29/30 June 2019 - The St Albans '24 in 24' Photo Competition

I’d never done a 24 in 24 photo competition before… or really any kind of photo competition, but when I heard about this one in St Albans I definitely thought I’d give it a go.

The way it worked was : at 11am a list of 24 ‘items’ or categories would be handed out, and competitors would have until 11am the following day to upload/submit their photos for each one.

Here’s how mine went down, photo by photo…. and potentially error by error! For each one I’ve written my thought-process and also what I would do differently now… for basically every single photo.

1. ST ALBANS MARKET  - it was a Saturday and the markets stretch along most of the main street in St Albans - I knew that I’d want a nice background and context almost more than the market itself, so I chose a shot in front of this distinctive building.  On Reflection : if I’d done this whole series in colour rather than black’n’white, this is the photo that would have been improved the most.

1. ST ALBANS MARKET - it was a Saturday and the markets stretch along most of the main street in St Albans - I knew that I’d want a nice background and context almost more than the market itself, so I chose a shot in front of this distinctive building.
On Reflection : if I’d done this whole series in colour rather than black’n’white, this is the photo that would have been improved the most.

2. SPEED  - I love these birds that scoot across the water to move quickly and I thought I’d subvert the topic a bit, since “birds” was also a theme.  On Reflection : I also took a photo of a vintage jaguar complete with motion blur that I should have used. It’s one thing to be subversive but I think that the other photo was stronger.

2. SPEED - I love these birds that scoot across the water to move quickly and I thought I’d subvert the topic a bit, since “birds” was also a theme.
On Reflection : I also took a photo of a vintage jaguar complete with motion blur that I should have used. It’s one thing to be subversive but I think that the other photo was stronger.

3. YE OLDE FIGHING COCKS  - this pub is one of the oldest in Britain, and it’s near the lake. My shot was fairly cliche’d as I knew when I took it, but I hoped that the fisheye lens would at least provide a unique perspective.  On Reflection : I should at least have taken it from a non-body-height vantagepoint. I could have used a low perspective to have some of the cool cobblestones in the foreground, or used my monopod (which I had with me) to take a much more unique perspective.

3. YE OLDE FIGHING COCKS - this pub is one of the oldest in Britain, and it’s near the lake. My shot was fairly cliche’d as I knew when I took it, but I hoped that the fisheye lens would at least provide a unique perspective.
On Reflection : I should at least have taken it from a non-body-height vantagepoint. I could have used a low perspective to have some of the cool cobblestones in the foreground, or used my monopod (which I had with me) to take a much more unique perspective.

4. PURPLE  - I like this alleyway as the building on the ‘top’ is eye-catching. The high-vantagepoint and fisheye makes the image interesting. However,  On Reflection - I kind of hate that I used this photo, as it meant I used the same location (and same performers) for THREE different shots, which I think is unforgivable in a competition like this. Purple is a tricky colour, but I had other options, including lavender flowers near the war memorial at the ‘top’ of the high street.

4. PURPLE - I like this alleyway as the building on the ‘top’ is eye-catching. The high-vantagepoint and fisheye makes the image interesting. However,
On Reflection - I kind of hate that I used this photo, as it meant I used the same location (and same performers) for THREE different shots, which I think is unforgivable in a competition like this. Purple is a tricky colour, but I had other options, including lavender flowers near the war memorial at the ‘top’ of the high street.

5. CINEMA  - I took this photo of the St Albans Odyssey cinema at sunset, which is probably not the best thing for a monochrome conversion, but I think the wide-angle lens does a good job, AND I actually had the camera on a monopod for this shot to give it a more unique vantagepoint.  On reflection : I mostly think this photo works, but maybe I should have taken an interior shot - asked if I could take a single shot of the upper seats facing the screen during (say) the trailers in front of the movie…..

5. CINEMA - I took this photo of the St Albans Odyssey cinema at sunset, which is probably not the best thing for a monochrome conversion, but I think the wide-angle lens does a good job, AND I actually had the camera on a monopod for this shot to give it a more unique vantagepoint.
On reflection : I mostly think this photo works, but maybe I should have taken an interior shot - asked if I could take a single shot of the upper seats facing the screen during (say) the trailers in front of the movie…..

6. LAUGHTER  - I don’t really have anything good to say about this photo. I think it’s the weakest of all the 24 shots I took, and it’s in the same location, and of the same performance troupe, as the photos for ‘purple’ and ‘music/sound’ which is unforgivable.  On reflection : it’s probably still the best photo I have on laughter… but I should have done something better. ANYTHING better. One local pub has a cynical sign out the front that reads “no children. dogs welcome”… I think THAT might have been better.

