Jun 26 : The 'The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O' Book Signing

June 26th, 2017.

There are currently no confirmed premieres coming up in London (but there are rumours for both 'Dunkirk' and 'Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets'. In such times of austerity, what can I, a simple photographer, do to keep myself amused?

Well... there's a Neal Stephenson book signing for one thing. (and yes, book signings can be premieres - I did them for Julian Assange's 'The Wikileaks Files' and also JJ Abrams' 'S' / 'Ship of Theseus'). Also I don't need an excuse : Neal Stephenson probably has 3 books in my alltime top 10 favourite books, and if you asked me to put together a list of the Top Ten Fictional Anything Ever (book or movie or tv show or comic book or computer game) - at least one of his books makes that top 10,... probably top 5. All Time.

No way I was missing this one. Here's how it went down:

If you'd asked me before today which living author I'd most want to photograph and get an autograph from, it would have been Neal Stephenson. As soon as I saw Barnes&Noble in the USA let you order a signed copy of his latest book months ago and have it shipped worldwide, I placed an order. That was... uh.... before I knew he was coming to London. And the book still hasn't arrived. (oops!)

If you'd asked me before today which living author I'd most want to photograph and get an autograph from, it would have been Neal Stephenson. As soon as I saw Barnes&Noble in the USA let you order a signed copy of his latest book months ago and have it shipped worldwide, I placed an order. That was... uh.... before I knew he was coming to London. And the book still hasn't arrived. (oops!)

Earlier:

"who's the bigger fan of Neal Stephenson? Well, the guy on my left got here before me, but I think you'll find my pile of books to be signed is higher. I notice you bought a single book to be signed... that's so sweet"

"who's the bigger fan of Neal Stephenson? Well, the guy on my left got here before me, but I think you'll find my pile of books to be signed is higher. I notice you bought a single book to be signed... that's so sweet"

"Did I really write all those, or did you slip a Fifty Shades of Grey hardback in there to see if I'd notice?"

"Did I really write all those, or did you slip a Fifty Shades of Grey hardback in there to see if I'd notice?"

"I see you've already pre-written a dedication "to my favourite blogger" here...."

"I see you've already pre-written a dedication "to my favourite blogger" here...."

After takinga few more establishing shots, I've joined the queue with my two books I've just bought because I foolishly didn't think to take any number of Neal Stephenson books I own....

After takinga few more establishing shots, I've joined the queue with my two books I've just bought because I foolishly didn't think to take any number of Neal Stephenson books I own....

"I notice some of these are already signed. Can I get one of those and grab an second signature?" (happened to me with a George RR Martin book once. True story!)

"I notice some of these are already signed. Can I get one of those and grab an second signature?" (happened to me with a George RR Martin book once. True story!)

"He seems like a nice guy! Maybe I could get him to sign other peoples' books that I also like?"

"He seems like a nice guy! Maybe I could get him to sign other peoples' books that I also like?"

No, I'm not about to faint at meeting one of my all-time favourite authors. Or if I am, I hope the security cams capture it : I'd love to get a shot of Neal Stephenson being induced to be concerned about my welfare...."

No, I'm not about to faint at meeting one of my all-time favourite authors. Or if I am, I hope the security cams capture it : I'd love to get a shot of Neal Stephenson being induced to be concerned about my welfare...."

"I don't suppose you could write a full message of your high regard for the degree of my fervent admiration for your talent? I'm happy to wait, or provide some key turns of phrases you could incorporate...."

"I don't suppose you could write a full message of your high regard for the degree of my fervent admiration for your talent? I'm happy to wait, or provide some key turns of phrases you could incorporate...."

"No, I will NOT do that ' "Sistine Chapel" finger-thingy', as you call it"

"No, I will NOT do that ' "Sistine Chapel" finger-thingy', as you call it"

Neal Stephenson.

Neal Stephenson.

So... that was pretty awesome. Neil Stephenson is not somebody I thought I'd ever meet or get to snap of photo of, or get a book signed in the presence of.

You should totally buy (and/or read, but certainly buy) his books if you're after big, dense ideas (and yes, you should totally rush down to Forbidden Planet and see if they have any signed copies of 'The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O.' left!).

