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A photographers guide to Cardiff

By ResLife1 21 Nov 2020

As you will soon discover, Cardiff is a very photogenic (and by extension, Instagrammable) city.  No wonder that so many scenes from popular TV shows, such as Sherlock, Doctor Who and Torchwood, were filmed here; in fact, some of the places labelled on-screen as London were very much filmed in Cardiff City Centre or Cathays. When the sky is clear and the sun is shining, there are a lot of places outdoors where you can play around taking photos. When it is overcast or rainy, which is often the case in Cardiff, there is a high chance the sky would look white and that your outdoor pictures will overall look dark; however, there are also many indoor or covered places that allow you to practice your skills. 

While the best way to explore Cardiff through the camera lens is to just go on long walks around the city, below are some suggestions for particularly photogenic hotspots. If you are inspired by this article and take any pictures that you would like to share, do not forget to tag us on Instagram at @residencelifecu! All photo rights in this article go to our RLA, Adelina Halchin.

Golden Hour in the city centre

One thing to know when you are planning a photo trip is to look out for the Golden Hour, which refers to the period of time right after sunrise or right before sunset. During these time windows, the light is softer and warmer than the rest of the day, bringing a nice, dreamy vibe to the town. 

The best place to catch the evening Golden Hour is the city centre and the area between the Main Building and Gorsedd Gardens. With the sunset falling nicely towards the west of the city above Leckwith and Riverside neighbourhoods, what you will get is soft golden light soaking up most of Cathays, including the Main Building, the statues, Cardiff Castle and the City Hall. (Pro tip: always make sure that you sit with your back to the light source, in this case the sun – otherwise if what you want to photograph is illuminated from behind, you will get a lot of shadows.)

Golden Hour Cardiff

Bute Park is also a great place for photography – both in autumn when the trees are colourful and in spring, when they all go green again.

Bute Park cardiff

Capturing the Arcades 

As far as photo opportunities go, the Arcades are hard to miss. With their narrow corridors, beautiful vintage design, high glass ceilings and fairy lights, they are by far a gift that keeps giving when it comes to photography.

Cardiff Arcade

Cardiff Bay 

Cardiff Bay is the other shopping and restaurant area of the city, besides the City Centre. It also hosts the Welsh Millenium Centre, the Senedd and Cardiff Bay Wetlands Reserve, where you can see many different species of birds. On a sunny day, you can even see in great detail the coast of Penarth, on the other side of the bay, with its tall coast wall and stacks of colourful houses. Altogether, there are plenty of interesting places to photograph, both if you are into street photography and/or wildlife photography.

Cardiff Bay

Llandaff Cathedral and surroundings 

Given that this area is outside the main student bubbles, it can be left largely unexplored. However, it is about 1 hr walk or a short bus trip away from Cathays, and it is absolutely worth visiting. The cathedral itself incorporates elements of Medieval and Gothic styles, and it dates back to 1120. 

Llandaff Cathedral
Llandaff Cathedral

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