6. LAUGHTER - I don’t really have anything good to say about this photo. I think it’s the weakest of all the 24 shots I took, and it’s in the same location, and of the same performance troupe, as the photos for ‘purple’ and ‘music/sound’ which is unforgivable.
On reflection : it’s probably still the best photo I have on laughter… but I should have done something better. ANYTHING better. One local pub has a cynical sign out the front that reads “no children. dogs welcome”… I think THAT might have been better.

7. RUM.  I actually own a pottery-style flask that looks like a stereotypical ‘rum’ jug, but I had no idea what to do with it, so despite carrying it around all day, in the end I decided to buy a Rum (and Coke) in the St Albans pub that I think has the coolest interior - the Waterend Barn and photograph it there.  On reflection : I like this photo, and the idea of photographing certain ‘generic’ item in a cool location is something I should have done more of… but one issue is that this photo is even cooler in colour… this is one of those times where I should have considered not just the photo but how I intended for it to be displayed (at this point I hadn’t decided on colour vs black’n’white)

7. RUM. I actually own a pottery-style flask that looks like a stereotypical ‘rum’ jug, but I had no idea what to do with it, so despite carrying it around all day, in the end I decided to buy a Rum (and Coke) in the St Albans pub that I think has the coolest interior - the Waterend Barn and photograph it there.
On reflection : I like this photo, and the idea of photographing certain ‘generic’ item in a cool location is something I should have done more of… but one issue is that this photo is even cooler in colour… this is one of those times where I should have considered not just the photo but how I intended for it to be displayed (at this point I hadn’t decided on colour vs black’n’white)

8. GEORGE STREET  - I was struck by how it was basically impossible to conceive of any original shot to take on this street… so I kind of settled on something unusual rather than aesthetic : a manhole cover at the very end of the street. Art? (Please tell me it’s “Art”)  On Reflection : … I’m not sure. Maybe a monopod shot might have worked better. Or a wider angle - but it’s kind of a busy road (which is not an excuse a REAL photographer should use, I expect.

8. GEORGE STREET - I was struck by how it was basically impossible to conceive of any original shot to take on this street… so I kind of settled on something unusual rather than aesthetic : a manhole cover at the very end of the street. Art? (Please tell me it’s “Art”)
On Reflection : … I’m not sure. Maybe a monopod shot might have worked better. Or a wider angle - but it’s kind of a busy road (which is not an excuse a REAL photographer should use, I expect.

9. PINEAPPLE  - I climbed St Albans’ Clock Tower twice with a pineapple to take this photo, and in the end the photo looked as forced as it was. Square peg meet round hole.  On Reflection : I took a photo of a coffee cup up there that was better, and I should have taken a photo of the pineapple in front of the “commit no nuisance” door….

9. PINEAPPLE - I climbed St Albans’ Clock Tower twice with a pineapple to take this photo, and in the end the photo looked as forced as it was. Square peg meet round hole.
On Reflection : I took a photo of a coffee cup up there that was better, and I should have taken a photo of the pineapple in front of the “commit no nuisance” door….

10. BIRDS . I knew I didn’t want to take photos in this category on Lake Verulam, though that decision meant I pretty much limited myself to pigeons. But in terms of the location on the streets of St Albans - radial power lines and the Abbey in the background… I’m pretty happy with that.  On Reflection : I had two alternates - one with a different set of buildings and a ‘cuter’ bird (non-pigeon) on a line, and one with a better row of buildings albeit with no abbey in the background… not sure, but I still think this was the best option. And I don’t think going to The Lake like everyone would have helped unless I had a lot more time to take a unique photo.

10. BIRDS. I knew I didn’t want to take photos in this category on Lake Verulam, though that decision meant I pretty much limited myself to pigeons. But in terms of the location on the streets of St Albans - radial power lines and the Abbey in the background… I’m pretty happy with that.
On Reflection : I had two alternates - one with a different set of buildings and a ‘cuter’ bird (non-pigeon) on a line, and one with a better row of buildings albeit with no abbey in the background… not sure, but I still think this was the best option. And I don’t think going to The Lake like everyone would have helped unless I had a lot more time to take a unique photo.

11. WATER . Well, I guess given a lack of fountains in St Albans and a lack of Imagination from me, I would need to take a shot of the Lake after all. I did want to capture a kind of moody and dark texture, though - and rather than nothing-but-liquid, I decided to keep a bird in frame - either to confuse the judges or impress them with the occasional multi-category shot here and there (?)  On Reflection : not sure - maybe I should’ve gone with the cryptic-galaxy style muddy water shots… or better yet created my own spray effect and photographed it at fast shutter speed…)

11. WATER. Well, I guess given a lack of fountains in St Albans and a lack of Imagination from me, I would need to take a shot of the Lake after all. I did want to capture a kind of moody and dark texture, though - and rather than nothing-but-liquid, I decided to keep a bird in frame - either to confuse the judges or impress them with the occasional multi-category shot here and there (?)
On Reflection : not sure - maybe I should’ve gone with the cryptic-galaxy style muddy water shots… or better yet created my own spray effect and photographed it at fast shutter speed…)

12. ST ALBANS ABBEY.  Obviously I took photos inside and up close as well, but in the end I was quite pleased I remembered this vantagepoint from the top storey of The Maltings’ carpark. This is one of the few shots I’m pretty happy with - it’s a different view, it’s from a distance, and it’s framed how I wanted it. The only improvement is probably technical : the gradation of the colour from white centre to black edges looks a bit over-edited.  On Reflection : nothing to add, this was my preferred shot. and I’d take it like this again… maybe with the fisheye if I was making that a complete ‘style choice’ for all 24 photos….

