Photographing a Century Old Mansion - André Vroon

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So without further ado, let me introduce you to the magnificent residence of Casa Loma that I had the pleasure of photographing recently. Not the well known historic mansion and museum in Toronto, Canada but a grand and luxurious mansion nevertheless! Tucked away in 11 ha of native and exotic bush and landscaped gardens in the leafy green suburb of Tirohanga, Lower Hutt, sits this more than century-old regal lady overlooking the meandering Hutt River below. With a floor area of 560 square metres, the sprawling residence has numerous living areas, 7 bedrooms, 6 bathrooms, a swimming pool and gym, plus garaging and parking for dozens of vehicles. While an expansive and luxurious property like this might well be a common sight in the English countryside for example, it’s certainly not something you expect to see everyday in the greater Wellington metropolitan area with its hilly topography and relatively small population.


Casa Loma means "Hill House" in Spanish and the best way to get a photograph of this rather large house on the hill and its surroundings is from the air. Below are a couple of shots I captured from my multi-rotor aircraft (ok its a tiny little drone but technically correct). Click to enlarge:

And a bit closer to ground level:

If the solidly built and stately home standing proud in its lush green setting wasn't impressive enough, the interior was even more photogenic. Walking through the front door into the entrance hall, one is immediately greeted by the sight of a stunning solid timber staircase that forms the heart of the home, a beautifully carved and carpeted structure that seems to physically and emotionally anchor the home, a very comforting presence one might say. Rather than continuing to wax lyrical about the pièce de résistance (in my opinion), why don't I just show you a damn picture you say?:

One of several living or entertaining areas can be seen through the doorway on the left - the formal lounge or to use a more old fashioned term, the drawing room:

On the opposite side of the entrance hall is the library/study, a brooding, ornate space that would be the envy of any university professor, past or present:

Ascending the aforementioned stunner of a staircase leads to a spacious and magnificent landing, dominated by a glittering chandelier that is graciously, yet securely suspended from the ceiling above the stairwell. I wonder how many people have walked past it at some point and thought "I'd like to take a swing on that thing." Miley Cyrus doing a follow up to "Wrecking Ball" springs to mind.

As much as I wanted to test out the structural integrity of the chandelier myself, all in a very scientific way of course, the bedrooms and bathrooms emanating from the landing awaited to be photographed. Sleeping quarters and ablutions fit for a king and queen is all I can say. Mostly king size beds though. Also fit for queens. Nevermind. Here is a small selection:

Back on the landing, a hidden, narrow stairwell leads to a huge attic space with beautiful wood paneling and its own bar, complete with a billiard table at the far end:

Back on the ground floor, the formal dining room is another feast for the eyes, even without food on the table:

Not to bore you with the kitchen and informal living area, let's move on to the guest quarters which are in themselves the size of a small house. Designed and styled with the same attention to detail as the main dwelling, it is fully self contained with its own large bathroom and kitchen.

At the risk of ending proceedings rather abruptly, that just about wraps up our speedy but hopefully insightful tour of Casa Loma where my aim was to share with you some of my favourite images captured on the day. In closing, this unique property was a delight to photograph, partly because I just don't come across this sort of subject matter very often. As a photographer that often finds solace in minimalist compositions and muted colour schemes, this was quite an assault on the old eyeballs, with my visual cortex working overtime to process the stream of visual information jack hammering my retinas. But it was a jack hammering I rather enjoyed. Now if only I could have shot this on 4x5 tranny film (older photographers will understand), with a large format camera on a wooden tripod, my transportation to yesteryear would have been complete. To see you out, here are a couple images I took at dusk:

Long live Casa Loma!


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