My signed "Snow Crash" (damn straight it's not for sale!!)

My signed "Snow Crash" (damn straight it's not for sale!!)

My well-worn and well-loved copy of Neal Stephenson's "Anathem" - not just one of the best books I've ever read, but also one of the most... uh... useful hardcover books I own. (nope, I'm not elaborating)

My well-worn and well-loved copy of Neal Stephenson's "Anathem" - not just one of the best books I've ever read, but also one of the most... uh... useful hardcover books I own. (nope, I'm not elaborating)

2017 - Trooping The Colour

June 17th, 2017

At last year's Trooping the Colour, the Queen wore fluorescent nuclear green, hilarity ensued, and I photographed the event for the first time after findind a second-row spot barely after a 7am arrival.

This year, I was in town already, queueing for a wristband for tomorrow's "Transformers : The Last Knight" premiere, hoping like hell I'd find a good spot or roaming location after the 9am handout. However, owing to the presumed difficulty that Security has in (a) locating wristbands (b) handing out wristbands (c) telling the time, they were handed out almost an hour later, meaning I got on a bus to Westminster less than an hour before it started.

Here's how it went down:

This is The Mall. They're pretty good at telliing you to get a move on if you linger in the middle of the road even when Trooping The Colour isn't on.

This is The Mall. They're pretty good at telliing you to get a move on if you linger in the middle of the road even when Trooping The Colour isn't on.

Spot 1 (of a planned 4) was about midway along the Mall, left hand side if facing the Palace. One huge advantage had nothing to do with angles or elevation or slightly less crowds, and everything to do with there being plenty of shade on such a hot day.

"I told them I'm better at the bongos.."

"I told them I'm better at the bongos.."

"I'm not listening to you, Frank" "I'm not talking to you, George"

"I'm not listening to you, Frank"
"I'm not talking to you, George"

"Phil up front was just adjusting his sleeve and now we all have to do this to make it look co-ordinated...."

"Phil up front was just adjusting his sleeve and now we all have to do this to make it look co-ordinated...."

"Wait, Kenny : are you playing Slim Shady??"

"Wait, Kenny : are you playing Slim Shady??"

"Why are you all here? Are your horse-drawn carriages all at the mechanic?"

"Why are you all here? Are your horse-drawn carriages all at the mechanic?"

"None of them even bothered to co-ordinate their clothing. Don't make eye-contact with them, Dear." - The Duchess of Cornwall (left) and Duchess of Cambridge (right).

"None of them even bothered to co-ordinate their clothing. Don't make eye-contact with them, Dear." - The Duchess of Cornwall (left) and Duchess of Cambridge (right).

"Mum won't let me practice drumming in the house anymore. This seemed the most elegant solution"

"Mum won't let me practice drumming in the house anymore. This seemed the most elegant solution"

"It's correctly pronounced "Ee-Chu-taRR". It's a Star Wars reference. Her majesty will deny it, of course"

"It's correctly pronounced "Ee-Chu-taRR". It's a Star Wars reference. Her majesty will deny it, of course"

Prince Anne (Margaret?) at the right is the sister (daughter?) of the Queen (and didn't I reveal my ignorance of royal lineage precisely this way last year?)

Prince Anne (Margaret?) at the right is the sister (daughter?) of the Queen (and didn't I reveal my ignorance of royal lineage precisely this way last year?)

"Are they any less common-looking on your side?"

"Are they any less common-looking on your side?"

"I'm not endorsing your website, I don't know what a 'premieres.co' is, and my lawyers have special dispensation to carry M-16s. So tread carefully" - it's The Queen! She's on all the coins!!

"I'm not endorsing your website, I don't know what a 'premieres.co' is, and my lawyers have special dispensation to carry M-16s. So tread carefully" - it's The Queen! She's on all the coins!!

"One still maintains that some chrome rims and a lower profile would make this a more bitchin' ride..."

"One still maintains that some chrome rims and a lower profile would make this a more bitchin' ride..."