12. ST ALBANS ABBEY. Obviously I took photos inside and up close as well, but in the end I was quite pleased I remembered this vantagepoint from the top storey of The Maltings’ carpark. This is one of the few shots I’m pretty happy with - it’s a different view, it’s from a distance, and it’s framed how I wanted it. The only improvement is probably technical : the gradation of the colour from white centre to black edges looks a bit over-edited.
On Reflection : nothing to add, this was my preferred shot. and I’d take it like this again… maybe with the fisheye if I was making that a complete ‘style choice’ for all 24 photos….

13. REFLECTIONS  - I’m pleased with this shot except for two things : (1) it looks better enlarged so anyone looking or judging it on a mobile phone (rather than, say, a 20-inch monitor) won’t be that impressed, and (2) it looks slightly better in colour. But this is about as good a composition (to my style/taste) as I’m capable of - everything is where I want it to be in this shot.  On Reflection : LOL. No change. This would have been tricky with the Fisheye, though, if I’d set myself the challenge of all 24 shots being taken on that one wide-angle lens.

13. REFLECTIONS - I’m pleased with this shot except for two things : (1) it looks better enlarged so anyone looking or judging it on a mobile phone (rather than, say, a 20-inch monitor) won’t be that impressed, and (2) it looks slightly better in colour. But this is about as good a composition (to my style/taste) as I’m capable of - everything is where I want it to be in this shot.
On Reflection : LOL. No change. This would have been tricky with the Fisheye, though, if I’d set myself the challenge of all 24 shots being taken on that one wide-angle lens.

14. COFFEE  - I had a coffee cup from my favourite St Albans haunt, Charlie’s Coffee and Company lying around so I used it as a prop, and I knew I wanted to take a photo with this (arguably) ‘famous’ door in the background, even if blurry.  On reflection : should’ve done this shot with a pineapple, and the coffee cup (perhaps) at the top of the clock tower. It would have fit both props better, I think.

14. COFFEE - I had a coffee cup from my favourite St Albans haunt, Charlie’s Coffee and Company lying around so I used it as a prop, and I knew I wanted to take a photo with this (arguably) ‘famous’ door in the background, even if blurry.
On reflection : should’ve done this shot with a pineapple, and the coffee cup (perhaps) at the top of the clock tower. It would have fit both props better, I think.

15. FEAR.  I made a mistake here - the idea is good but the execution is shoddy and it doesn’t stylistically fit any other shot. Also I had a better idea and I no longer know why I didn’t go for that instead.  On reflection : My first thought was to take a photo of one of St Albans’ many CCTV cameras - at the train station, various parking locks (there’s even one in a metal ‘cage’ outside a shop just off the High Street)… and I should have gone with that and concentrated on a good delivery of a simple idea, rather than an incomplete shot of a marginal idea.

15. FEAR. I made a mistake here - the idea is good but the execution is shoddy and it doesn’t stylistically fit any other shot. Also I had a better idea and I no longer know why I didn’t go for that instead.
On reflection : My first thought was to take a photo of one of St Albans’ many CCTV cameras - at the train station, various parking locks (there’s even one in a metal ‘cage’ outside a shop just off the High Street)… and I should have gone with that and concentrated on a good delivery of a simple idea, rather than an incomplete shot of a marginal idea.

16. THE ALBAN WAY.  The Alban Way is a walking track that (vaguely) connects St Albans Abbey Station and St Albans City Station - I liked the mottled shadows and figured I’d take a shot of the path (rather than a view FROM the path)… I just think this isn’t as good a shot as it could have been.  On reflection : should’ve used the fisheye and found a better composition that looked a bit more atmospheric.

16. THE ALBAN WAY. The Alban Way is a walking track that (vaguely) connects St Albans Abbey Station and St Albans City Station - I liked the mottled shadows and figured I’d take a shot of the path (rather than a view FROM the path)… I just think this isn’t as good a shot as it could have been.
On reflection : should’ve used the fisheye and found a better composition that looked a bit more atmospheric.

17. PORTRAIT  - I knew I didn’t want a cliche’d shot, and I’m more interested in candid portraiture at events than ‘proper’ portraiture, so I actually think treating a masked street performer as my subject was a good idea, and I like the background, which is The Boot, a pub with a nice frontage.  On reflection : I like this shot - maybe should’ve brought the pub into slightly more focus, but as a quick semi-candid (with consent!) portrait I’m pleased with this. For added kudos I maybe should’ve used the fisheye lens…. maybe.

