hall near Epping.

Nothing much new here but turned to mono for greater emphasis on structure and texture. There is a focal point of sorts on the left hand vertical third but the tonality is all artificial. The edges have been darkened to pull the eye towards the “exit” door which has been lightened. Again, it could do with a something more in that doorway to give interest. Perhaps Mr Blobby peering round the corner or one side of the Tardis just visible.





Piles of bricks being used to restore Copped Hall Cellars

Piles of bricks and paviors being used in the restoration of Copped Hall, Epping


And the last interior shot showing the raw materials being used for the restoration. Actually it’s a detail from the first picture with some modern wooden / plastic boards cloned out. I really liked the crossing curves in the ceiling and the texture of the material which is semi-softened when it becomes walls, arches and pillars.




Garden Follies at Copped Hall

This the first stone folly shot. It is illuminated with a single light source which is why there are some quite harsh shadows. This one is ISO 400 at f/11 for 20 seconds. Because it was a still night there isn’t much by way of movement in the trees. All I really had to do was walk up to the building and remove an upturned broken chair that had been abandoned there. The shadow of the conifer on the right wouldn’t normally be a great idea but I think it adds atmosphere here. Also, there is maybe a bit more sky than usual but I like the scale and sense of things beyond. Now I’m getting freaky ūüôā

Picture of a stone folly in the grounds of Copped Hall near Epping

A long exposure capture of a stone folly in the grounds of Copped Hall.

This was taken with a 14mm lens so need a fair bit of correction to unbend the verticals but they’re still not quite right. The exposure was based on a bluish torch played over the walls. It took a few goes to get this even and there were other light around too which added a colour caste. You can see some of that in the bottom right hand corner. There were some plastic bins and such that had to be removed in post. The sky was actually dark of course but the 30s exposure reveals the effect of pollution in the atmosphere. It’s faintly in the last picture too.

Picture of a ruined folly in the grounds of Copped Hall

Long exposure to capture a stone folly at Copped Hall in Essex. A variable focus torch was used to bring out the detail of the stones.

Follies Black and White

This is the last picture in the group but overall not a bad result for 2 or 3 hours shooting. The lighting is from a hand held torch. I’ve converted this to mono so as to avoid the intrusion of the colour in the sky. There is more detail available in the trees but I didn’t want them to compete with the folly. Hope these have been worth the time spent looking at them. Thanks for your time.

Picture of a stone folly in the grounds of Copped Hall taken at night with a long exposure and cool torchlight used to paint the details

Folly in the grounds of Copped Hall


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