I’m an architectural photographer and writer.

On my van-life travels through the British Isles I’m building up a word and photo-hoard of material culture that celebrates the value and distinctiveness of our built heritage and contributes to a sense of place.

My van is my time-machine, it gives me fresh perspectives on our remarkable places, shared here on a weekly basis.

⚡️ Missed the last Digest? Here it is.

⚡️ View Digest Archive here.

It takes a day a week to produce this digest. With your support, I’m able to keep this digest free and public facing. 📸🏛🚐

❓Can you help support this digest? More here. ℹ️


Rievaulx Abbey Twilight


“I do not believe that ever any building was truly great, unless it had mighty masses, vigorous and deep, of shadow mingled with its surface.”

John Ruskin, The Seven Lamps of Architecture



The type of photograph that I often get asked to take is called the 'hero shot'. It’s a photograph of a building lit up from the inside, just after sunset, when the shadows are deepening. It takes advantage of the contrast between shadow and light.

There’s a small pocket of time in which to get the shot, so at the death of the day I have to be at my most alive, to capture the scene during a period called the ‘blue hour’.

Here are some of my professional shots taken at twilight:

I love the fact that, as well as viewing a day chronologically, it can also be experienced through colour. My Photopills app tells me that these colour changes happen at opposite ends of the day, around the rising and the setting of the sun. In the evening the golden hour occurs at sunset and shortly after that, the predominant colour of the light is on the blue spectrum.

The colour spectrum caught in a day at Wells Cathedral

After the blue hour, there is nautical twilight in which the stars and horizon become visible, making navigation at sea possible. The third twilight phase is astronomical twilight which marks the start of the night proper, where the gloaming is gone and most stars in the sky are visible.

My own mood tends to correspond with the changing of the light. Especially at twilight, there’s a feeling of stasis, of reflection, of being blessed at having been a part of the sun’s story - its motion so distinct and apparent at the tipping points of the day. During the evening twilight there’s a melancholy undertone, a lamentation for the fading light. It’s best captured by Peter Davidson in a passage where he describes a view from a twilight walk:

“The sun sinks below the nearest peak. Deep in the distant hills, mountain slopes and high grasslands are flooded in gold. Looking westwards over the darkened fields towards this transient, bright kingdom I am seized by an unreasoned longing to be there in that unreachable temporary paradise at the frontier of the day.”

Twilight is the only part of the day where its transition seems to impact all of the senses. Colours change in an instant, sounds are closer and contained, there’s an earthy aroma as the dew takes hold, and objects become cold to the touch.


Helmsley, North Yorkshire

Helmsley Twilight

All photos shot on iPhone

I arrived in Helmsley last week in total darkness. Because I have a kind of home on wheels - I often arrive at my destinations early and then make a coffee on the hob and soak the place up.

This time I was drawn into the town centre by a clinking and chattering. It was 7am.

"What on earth could be going on at this time? I thought.

You know that feeling in the first light in an unfamiliar town? Cold and damp, buildings silhouetted, streets pooled in tungsten light. But in Helmsley I was drawn to the noise and the flickering lights beyond the church tower.

"It can't be. Could it be? Could it really be a market?"

The joy of coming across a busy market (with shops open in the square) during twilight is beyond compare. I made for the local bakery and bought a Danish and Coffee and walked around the square, taking it all in.

I take my trove back to the van in the car park. I switch on the heater and I look out of the window at some lumps and bumps taking shape in the diffused light. They look like they're a part of the castle defences (I find out later that they are). I sit and watch as the sun begins to rise in the east and, as its golden rays filter through the trees, I see a dark shadow, a massing behind them.

It's the castle, and it looks as though it's hovering above the ring-ditch, framed by a fringe of light on the grass. The only camera I have with me is my iPhone, so I set it on RAW and fire away. I zoom into the scene as if in disbelief. It looks like a mirage, ghostly.

Twilight is the best time of day.

Helmsley Village Buildings


Helmsley Castle

I was at the castle for a Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings (SPAB) Yorkshire tour of the conservation works at the castle.

The original medieval castle evolved into a Tudor Mansion which is now undergoing essential repairs. Here are some photos from the visit.