17. PORTRAIT - I knew I didn’t want a cliche’d shot, and I’m more interested in candid portraiture at events than ‘proper’ portraiture, so I actually think treating a masked street performer as my subject was a good idea, and I like the background, which is The Boot, a pub with a nice frontage.
On reflection : I like this shot - maybe should’ve brought the pub into slightly more focus, but as a quick semi-candid (with consent!) portrait I’m pleased with this. For added kudos I maybe should’ve used the fisheye lens…. maybe.

18. ROMAN.  This segment of the Roman Wall overlooking lake Verulam is quite nice, and I liked that the shadows frame it pretty well. I knew I didn’t want to go anywhere near the museum to get something cliche’d there, but I feel I needed to think harder.  On reflection : Sadly, I’m not sure what I could have done much differently. I had no easy alternative to this shot, and no better idea than this. St Albans is a former Roman Town, but I couldn’t think of anything More Roman than this..

18. ROMAN. This segment of the Roman Wall overlooking lake Verulam is quite nice, and I liked that the shadows frame it pretty well. I knew I didn’t want to go anywhere near the museum to get something cliche’d there, but I feel I needed to think harder.
On reflection : Sadly, I’m not sure what I could have done much differently. I had no easy alternative to this shot, and no better idea than this. St Albans is a former Roman Town, but I couldn’t think of anything More Roman than this..

19. THE MUSEUM / GALLERY . The only real question I considered was : INSIDE or OUTSIDE. Inside with a Fisheye would have been neat, but outside with the fisheye and a monopod would almost certainly give me a cool shot. I had an alternative to this taken further to the right, where the building seems to ‘float’ above the canopies of the market stalls.  On Reflection : I think I should have tried to think of a better idea… this was good, but not great.

19. THE MUSEUM / GALLERY. The only real question I considered was : INSIDE or OUTSIDE. Inside with a Fisheye would have been neat, but outside with the fisheye and a monopod would almost certainly give me a cool shot. I had an alternative to this taken further to the right, where the building seems to ‘float’ above the canopies of the market stalls.
On Reflection : I think I should have tried to think of a better idea… this was good, but not great.

20. PUDDING.  St Albans has a Pudding Van that’s parked outside the train station on afternoons, but on weekends it’s parked near a mall. I took a shot but couldn’t make myself love it. However, ‘Puddingstone’ is mined in Hertfordshire and I was told a large boulder of it was near the Old Water Mill (aka. The Waffle House).. I took only three shots, and I still kind of had to cheat with the composition in post-processing.  On Reflection : I had an alternate : an antiques shot on George Street had a Polished Puddingstone (“Take home a piece of St Albans!”) in its front display window. I took the shot but the price tag of the neighbouring mini-teracotta warrior was too distracting… I should have used it (maybe) and digitally removed the price tag (maybe)

20. PUDDING. St Albans has a Pudding Van that’s parked outside the train station on afternoons, but on weekends it’s parked near a mall. I took a shot but couldn’t make myself love it. However, ‘Puddingstone’ is mined in Hertfordshire and I was told a large boulder of it was near the Old Water Mill (aka. The Waffle House).. I took only three shots, and I still kind of had to cheat with the composition in post-processing.
On Reflection : I had an alternate : an antiques shot on George Street had a Polished Puddingstone (“Take home a piece of St Albans!”) in its front display window. I took the shot but the price tag of the neighbouring mini-teracotta warrior was too distracting… I should have used it (maybe) and digitally removed the price tag (maybe)

21. CLOSED / SHUT.  This is a door on St Albans Abbey, and there’s also a digital lock (not in the image) on the top right. I’m not sure if there was a better composition that could make it more obviously A Door that wouldn’t also risk distracting from the very pretty metalwork….  On Reflection : I’d probably keep this one as is. It’s also better in black’n’white than colour.

21. CLOSED / SHUT. This is a door on St Albans Abbey, and there’s also a digital lock (not in the image) on the top right. I’m not sure if there was a better composition that could make it more obviously A Door that wouldn’t also risk distracting from the very pretty metalwork….
On Reflection : I’d probably keep this one as is. It’s also better in black’n’white than colour.

22. MUSIC / SOUND.  It’s not a bad portrait shot, but everything this photo has going for it is lost because I had this segment of St Albans featured in THREE photos which I would not want to do again. Sadly, I couldn’t really think of anything better.  On Reflection : I should have seen if there was a live act playing at The Horn pub and taken a concert shot. It’s right near where I live and could’ve been quite dramatic and impressive. Damnit.. why didn’t I do that??

