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Composition Guide: Chichester Cathedral

How to photograph Chichester Cathedral

Our composition guides are here to inspire you with some of our favourite compositions from individual locations here in Chichester and West Sussex. We hope that guide like this will motivate you to get your camera and head out to capture your own masterpieces.

Plenty was already said and written about the history of this impressive monument. Therefore we are going to keep this post focusing on photography.

Chichester Cathedral

Location: Chichester, West Sussex, England | 50°50'10.7"N 0°46'53.7"W

Nearest Car Park: Little London Carpark | 50°50'12.0"N 0°46'38.0"W

Public Transport: Both a bus stop and a train station are within walking distance from the cathedral with frequent connection to other big cities.

Length Of The Visit: Around 1 hour

Difficulty: Accessible to all

When To Go: All year round

Conditions: Golden Hour, Sunrise, Sunset, Cloudy, Blue Hour

1. Main Cathedral View (West Street View)

Exact location: In front of the Costa coffee shop | 50°50'11.8"N 0°46'47.0"W

Camera settings: Sony a7r II | Sony E 24-240 (24mm) | 1/1000 at f/6.3 | ISO 100

Date & Time: 21/04/2020 @ 18:05

We will start our composition search on West Street, standing in front of the Costa coffee shop. This location is perfect for capturing as much of the cathedral as possible, with an opportunity for some lovely sunlight early in the spring. The West Street works as a leading line on wider shots. However, you can also turn the camera towards the cathedral and avoid the street with a tighter shot.

Depending on your gear, you may have to use the panorama or vertorama (vertical panorama) technique to capture as much of the cathedral as possible. If you plan on doing that, don't forget to keep your camera set on manual setting to avoid the difference in shutter speed between the shots. This will make your work in post-processing much more manageable.

Pro tip: The sun sets in different directions and angles throughout the year. The easiest way to plan your photo shoot for the best result is to use websites like or the mobile app called Photopills (Android | iPhone).

2. Frame-in-Frame Cathedral View (Chapel Street View)

Exact location: Chapel Street (Near the Weatherspoon Pub) | 50°50'12.4"N 0°46'48.4"W

Camera settings: Sony a7r II | Sony E 10-18 (10mm) | 1/60 at f/6.3 | ISO 320

Date & Time: 21/04/2020 @ 18:23

Our next stop is only a few meters away from the start point. Keep walking alongside East street and turn right on the corner of the Dolphin & Anchor pub. This will lead you to Chapel Street, and you will be able to see part of the cathedral from there with a lovely Frame-in-Frame composition created by the street itself.

For this shot, you will need an extra-wide lens as the view is quite tight, and there is a delicate balance between capturing as much of the cathedral as possible and keeping the frame nice and neat. Although the shot is doable with something around 24mm, you will most likely require something closer to 10-12 mm. If you don't have such a lens, you can again try to capture few photos and stitch them to the panorama later in the post-processing.

Pro tip: A frame within a frame (Frame-in-Frame) composition occurs when you use a visual element in the image to frame the primary subject. The purpose of using a frame within a frame is to help move the viewer’s eye toward that subject. The beauty of incorporating a frame within the frame is that it can be virtually anything you want - a doorway or window, a cave or tunnel, or even foliage, clouds, or areas of light and shadow.

3. Sout-East Cathedral View

Exact location: South-East of the Cathedral | 50°50'09.4"N 0°46'47.6"W

Camera settings: Sony a7r IV | Sony E 12-24 (12mm) | 1/60 at f/7.1 | ISO 100

Date & Time: 21/10/2020 @ 16:44

For the following composition, we will move to the grass area at the South-East of the Cathedral, near the entrance to the Cloisters. This spot will give you one of the most unobstructed views of the cathedral, with an impressive view of the spiral adding even more strength to the composition. The exact spot for your capture very much depends on the time of the year and the amount of foliage on the trees around this spot. Try to move around and see what works the best for you and your gear.

This spot is perfect for golden hours/sunset captures as the sun often sets behind the cathedral on the opposite side, creating great sky background throughout the year. Although we have a bit more space on this spot, you will once again benefit from a winder lens following the size of the cathedral. Put on the widest lens you have, and then move around the space to see what works the best. Many photographers use the vertorama technique at this spot to avoid unnecessary distortion created by an extra-wide lens.

Pro tip: The Eiffel Tower. The Statue of Liberty. Chichester Cathedral. Not all the world fits into our horizontal frames. Some of it climbs up and up! You need to learn a new technique for those images: vertical panoramas, also known as vertoramas. A vertorama is a panorama shot vertically. It is as simple as two shots combined to capture more foreground or a chance to capture the tallest of the tall things on the planet without a wide-angle lens. Vertoramas are a great option when you don’t have a super-wide-angle lens or want to capture more details than that wide-angle lens will provide in one shot.

