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12-09-2019, 06:36 PM   #1
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Stonehenge UK Lens Options

We will be making a trip to the UK over Christmas and plan to visit Stonehenge. I have not been there in 30+ years, so not certain how close to the stones you can get these days? As a result, I was wondering if anyone had any experience as to the best focal length lens to utilize to capture the complete circle. I prefer to shoot with primes but really can't bring every lens with me on the trip. I will be using a K-70 for the trip. Thanks in advance for your advice.

12-09-2019, 06:53 PM   #2
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I've no idea about access to the site, but would think that a somewhat longer focal length lens from a greater distance would do a better job of getting the whole circle in proper perspective. A wide angle lens shot from close-up would make the near-side stones look over-sized compared to the far-side stones. Visiting at off-hours (sunrise might be quieter than sunset) could avoid other tourists and if you are shooting from the road or distant vantage, you don't need access (but may need a tripod).

A visit to the site via Google Maps (or similar service) might let you scout for accessible vantage points or plan distances or locations for your shots.
12-09-2019, 08:47 PM   #3
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The last time I was there was in 2013. Here are a couple of shots that I took using a K-10D with a FA 28-80mm lens. The first one was from outside the berm surrounding the site and is at 40mm. The second shot is from the closest approach allowed back then and was taken at 58mm. These should give some idea of what to expect, assuming that the allowed approach distances haven't changed. Larger focal lengths will allow you to fill the frame at longer distances, on the walkway approaching the site, but it might be difficult getting a clear shot through the tourist crowd, which I've heard has gotten larger since I was there.

Hope this helps.
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Last edited by subsea; 12-09-2019 at 09:07 PM.
12-09-2019, 08:59 PM   #4
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I was there last month towards the end of the day with the 18-135. It was on the cold side and the number of visitors was quite low.

12-09-2019, 09:14 PM   #5
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I was there in June 2018, and took the following photo from about as close as I could get.
Focal length equivalent to 28mm on full frame. Even with such a wide angle I thought it was a good view of the stones.

Fuji GSW690II, Kodak Ektar 100 film

12-09-2019, 10:31 PM   #6
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I was there in September 2016. It was quite easy to get shots with no people in the frame. 18mm would have been my widest (on APS-C) and I had no problems getting what I wanted. I think you can only walk around inside at the solstices (when all the would-be druids get in on the act).
12-09-2019, 10:50 PM   #7
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I was there in July 2016, and organised a sunset visit after the park was closed, allowing access to the inside of the stone circle. If you have time to organise it, do it! I used Mad Max tours.

DFA15-30 @ 22mm on the K-1





@ 15mm



DA10-17 @10mm on the K-1 (crop mode)



From further back, but still inside the rope. DA*55 on the K-1 (FF mode)



So essentially, if you're looking for primes on a crop camera, 35mm (maybe even 40mm) will get the whole stone ring in the frame from the security rope. Something a bit wider would be perfect if you want a bit of wriggle room. I reckon he DA21 would be perfect, especially with its flare resistance. The DA15 would be too wide.

Personally, despite the fact that light will be scarce at that time of year, I'd pack a zoom (18-55, 16-85, 18-135 - whatever you have) because I imagine there will be quite a bit of competition for positions. We had the privilege of avoiding that - there were only 16 of us in the whole area
12-10-2019, 02:18 AM   #8
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@All, stunning shots. I haven't been closer than the main road but would probably struggle with a site that large with so many possible viewpoints.

It looks like lighting & filtration may be key (along with trying to avoid people in garish coloured jackets).

12-10-2019, 05:27 AM   #9
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As Sandy mentioned, they offer special tours at dawn and sunset that have fewer people and access inside the inner ring. I highly recommend this over the regular tour which can be crowded.
12-11-2019, 07:35 AM   #10
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Thank you for all the information and recommendations. I think we are too close to the date to arrange one of the inside the stones tours. Hopefully going in early January will keep the crowds down a bit. It sounds like the FA 35 mm I normally keep on the K-70 (just in case I need an aperture ring) will be good. The DA 21 mm can certainly come along as it's so small. I think the DA 14 mm can probably stay home (it's much heavier anyway). I don't have anything longer than 50 mm in an auto-focus prime but may throw (not literally) a general purpose zoom in the kit just in case.

Thanks again for all the recommendations. I will try and report back after the trip.

Last edited by reduno; 12-11-2019 at 07:41 AM. Reason: Typo
12-11-2019, 07:48 AM - 2 Likes   #11
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Good luck on the trip! I'm sure you will enjoy it. One additional technique not discussed is that you could use a neutral density filter and a very long shutter speed to make it harder to see any people that might be there. They're likely to move during the shot and vanish on the final image if you are lucky. Some might show as ghostly trails but most will just disappear.
12-11-2019, 11:33 AM - 2 Likes   #12
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QuoteOriginally posted by UncleVanya Quote
Good luck on the trip! I'm sure you will enjoy it. One additional technique not discussed is that you could use a neutral density filter and a very long shutter speed to make it harder to see any people that might be there. They're likely to move during the shot and vanish on the final image if you are lucky. Some might show as ghostly trails but most will just disappear.
Alternatively a pin-hole might be an interesting idea.
12-11-2019, 01:08 PM   #13
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And a third idea (in addition to UncleVanya's ND filter, and johnha's pinhole) is to think about adding a bit of astrophotography to this archeoastronomy site. A few possibilities might include:

1. A star-trails image from a vantage point due south of the stones so that Polaris is directly above them with the circling stars. (Or a dual rule-of-thirds image with Polaris in the upper-right 1/3 and the stones in the lower-left 1/3.)

2. A moon-rise or moon-set shot in conjunction with blue-hour sun-set or sun-rise (respectively). Maybe even with Belt of Venus - Wikipedia creating some color layering.

3. A full-moon-lit image with the bright, behind-the-camera moon casting shadows.

Whether any of these are possible depends on access, willing family, and compliant weather.
12-11-2019, 01:30 PM   #14
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QuoteOriginally posted by reduno Quote
Thank you for all the information and recommendations. I think we are too close to the date to arrange one of the inside the stones tours. Hopefully going in early January will keep the crowds down a bit. It sounds like the FA 35 mm I normally keep on the K-70 (just in case I need an aperture ring) will be good. The DA 21 mm can certainly come along as it's so small. I think the DA 14 mm can probably stay home (it's much heavier anyway). I don't have anything longer than 50 mm in an auto-focus prime but may throw (not literally) a general purpose zoom in the kit just in case.

Thanks again for all the recommendations. I will try and report back after the trip.
Late to the post but I'll attach a few images from May 2017 with K-3 plus DA20-40 and the DA55-300. These are taken from different angles as you walk around the outside of the circle. If you're patient you can usually grab an image with nobody visible - especially in January.
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12-11-2019, 01:34 PM - 1 Like   #15
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Oh, one more thing. Not sure how you're getting to Stonehenge but some of the tours also stop off at Avebury Henge which is excellent to wander around. No restrictions like Stonehenge - you can cuddle the stones as much as you like

This is an image from January 2017 as the sun is coming up, K3 with the DA14
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