Spot 2 (of a planned 4) was facing the Horse Guards palace. It was considerably more crowded here than along the Mall, but with the aid of a step-stool, I was able to hold my camera about five centimetres lower than the average tourist holding up a mobile phone camera and blocking my view anyway.

"Is this one of those 'traffic jams' I sometimes hear people talk about? Can't we just excommunicate the person reponsible or get them to surrender their vehicle under Eminent Domain rules?"

"Is this one of those 'traffic jams' I sometimes hear people talk about? Can't we just excommunicate the person reponsible or get them to surrender their vehicle under Eminent Domain rules?"

"Sadly, no, my carriage is not airconditioned. But my hat reflects direct sunlight whereas your black "L.A.Dodgers" cap, while stylish, absorbs the heat. You should have given this more thought"

"Sadly, no, my carriage is not airconditioned. But my hat reflects direct sunlight whereas your black "L.A.Dodgers" cap, while stylish, absorbs the heat. You should have given this more thought"

"Whose side is the drive-thru window on? Can we stop for a milkshake and some cheesy fries?"

"Whose side is the drive-thru window on? Can we stop for a milkshake and some cheesy fries?"

"I've sent Pierre around for another attempt at ordering some snacks.... but let's get this thing started in the meantime"

"I've sent Pierre around for another attempt at ordering some snacks.... but let's get this thing started in the meantime"

"Well, this isn't inconspicuous at all" - this is where the Queen sits while (from what I can tell) various troops parade past her, for her approval, consideration, or a positive review on tripadvisor, or instagram likes or something.

"Well, this isn't inconspicuous at all" - this is where the Queen sits while (from what I can tell) various troops parade past her, for her approval, consideration, or a positive review on tripadvisor, or instagram likes or something.

(meanwhile, behind me) "Can you see anything at all?" "Sure, plenty of stuff" "But the Queen - can you see her??" "Well, no. Not her. But plenty of other stuff"

(meanwhile, behind me)
"Can you see anything at all?"
"Sure, plenty of stuff"
"But the Queen - can you see her??"
"Well, no. Not her. But plenty of other stuff"

"I hear they only handed out 2 of the 5 wristband colours for tomorrow's premiere of Transformers : The Last Knight so far, so your majesty might be lucky"

"I hear they only handed out 2 of the 5 wristband colours for tomorrow's premiere of Transformers : The Last Knight so far, so your majesty might be lucky"

Meanwhile : hey, that's MY flag!!

Meanwhile : hey, that's MY flag!!

"Does one hold up one of those emoji signs to express approval? Is that what the kids want these days?"

"Does one hold up one of those emoji signs to express approval? Is that what the kids want these days?"

"Well, that was delightful. I'm going home, now"

"Well, that was delightful. I'm going home, now"

Location 3 (of a planned 4) was back on the Mall, the other side of the road (right side facing the palace), and much closer to the 'top' near Buckingham Palace.

The 'professional' press have a privileged elevated spot facing directly along The Mall at the approaching carriages. I'd be jealous, if that emotion didn't generate heat I'm not presently able to disperse owing to the sunny, warm, breeze-less and generally "un-London-like" weather.

The 'professional' press have a privileged elevated spot facing directly along The Mall at the approaching carriages. I'd be jealous, if that emotion didn't generate heat I'm not presently able to disperse owing to the sunny, warm, breeze-less and generally "un-London-like" weather.

"I can see her!!! But she's, like, really really small. Well... either that or she's very distant"

"I can see her!!! But she's, like, really really small. Well... either that or she's very distant"

"I'm sorry, Ma'am, but it's exceedingly unlikely that she will be giving high-fives on her way past. Even though you're from Texas."

"I'm sorry, Ma'am, but it's exceedingly unlikely that she will be giving high-fives on her way past. Even though you're from Texas."

"These under-the-helm noise-cancelling headphones are amazing. Feels like I'm actually AT a Guns'n'Roses concert!"

"These under-the-helm noise-cancelling headphones are amazing. Feels like I'm actually AT a Guns'n'Roses concert!"

Friendly Mall-side policeman uses a Union Jack to cool down a tourist. How nice! (an older man near us was starting to feel medically uncomfortable with the heat...)

