Category Archives: Re-enactments

Return to the Crich Tramway Museum 1940s Event, August 2017

It’s hard to believe that it was August 2011 when I last visited the National Tramway Museum at Crich in Derbyshire.  I was genuinely surprised to discover that I had not been to this event for six years but that is how long it has been.  So much has changed for me personally during that time, so it is reassuring to discover that the event itself has changed very little, with many familiar faces to be seen, and the familiar surroundings which provide an excellent supporting role for these 1940s events.

Last time I visited this event, I was still shooting with my trusty Canon 5D, now lovingly refered to on some internet forums as the “5D Classic”.  The 5D was my first full-frame camera and it was remarkable in that it always outperformed what the specification sheet would suggest it could achieve.  With “only” 12 megapixels and “only” 9 focusing points (and only 1 that could be relied on), the spec would appear quite basic compared to today’s cameras but somehow it always seemed to deliver, a testament to the quality of the sensor.

Perhaps more surprising for the event back in 2011 was my choice of lens.  I always enjoy the challenge of using one camera and one lens when I am out shooting, and on that occasion my lens of choice was the excellent but heavy Sigma 300mm F/2.8, not a typical lens choice that you might associate with this type of event!  You can see the results I got from this combo on my website here.

Fast forward six years, and I have now switched over to Fujifilm cameras and lenses, my Canon gear having all been sold recently.  Why the change?  Several reasons really, a smaller and lighter kitbag being a major one, together with changing eyesight which meant that I can no longer view images on the back of a camera and determine if they were sharp or not.  The electronic viewfinders on my Fujifilm cameras are brilliant for showing me exactly what result to expect before the shot, and what results I did get after the shot, including zoomed in at 100%.

My camera and lens of choice this time around was the Fujifilm X-Pro2 camera and the Fujinon XF 90mm F/2 lens.  The X-Pro2 is the first camera since my original 5D to give me that same feeling of being in full control of the picture taking process.  I find it an absolute joy to use and the results are exactly what I would hope for from a modern camera.  The fact that Fujifilm jpegs are so good straight out of the camera, means that I spend far less time post-processing my images too, another huge bonus.

The XF 90mm F/2 lens is my favourite amongst the X series lenses that I have bought to date.  It is tack sharp wide open at F/2, and I especially enjoy the rendering of this lens, with the seperation between the subject and background being particularly pleasing to my eye.  It’s also reasonably small and light, certainly in comparison to lenses that I have typically used in the past, and the focusing is very fast and accurate when paired with the X-Pro2.

All the images below were taken using the X-Pro2 and the 90mm wide open at F/2.  All were shot as Jpegs in camera using Fujifilm’s built-in Acros Film Simulation with Green Filter setting.  That just left me with minor adjustments and cropping to do in Lightroom to tidy them up.

To see all the pictures I took at this event, please check out my website gallery here.

I hope you enjoy them.

Geoff

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Fame at Last!

So I appeared very briefly on BBC TV’s “Inside Out East Midlands” this evening during a feature about “dark tourism”, e.g. visiting battlefields and such like – thanks to Mick Rockett for spotting me as I appeared for about 2 seconds right near the end…

Caught at BosworthThat’s me in the blue jumper at the Bosworth Battlefield re-enactment last August.  Notice I have my usual happy smiley face on, dark tourism indeed!

Geoff

 

A Day at the Victory Show 2013

This was my first visit to The Victory Show, which takes place just outside Cosby in Leicestershire.  Now in its eighth year, the show took place on an extensive 100 acre site and promised a wide variety of WWII tanks and armoured vehicles, a large number of re-enactment groups and an impressive flying display of planes from the period.

American GI waits for the battle to begin, The Victory Show 2013

American GI waits for the battle to begin, The Victory Show 2013

The mix of static displays, living history encampments (including authentic looking trenches and other scenarios), together with set-piece battle re-enactments and a historic airshow meant that there was plenty to see and enjoy and lots of photographic opportunities.

American M3 Half-Track, part of the Italian front scenario, The Victory Show 2013

American M3 Half-Track, part of the Italian front scenario, The Victory Show 2013

I actually missed the set-piece battle on the main field in the afternoon as I was at the opposite end of the site and somewhat distracted while talking to a lovely lady from one of the large re-enactment groups.  However, I did manage to catch a little of the morning skirmish and most of the flying displays.

Soviet T34/85 MBT, The Victory Show 2013

Soviet T34/85 MBT and Passengers salute the crowd, The Victory Show 2013

I enjoyed looking round the static displays very much and everyone I talked to was really friendly which for someone like me is a real bonus as I sometimes have trouble approaching people to engage with them.

A couple of familiar characters perhaps?, The Victory Show 2013

A couple of familiar characters perhaps?, The Victory Show 2013

The highlight of the flying display for me was the North American B-25 Mitchell bomber.  The sight and, just as important, the sound of this rare vintage plane flying low over the airstrip and then performing various manoeuvres to show off its capabilities was a real treat for everyone who was there.

