This place was so cool I had to visit it twice! Hearst Castle.. the hilltop domain of the flamboyant newspaper mogul William Randolph Hearst. There is quite a story around this enclave and the man himself. If you ever find yourself near San Simeon along the central coast of California you must make time to stop here for one of the tours. Be warned, tripods are not allowed, however monopods are. I read that on the website before going there and it’s a good thing, because some of the docents there were telling me “no tripod” when they saw me with mine. I reminded them that monopods were allowed and that I would use it as such. They are really strict about where you go and there are people following you everywhere to make sure you follow all the rules.
My first visit was in late afternoon where we saw the grounds and the main floor of this home where Hearst entertained the rich & famous. I was so taken with this place that I returned two days later to take the evening tour which is offered during the Holidays and the staff dress up in period costumes of the 20’s. This little touch adds so much to the authenticity. It’s really great to be wandering through the house and seeing people randomly playing cards, having dinner, reading in the library, all dressed up as they were in the heyday of Hearst Castle in the 1920’s.
This shot is of the Gothic Study up on the second floor. The detail everywhere is utterly amazing! I was there about a week before Christmas so that’s why the poinsettia’s and the evergreen centerpiece on the table. To get this shot I had to cheat a little on the no-tripod thing though. There were maybe two dozen people on the tour this evening so getting clear shots was only one challenge. the other thing was that the lighting was not bright at all and a monopod is not really all that stable. So what is a photographer to do to get the shot?
Look over your shoulder to see if any of the Hearst Castle Gestapo are nearby and , when the coast is clear, spread the tripod legs just ever so s l i g h t l y to get a stable platform. Then quickly grab my three exposure bracket and move on into the crowd.