Friendly Mall-side policeman uses a Union Jack to cool down a tourist. How nice! (an older man near us was starting to feel medically uncomfortable with the heat...)

"This hat is fabulous, and the Queen says so, and that's all that matters" "She didn't say that" "She DID!" "That wasn't the Queen. And I think it was a HE" "Still fabulous, though"

"This hat is fabulous, and the Queen says so, and that's all that matters"
"She didn't say that"
"She DID!"
"That wasn't the Queen. And I think it was a HE"
"Still fabulous, though"

"I see none of you on this side of the road are any better dressed than the guys on the other side... and you had over an hour to head to the shops and buy something..."

"I see none of you on this side of the road are any better dressed than the guys on the other side... and you had over an hour to head to the shops and buy something..."

"You're looking at The Commoners again, Harry.... your Mom told you to stop"

"You're looking at The Commoners again, Harry.... your Mom told you to stop"

"Very well."

"Very well."

"I'll buy you a beer when this is all over. I promise"

"I'll buy you a beer when this is all over. I promise"

"The Queen told me to stop. Said I was drowning out the sound of the in-carriage speakers playing a playlist off spotify"

"The Queen told me to stop. Said I was drowning out the sound of the in-carriage speakers playing a playlist off spotify"

"Every time I'm at the pub and I tell the guys I'm going home to polish the end of my trumpet, they look at me funny. But how else am I meant to get it this shiny??"

"Every time I'm at the pub and I tell the guys I'm going home to polish the end of my trumpet, they look at me funny. But how else am I meant to get it this shiny??"

"Dental Hygiene!"

"Dental Hygiene!"

"Okay everybody... FLOSS!"

"Okay everybody... FLOSS!"

"One may have one or two drinks chilling in the fridge back home. Or one may have to send Jeffrey to get some"

"One may have one or two drinks chilling in the fridge back home. Or one may have to send Jeffrey to get some"

"Wait... you're like the third person with that style baseball cap I've seen today. Is it a thing? More importantly, are light blue pastel wide-brimmed hats no longer a thing??"

"Wait... you're like the third person with that style baseball cap I've seen today. Is it a thing? More importantly, are light blue pastel wide-brimmed hats no longer a thing??"

"See if you can them to put a gold "L.A." on the hat. It's what the popular kids are doing" "You want me to wear it backwards as well like that guy over there while I'm at it?" "Your hat is circular, dear"

"See if you can them to put a gold "L.A." on the hat. It's what the popular kids are doing"
"You want me to wear it backwards as well like that guy over there while I'm at it?"
"Your hat is circular, dear"

"I'm still not endorsing your website, young man...."

"I'm still not endorsing your website, young man...."

"Anyway, catch y'all later. One hopes your valet gets your carriage to you quickly"

"Anyway, catch y'all later. One hopes your valet gets your carriage to you quickly"

Location 4 (of a planned 4) The plan had been that after the carriages passed and they opened the Mall to pedestrians, I'd take up a spot on the other side of the large Queen Victoria Memorial / roundabout and photograph the balcony assemblage and flyby). But they didn't do it in the sequence I'd presumed and I would have strugged to get a good spot. Plus, what good is a balcony assemblage when nobody is wearing nuclear green? I did it last year....

I'd walked from Green Park to Leicester Square quickly enough to catch the Red Arrows flyby. And get a replacement wristband for tomorrow. Priorities, people!

I'd walked from Green Park to Leicester Square quickly enough to catch the Red Arrows flyby. And get a replacement wristband for tomorrow. Priorities, people!

So... that was that. Trooping The Colour 2017. I wouldn't mind doing it again next year, now that I know the flow of the event better and have an improved understanding of where to shoot the event.

But much more importantly, time to get some lunch, get something to drink, and get some sleep before tomorrow's premiere.

Until next time!

PS. If you want to know when I post one of these journals (Royal, or more likely film-related), feel free to follow me on facebook at premieres.co, on twitter at @berndt2_photo, or track me down and demand to pay me to cover your event, shoot your movie, or draft random commentary for your wedding album, corporate retreat, or next family gathering, Royal or otherwise.

As for Trooping The Colour... until next year?