22. MUSIC / SOUND. It’s not a bad portrait shot, but everything this photo has going for it is lost because I had this segment of St Albans featured in THREE photos which I would not want to do again. Sadly, I couldn’t really think of anything better.
On Reflection : I should have seen if there was a live act playing at The Horn pub and taken a concert shot. It’s right near where I live and could’ve been quite dramatic and impressive. Damnit.. why didn’t I do that??

23. NIGHTTIME  - I like this intersection, I liked the time of day, I liked the church in silhoutte with two streetlights AND car headlights all showing starburst lens flares. I think this is one of the better shots I took.  On Reflection : I had what I thought was a ‘clever’ idea to take a ‘day for night’ shot of the sun through a distinctive streetlamp in a park… but I think this is better.

23. NIGHTTIME - I like this intersection, I liked the time of day, I liked the church in silhoutte with two streetlights AND car headlights all showing starburst lens flares. I think this is one of the better shots I took.
On Reflection : I had what I thought was a ‘clever’ idea to take a ‘day for night’ shot of the sun through a distinctive streetlamp in a park… but I think this is better.

24. FILM FESTIVAL . On the negative side, MANY PEOPLE took this shot - holding their mobile phones above the 1.8m high exclusion barrier and sneaking a shot of the audience. However, I had a fisheye and a monopod to take this shot to include the screen, the audience AND the abbey - I liked the idea of taking a photo that everyone else was taking, but differently (see also : possibly the Ye Olde Fighting Cocks pub shot).  On Reflection : *Maybe *       I should have taken this shot at night… but the fitness app on my phone already read that I’d walked OVER THIRTY NINE THOUSAND STEPS on the day…. this would have been a considerable additional walk in the evening, and I was already up til 2:30am editing and uploading photos (I had a premiere the next day, so all my photos were actually taken across about 10 hours, not the full 24 I had access to)

24. FILM FESTIVAL. On the negative side, MANY PEOPLE took this shot - holding their mobile phones above the 1.8m high exclusion barrier and sneaking a shot of the audience. However, I had a fisheye and a monopod to take this shot to include the screen, the audience AND the abbey - I liked the idea of taking a photo that everyone else was taking, but differently (see also : possibly the Ye Olde Fighting Cocks pub shot).
On Reflection : *Maybe * I should have taken this shot at night… but the fitness app on my phone already read that I’d walked OVER THIRTY NINE THOUSAND STEPS on the day…. this would have been a considerable additional walk in the evening, and I was already up til 2:30am editing and uploading photos (I had a premiere the next day, so all my photos were actually taken across about 10 hours, not the full 24 I had access to)

So… that was that. Having now done one of these competitions, I can already see where my mistakes were and how I’d approach one of these things in the future. I think the two things I’d definitely do would be (1) unified ‘style’ - use one lens, or one focal length, and (2) make each photo part of an overarching ‘theme’ - have things going on in the background of each one that also become part of an overall ‘story’.

I kind of wish I’d spent a bit more time planning and thinking, and I’m struck how (relatively) few changes I’d need to have made in my approach to have a collection of 24 shots I’d be a lot more proud of. But I loved doing this - it was a really cool challenge and I REALLY want to do something like this again!

And did I win anything? No, I didn’t, but I did get a compliment two days later from one of the judges - I was listed as an “other mention” with several other photographers. For mine it was:

“..for some striking, graphic, black and white images using a fish-eye lens”
- and, yeah… I should have used the fisheye for all of them instead of just 13 of the 24…

2019 - Trooping The Colour

June 8th, 2019.

A mere four’n’five days ago, London paid host to what historians will perhaps one day forget to refer to as the President of the United States and I managed to even snap a shot of the Beast (that’s POTUS’ car) and its occupant and some of the protests and protesters too.

But now it’s the weekend, and excitingly the weather cleared just in time for me to photograph my FOURTH Trooping The Colour (the others are here: 2016, 2017, 2018). Here’s how it went down:

When I head out for my morning coffee tomorrow, and face the inevitable barrage of screaming out-of-control kids in whatever cafe I choose to sit in, I want to be dressed like this. And I’ll leave it to you to decide whether that’s because of the soundproofing on the hat will dull the noise…. or whether it’s because of the machine gun… and the handy knife attachment at its tip.

When I head out for my morning coffee tomorrow, and face the inevitable barrage of screaming out-of-control kids in whatever cafe I choose to sit in, I want to be dressed like this. And I’ll leave it to you to decide whether that’s because of the soundproofing on the hat will dull the noise…. or whether it’s because of the machine gun… and the handy knife attachment at its tip.

“Yes, I’m trooping. And yes, I’m colour”  I’m pretty sure I photographed this gentleman last year. He doesn’t so much want to be photographed as kind of personally and pleadingly insist that you photograph him. He’s kind of the    anti-Scarlett Johansson    in every way, really.