All Saints, Helmsley

I walk in to the churchyard at All Saints and spot a festive sprig of holly. I get my iPhone out and try and take a macro shot of the berries and leaves. In doing so, I get my hood caught on the spiky leaves.

It's a new coat, so I take my time and elaborately snake my head and shoulders around until I'm nearly there. I then stand on my tiptoes and summon up a little wiggle and hey presto! I'm undone.

From behind I hear a voice: "Are you trying to take a selfie with the holly bush?"

There's a queue of people waiting behind me on the path..

I take a moment and then walk up to the church and enter through the Romanesque door - they're all there, of course, the holly people - helping set up the Christmas tree competition.

The church is medieval in origin, but has been much altered. The chancel arch has some surviving Norman work with beakheads.

But the real treasure in the church is the early C10th Hogback Tombstone. The design is of Viking origin, and it is likely that this was used for the grave of a local descended from Danish aristocracy.

Can You Help?

🚐 Can You Help Keep Woody on the Road? 🚐

I’m so grateful for those that have made a pledge to help me move closer to my goal of 25 patrons which will initiate a search for a deserving project to photograph for free.

Can you help me achieve my goal of patron funded photography and help keep this digest free and public facing?

Join me from behind your duvet on my travels through the winter months with immersive content, the full Treasure Hoard Index, VR views, free downloads and more…

⚡️Becoming a Patron: check out what it’s all about…


These are the days I'm grateful for the heater in the van and the sizzle of bacon on the hob.

I have a new kettle - but it won't whistle (it's supposed to) - so the jury is out. I love the design - based upon a curling iron. Maybe that's why it won't whistle - it's a kettle that wants to be a curling iron.

On My Coffee Table


Lancashire’s Bank Hall restored to former glory | The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Lancashire’s Bank Hall restored to former glory | The National Lottery Heritage Fund

Thanks to National Lottery support, the Grade II* listed Bank Hall has completed its extraordinary renovation journey and can welcome visitors to explore its heritage.

Some of my commissioned pics of Bank Hall

Film and Sound

BBC Sounds - Packing My Library by Alberto Manguel - Available Episodes

BBC Sounds - Packing My Library by Alberto Manguel - Available Episodes

🚐 👂Listened to this in the van whilst travelling through Wales this week. Wonderfully evocative exposition for the home library.

From the Twittersphere

Way to go, Rebecca! Just received my Friends of Friendless Churches mag on the mat - it looks lovely on the paper they have used.

From the Shop

Wray Castle and the Langdale Pikes, Cumbria, England. – Digital Print.

Wray Castle and the Langdale Pikes, Cumbria, England. – Digital Print.

This is one of my favourite photos taken in the Lake District. Click the link for more...

Members and Patrons Corner

Screenshot from Twitter Circle

🔥Twitter Circle

Click here to see all Twitter Circle Posts - choose the ‘latest’ tab.

Are you a member or patron and not in the Twitter Circle? Send me your handle and I’ll add you to it. I’m @fotofacade on twitter.

Latest Posts

Comperandum: The Pelican Symbol (New Additions)

Full Insight: Helmsley Castle Tudor Mansion Conservation (inc VR)

Heads Up: My latest Polarsteps Journey - follow me live

Quick Access

Full Index: Access the full Patreon Index here

Treasure Hoard Index: Access the Treasure Hoard Index here

Free Downloads: Find free downloads here

Polarsteps: Track my completed Polarsteps journeys here

Wallpaper: Free Architecture Wallpaper Collection

Video: Access all video here

Genius Loci Digest: Access the full index here

Virtual Reality: Access all VR content here

Place Writing: Access my place writing series here

The Comperandum: a nod to Banister Fletcher here

Ways of Seeing: Learn how to be curious

Treasure Hoard Gazetteer

Andy Marshall’s Treasure Hoard Gazetteer Map

My Treasure Hoard Map is open to all. It is an evolving enterprise and I’ll be adding more entries as time passes.

View the full map on Google maps

View the full map on Google Earth (recommended)

More on the Treasure Hoard Gazetteer

Thank You

Thanks to all subscribers for your continued support

Thanks to Patrons and Members for helping keep the Genius Loci Digest free and public facing.

And Finally

Here's lookin' at you, kid! The emus of Wilton say thanks to Rebecca for such a lovely portrait. Missed the Wilton edition? Here it is.

My Linktree