I have decided to spend a little time going through the archives and sharing some shots from previous years. This is one of my favourites from 2009 and was a fantastic event to cover, I can still vividly recall the thundering of the hooves charging past and the smell of gunpowder. It was a visual feast and I came away with some pleasing shots which of course makes it even more worth the while.
I also enjoyed my ride on a golf cart that night as the Queen’s Assistant Chief Steward gave me a lift across the grounds of Windsor Castle to the Showground which was one of the most unusual little journeys I have taken in recent years. He was a very chatty gentleman and told me a little bit about the event along the way before dropping me off at the press tent where the equestrian photographers were polishing off their shots from the day’s racing, made me ponder over how I could get into such things being located close to Ascot. They had massive 800mm lenses though and my budget won’t stretch quite that far for a little while to come!
Techically it was challenging, as I had no idea what the setup would be like, whether to take my 500mm and a monopod or not. The problem is my 500mm isn’t a f2.8 and in low light is about as useless as a car with no headlights after dark. So I took the risk in taking my trusty 70-200mm f2.8, a favourite of mine that has never let me down in concert photography. My fears were alleviated when we were shown into the press area, we had the run of the sidelines just behind a wooden barrier that separated us from the danger of being trampled to death. We had a great view of the action and it was a heck of a lot closer than I imagined it would be – to the point my lens was almost too long at some points and was quite a weird sensation to see the horses charging towards you at high speed, I felt as if I were in the thick of the action, I found myself wrestling with my manual focus and taking a few steps backwards towards the audience behind me which did cause one gentleman to complain…. they were all very gentlemanly and gentlewomanly there! I offered my apologies and took up a different position but you do get involved with your shots when it is happening at high speed, the camera engaged in high speed burst mode and the CF card is being stretched to the limits. It is this kind of thing that makes me feel alive.
Embarassingly I am scared of bangs, so when one of the guns went off, I nearly jumped out of my pants and then quickly regained composure to capture the gunpowder, smoke and atmospheric lighting. I couldn’t be a war photographer, too much of a coward!