“Yes, I’m trooping. And yes, I’m colour”
I’m pretty sure I photographed this gentleman last year. He doesn’t so much want to be photographed as kind of personally and pleadingly insist that you photograph him. He’s kind of the anti-Scarlett Johansson in every way, really.

“He said you look very pretty. But hey, I’ll leave it to you to decide whether that constitutes harrassment sufficiently that using your gun in retaliation is the appropriate way to deal with it”

“He said you look very pretty. But hey, I’ll leave it to you to decide whether that constitutes harrassment sufficiently that using your gun in retaliation is the appropriate way to deal with it”

“Yes, the white shirt I’m wearing underneath this is a humiliation that represents a complete failure on the part of my drycleaner, and/or girlfriend. Please don’t draw attention to it”

“Yes, the white shirt I’m wearing underneath this is a humiliation that represents a complete failure on the part of my drycleaner, and/or girlfriend. Please don’t draw attention to it”

The guy in the background is not sending last-minute texts to his pals. At least I don’t think so.

The guy in the background is not sending last-minute texts to his pals. At least I don’t think so.

“No, we don’t take requests, and no we’re not working off a spotify playlist”  It’s finally started, and fans of RnB will be disappointed right now.

“No, we don’t take requests, and no we’re not working off a spotify playlist”
It’s finally started, and fans of RnB will be disappointed right now.

When every single person in the line has an insect on their shoulder….

When every single person in the line has an insect on their shoulder….

“They’re letting me - and only me - Freestyle on this flute. And yes, that’s Run DMC you’re hearing”

“They’re letting me - and only me - Freestyle on this flute. And yes, that’s Run DMC you’re hearing”

Lesser Royals (who are still better people than you and me, obviously) travel to Horse Guards Palace by car, ahead of the carriage- and horse-based Senior royals yet to come.

Lesser Royals (who are still better people than you and me, obviously) travel to Horse Guards Palace by car, ahead of the carriage- and horse-based Senior royals yet to come.

“I just want you to know that I lobbied hard for DJ Impact to host the warmup for this event, but I was overruled in favour of pomp and ceremony. Again.”  Camilla Duchess of Cornwall sat on the right side of the carriage she was sharing with Kate, Harry and Meghan. Sadly that meant Kate was the only one of the four I didn’t really photograph. And while I respect Camilla’s Hip-Hop credentials, I do prefer to photograph Kate.

“I just want you to know that I lobbied hard for DJ Impact to host the warmup for this event, but I was overruled in favour of pomp and ceremony. Again.” Camilla Duchess of Cornwall sat on the right side of the carriage she was sharing with Kate, Harry and Meghan. Sadly that meant Kate was the only one of the four I didn’t really photograph. And while I respect Camilla’s Hip-Hop credentials, I do prefer to photograph Kate.

Giant hats, intermittent shade, a pollen count verging on the apocalyptic, and even on my two-step ladder I’ve got mobile phones and cameras I’m shooting through…. all that and there’s the matter of the carriage carrying these four royals is hightailing it down The Mall. It seems the Royals are running somewhat late.

Giant hats, intermittent shade, a pollen count verging on the apocalyptic, and even on my two-step ladder I’ve got mobile phones and cameras I’m shooting through…. all that and there’s the matter of the carriage carrying these four royals is hightailing it down The Mall. It seems the Royals are running somewhat late.

“See, babes? Black caps with the gold-brass letters ‘L.A.’ are totally IN this year “   Prince Harry and Meghan - the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

“See, babes? Black caps with the gold-brass letters ‘L.A.’ are totally IN this year “
Prince Harry and Meghan - the Duke and Duchess of Sussex.

“For next year, I’ve requested eight drums, twelve cymbals, and I’ll be riding an elephant…. or they can have my resignation”

“For next year, I’ve requested eight drums, twelve cymbals, and I’ll be riding an elephant…. or they can have my resignation”

“No, Frank! Don’t head into the light!!”

“No, Frank! Don’t head into the light!!”

Momentary panic as it appears the Queen’s carriage is either empty, or Her Majesty is attired in exactly the same clothing as the inside of a royal carriage. A bold move, either way.

Momentary panic as it appears the Queen’s carriage is either empty, or Her Majesty is attired in exactly the same clothing as the inside of a royal carriage. A bold move, either way.

“Well… you guys certainly aren’t observing any kind of coherent, unified or even semi-formal dress code”  The Queen emerges from the inside of the carriage she was already in. This is the first time (out of four times I’ve photographed this event) that she was in an enclosed carriage. Possibly a pollen thing?

“Well… you guys certainly aren’t observing any kind of coherent, unified or even semi-formal dress code” The Queen emerges from the inside of the carriage she was already in. This is the first time (out of four times I’ve photographed this event) that she was in an enclosed carriage. Possibly a pollen thing?