4. Saint Richard's Walk Cathedral View

Exact location: Saint Richard's Walk (Canon Lane) | 50°50'07.4"N 0°46'52.4"W

Camera settings: Sony a7r II | Sony FE 24-240 (24mm) | 1/15 at f/8.0 | ISO 100

Date & Time: 27/05/2020 @ 19:36

We are now moving to the south of the cathedral, focusing on two famous compositions spots. The first one is at the end of the "hidden" Saint Richard's Walk, a historical path that connects the Cathedral's Cloisters with the Deanery and Canon Lane. The composition here is simple but very powerful. The key is to use the path (and the walls) as a leading line towards the cathedral. Make sure that you fit the whole cathedral into the frame (including the spire). Although you can capture this spot all year round, it does have a unique feel during spring and summer when there are flowers alongside the walk.

This spot will not require any special equipment, and you will be able to take amazing pictures even with a standard lens. Depending on the size of your lens, you can move back and forwards to make sure you fit as much of the cathedral into your frame as possible while keeping an eye on the leading lines.

Pro tip: This photography spot, like many others, looks the best around the golden hour/sunset time. We know that it's not always possible to be at every location at the perfect time, but some places are just worth the effort. And for the best possible planning, we recommend using the Golden Hour app (Android | iPhone)

5. Bishop's Palace Gardens Cathedral View

Exact location: Bishop's Palace Gardens | 50°50'09.2"N 0°46'59.5"W

Camera settings: Sony a7r II | Sony E 24-240 (24mm) | 1/40 at f/11 | ISO 100

Date & Time: 27/04/2020 @ 18:06

Our final spot is located in the beautiful Bishop's Palace Gardens. This spot is worth the visit even if you don't have your camera with you. It is probably the most known and recognised view of the cathedral used in magazines and books. The best spot for the cathedral captures is here (50°50'09.2"N 0°46'59.5"W). It is a spot with plenty of grass and many flowers that you can as a foreground. Again, the idea is to create something similar to the frame-in-frame composition while placing the cathedral in the centre of your composition and then navigating the trees on the left and right to create a balanced composition. It will take a little bit of navigating, but it will be worth the effort once you find the spot. Finally, remember that the Bishop's Palace Gardens close at sunset and open at sunrise or after 8 AM, like most public gardens.

This spot, just like the previous doesn't require any special gear. You will once again be able to take beautiful pictures with a simple standard lens as there is plenty of space to navigate around, and the cathedral is at a reasonable distance.

Pro tip: The weather is a crucial element for photography, and although you can capture this photography spot any time of the day, it benefits from a clear sky or a lovely warm golden hour. Professional photographers constantly watch the weather forecast, as getting out in ideal conditions can take your photos to the next level. Luckily for us, several helpful weather apps (free and paid) help predict those ideal conditions. While no app or forecast is foolproof or perfect, we have created a list of the five favourite apps we use to plan our photography adventures. You can check the list here.

Bonus - Pallant House Gallery Cathedral View

Russell Daniels

Exact location: North Pallant Street | 50°50'06.6"N 0°46'40.7"W

Camera settings: Sony a7r II | Sony E 12-24 (12mm) | 1/60 at f/6.3 | ISO 100

Date & Time: 05/05/2020 @ 19:05

We have a little bonus photography spot inspired by Russell Daniels. The spot is located in the famous Pallant House Gallery in Chichester. From there, you will see Chichester rooftops and the cathedral beautifully framed by a window at the gallery. Sadly, it isn't available all the time as it depends on the current exposition and the obstruction of the window. However, we felt it is an excellent bonus location to keep in mind next time you visit the gallery.

You will be OK with your standard gear; however, depending on the light, you may be required to use bracketing and simple HDR to capture details in the room and outside. You can do this automatically on most cameras, but you can also capture three photos with -1, +1 and 0 exposure and stitch them together later in post-processing.

Pro tip: In photography and videography, HDR or high-dynamic-range imaging is the set of techniques used to reproduce a greater range of detail and light than what is possible with standard photographic methods. Traditional techniques allow differentiation only within a specific range of brightness. Outside this range, no features are visible because, in the brighter areas, everything appears pure white and pure black in the darker areas. HDR helps record many real-world scenes containing very bright, direct sunlight to intense shade or very faint nebulae. High-dynamic-range (HDR) images are often created by capturing and then combining several different, narrower range exposures of the same subject.

And that's the end of this blog post. What do you think? Did we miss any photography spots, or have you captured some of them and want to share your result with us, simply contact us on our email:

See you next time.

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