“And none of our rides has a single cup-holder”  Prince Andrew and Princess Margaret (I think?) at centre and right… possibly Prince William at left. (Correction : Princess ANNE, not Princess Margaret - with thanks to Andrew)

“And none of our rides has a single cup-holder”
Prince Andrew and Princess Margaret (I think?) at centre and right… possibly Prince William at left.
(Correction : Princess ANNE, not Princess Margaret - with thanks to Andrew)

“Okay, so with this window filter One can’t see out, but they can see in? Better than the alternative One supposes”

“Okay, so with this window filter One can’t see out, but they can see in? Better than the alternative One supposes”

With the Queen’s carriage having passed by, we shifted position to the left side of the park facing Horse Guard’s Palace. This is the hardest location from which to photograph, as not only is it four or five deep, crowd-wise, but the terrain slopes downwards from the front. Still…. it passes the time in the hour we have to shift location again before they shut the road down again.

There was a commotion and a horse threw its rider. I didn’t see what caused it or whether the guard was okay - he was carried off on a stretcher, unmoving, a short time later.

There was a commotion and a horse threw its rider. I didn’t see what caused it or whether the guard was okay - he was carried off on a stretcher, unmoving, a short time later.

“One told them One wanted to do donuts in this thing, but One thinks they misheard and sent a guy to get some.”

“One told them One wanted to do donuts in this thing, but One thinks they misheard and sent a guy to get some.”

“Traffic lights? Here? Seriously?”

“Traffic lights? Here? Seriously?”

“If Jason Momoa had accepted the invitation One wouldn’t be sitting in this carriage alone, that’s for sure…”

“If Jason Momoa had accepted the invitation One wouldn’t be sitting in this carriage alone, that’s for sure…”

“Oh, great. One left one’s bumper book of sudoku puzzles back in the carriage…”

“Oh, great. One left one’s bumper book of sudoku puzzles back in the carriage…”

Photography proved tricky even with a 300mm lens on the Pentax (450mm equivalent full-frame) so we shifted to our third location out of four. The main consideration wasn’t just to take more decent photos, but be in a good position for the opening of the gates to allow the public to walk along the Centre of the Mall towards the palace to photograph the Royals on the balcony. Sadly, I went conservative and stayed near the back, but this year unlike the prior two years it seemed they opened the gates at three different locations.

“I went to the drive through window and asked, but they said if the horse isn’t on wheels it can’t go through drive-thru, and they had nowhere to hitch a horse. I’ve got half of my morning croissant left, though, if Her Majesty is really hungry?”

“I went to the drive through window and asked, but they said if the horse isn’t on wheels it can’t go through drive-thru, and they had nowhere to hitch a horse. I’ve got half of my morning croissant left, though, if Her Majesty is really hungry?”

“Actually, when I’m not holding this gun and standing ready to point it where it’s required at a moment’s notice, you’ll find I’m a really nice person.”

“Actually, when I’m not holding this gun and standing ready to point it where it’s required at a moment’s notice, you’ll find I’m a really nice person.”

The crowd on the stairs is sadly missing That Guy from last year who had a giant banner that claimed Queen Elizabeth’s coming was foretold by the Bible. (As opposed to the published programme for Trooping The Colour, which is available online)

The crowd on the stairs is sadly missing That Guy from last year who had a giant banner that claimed Queen Elizabeth’s coming was foretold by the Bible. (As opposed to the published programme for Trooping The Colour, which is available online)

“Some of you want to capture photos, some of you video, some of you sounds…. but I’m after    smells.  ” I don’t know what that thing on the left is, but I fear it.

“Some of you want to capture photos, some of you video, some of you sounds…. but I’m after smells.
I don’t know what that thing on the left is, but I fear it.

“Yes, of course I’m dressed totally inconspicuously. Why?”

“Yes, of course I’m dressed totally inconspicuously. Why?”

The Royals once again slam on the gas and hightail it up The Mall, this time to the palace.

The Royals once again slam on the gas and hightail it up The Mall, this time to the palace.

“No Frank, don’t head towards the light!!”

“No Frank, don’t head towards the light!!”

“You had up to ninety minutes to change into something more appropriate and you changed into THAT?”  The stitching on the Queen’s jacket and hat is quite the thing to see (or zoom closer at, if the police with the machine guns haven’t convinced you that there’s a distance within which you should not step)

“You had up to ninety minutes to change into something more appropriate and you changed into THAT?”
The stitching on the Queen’s jacket and hat is quite the thing to see (or zoom closer at, if the police with the machine guns haven’t convinced you that there’s a distance within which you should not step)

“If only that electric scooter One ordered from ebay had come in yesterday, One certainly wouldn’t have to be sitting here….”

“If only that electric scooter One ordered from ebay had come in yesterday, One certainly wouldn’t have to be sitting here….”

More height than my stepstool, but could I balance myself, two cameras, a backpack, and a Ricoh Theta on a monopod while standing there? Probably not.

More height than my stepstool, but could I balance myself, two cameras, a backpack, and a Ricoh Theta on a monopod while standing there? Probably not.

Final location change : zooming up The Mall to try to get as far forward and central to the balcony. However, there’s only so far (and so fast) I’ll go in my pursuits : one of my friends went further and actually got a spot ON HIS LADDER, central and opposite the balcony. I did not manage this.

Final location change : zooming up The Mall to try to get as far forward and central to the balcony. However, there’s only so far (and so fast) I’ll go in my pursuits : one of my friends went further and actually got a spot ON HIS LADDER, central and opposite the balcony. I did not manage this.

“So does it bother anyone else here that all our photos are going to look more or less the same? Because it bothers me!”  Those are some serious zooms there.

“So does it bother anyone else here that all our photos are going to look more or less the same? Because it bothers me!” Those are some serious zooms there.

“Nice to see you all, and nice to see that the spikes on the front gate continue to serve their function in dissuading anyone from getting closer”

“Nice to see you all, and nice to see that the spikes on the front gate continue to serve their function in dissuading anyone from getting closer”

Well… I was kind of close to the front, just like a couple of thousand other people were.

Well… I was kind of close to the front, just like a couple of thousand other people were.

“But if I think Thanos had some good ideas, does that make me a bad possible future ruler, or just a really good environmentalist?”   While I ponder that, I also want to spend some time pondering whether The Queen’s hat is meant to be that shape from that angle, or whether my lens has a serious defect I need to have looked at.

“But if I think Thanos had some good ideas, does that make me a bad possible future ruler, or just a really good environmentalist?”
While I ponder that, I also want to spend some time pondering whether The Queen’s hat is meant to be that shape from that angle, or whether my lens has a serious defect I need to have looked at.

“One has suddenly decided that One is cool with going back inside and watching the rest on the television, if you all want to join me?”

“One has suddenly decided that One is cool with going back inside and watching the rest on the television, if you all want to join me?”

“One is the Queen and One is very busy : NOBODY spoil Game of Thrones for me. Or Breaking Bad. Or Deadwood, come to think of it”

“One is the Queen and One is very busy : NOBODY spoil Game of Thrones for me. Or Breaking Bad. Or Deadwood, come to think of it”

“So do they also have to pay the congestion charge?”

“So do they also have to pay the congestion charge?”

Amongst all the crowds, I managed to set my Ricoh Theta to autofire at the scintillating interval-shooting speed of 1 frame every 8 seconds (that’s its maximum!) - Amazingly I got the Red Arrows on approach….

Amongst all the crowds, I managed to set my Ricoh Theta to autofire at the scintillating interval-shooting speed of 1 frame every 8 seconds (that’s its maximum!) - Amazingly I got the Red Arrows on approach….

“So… why are we drawing the flag of France in the sky for the Queen’s Birthday? Has anyone asked?” ”No, because it’s more like the flag of the Netherlands and because drawing the Union Jack would be really REALLY difficult” ”Oh, okay”

“So… why are we drawing the flag of France in the sky for the Queen’s Birthday? Has anyone asked?”
”No, because it’s more like the flag of the Netherlands and because drawing the Union Jack would be really REALLY difficult”
”Oh, okay”

Eight seconds later, the Theta takes another shot….

Eight seconds later, the Theta takes another shot….

“Wait.. I didn’t get the shot. Could you go past again??”

“Wait.. I didn’t get the shot. Could you go past again??”

“It’s funny that you’re all singing it wrong. One has always sung it “God Save The Me” ”

“It’s funny that you’re all singing it wrong. One has always sung it “God Save The Me” ”

“Anyway, it’s been great. One is going inside now. You can all leave. Pick up your horses from where you parked them and get gone. One won’t ask twice.”

“Anyway, it’s been great. One is going inside now. You can all leave. Pick up your horses from where you parked them and get gone. One won’t ask twice.”

“Yes, you guys over there can clear out too. Don’t make One come down there., ‘cause One will. Or One’s servants will. Or the guys with the guns who’ve sworn personal loyalty to One will”

“Yes, you guys over there can clear out too. Don’t make One come down there., ‘cause One will. Or One’s servants will. Or the guys with the guns who’ve sworn personal loyalty to One will”

“But you guys can stay. You’re all right”  Well… I’m heading for the pub, myself. And not any of the nearest fifty, because that’s there 95% of this crowd will probably be heading.

“But you guys can stay. You’re all right”
Well… I’m heading for the pub, myself. And not any of the nearest fifty, because that’s there 95% of this crowd will probably be heading.

“Does anyone remember where we parked our horse?”

“Does anyone remember where we parked our horse?”

So, that was that. It was fun, possibly slightly less successful than last year overall, but I had good Nikon, a lens with more reach than last year on the Pentax, AND a camera with 360-degree field of view. And I found a nice pub afterwards to while away a few hours.

Until next time? Hard to say.