North American B-25 Mitchell Bomber, The Victory Show 2013

North American B-25 Mitchell Bomber, The Victory Show 2013

If the B-25 was the highlight, the supporting cast wasn’t far behind.  We were treated to a magnificent display of WWII fighter planes including the Carolyn Grace Spitfire…

The Carolyn Grace Spitfire, The Victory Show 2013

The Carolyn Grace Spitfire, The Victory Show 2013

Hawker Hurricane…

Hawker Hurricane, The Victory Show 2013

Hawker Hurricane, The Victory Show 2013

P51 Mustang…

American P51 Mustang, The Victory Show 2013

American P51 Mustang, The Victory Show 2013

and the Yakovlev Yak 11…

Yakovlev YAK-11, The Victory Show 2013

Yakovlev YAK-11, The Victory Show 2013

The Red Arrows display team also made a brief but memorable appearance…

The Red Arraws Flypast, The Victory Show 2013

The Red Arraws Flypast, The Victory Show 2013

I have included a few of my favourites from the day in this post, the remainder of my photos from the day can be found on my website here.

Geoff

 

 

Battle of Bosworth Anniversary Re-enactment August 2013

Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

Call me a coward but in real life I will do almost anything to avoid conflict and confrontation.  So why is it that I am regularly drawn to photograph these historic battle re-enactments, you might ask?  A good question, one that I occasionally ask myself!

Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

The answer of course is very simple.  These are wonderful events to photograph, the sight and sound of men and women marching into battle, the sound and smell of the gunfire, the beauty of the horses, the vibrant colours of the uniforms, the clanking of the armour, the sound of metal on metal as the army’s engage in hand to hand combat – wonderful!

Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

So it was I found myself at Bosworth Battlefield in Leicestershire for the anniversary battle re-enactment, one of my favourite events of the year.  The Battle of Bosworth on 22nd August  1485 is where Richard III lost not only the battle but also his life.  His Yorkist army was defeated by the Lancastrians led by Henry Tudor (Henry VII) and this defeat effectively ended the wars of the roses.  Henry was the first of the Tudors and he ruled until his death in 1509, after which he was succeeded by his second son, Henry VIII.

Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

Of course there was much more to see at Bosworth than just the re-enactment battle itself, although that was the main set-piece event.  A full timetable of events took place throughout the day including a re-enactment of the Battle of Tewkesbury in the morning.

Mounted Skills at Arms - Capturing the Ring - Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

Mounted Skills at Arms – Capturing the Ring – Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

There was also a display of mounted skills at arms with riders, both men and women, pitting their skills against a variety of targets while on horseback.

Mounted Skills at Arms - Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

Mounted Skills at Arms – Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

A first for Bosworth and for me too was a display entitled “Battle of the Nations”.  This comprised a number of skirmishes, in a makeshift arena, in which two or more heavily armoured men armed with swords and shields fought each other in a carefully controlled but  brutal battle to put their opponent on the floor.

Battle of the Nations - Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

Battle of the Nations – Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

The fighting was fast and furious in a gladiator style, the fighters laden down with all their heavy armour including heavily constructed helmets and visors.

Battle of the Nations - A Fighter takes a breather after losing his helmet - Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

Battle of the Nations – A Fighter takes a breather after losing his helmet – Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

I can only imagine how incredibly hot and physically draining it must have been to take part in this type of battle but it certainly made for some entertaining action for the many spectators around the Bosworth main arena.

Battle of the Nations - No holds barred - Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

Battle of the Nations – No holds barred – Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

Another popular attraction is the jousting tournament.  This spectacular and occasionally dangerous pastime much loved by the knights of old is one of the highlights of the afternoon programme.  The aim of the riders is to break your own lance on the shield of your opponent and points are scored for the accuracy of the hits and the amount of damage to your lance.

Jousting Tournament - Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

Jousting Tournament – Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

This year’s tournament ended in quite a spectacular but unexpected fashion when, on the very last pass of the day, the safety fence between the horses appeared to blow over as seen below.  To the best of my knowledge, both horses and riders thankfully escaped without injury but I’m sure the event organisers will want to review what happened before next year’s event.

Jousting Tournament - just as the fence collapsed - Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

Jousting Tournament – just as the fence collapsed – Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

There were also some impressive birds of prey demonstrations throughout the day but I will save those photos for a separate post.  The main event was the anniversary battle re-enactment itself with Richard III leading his Yorkist army into battle for the last time against the Lancastrians led by Henry Tudor.

King Richard III addresses his troops one last time - Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

King Richard III addresses his troops one last time – Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

A minute’s silence preceded the battle as always to remember all those who fought and died in the Wars of the Roses.  Then the battle commenced and once more it didn’t disappoint.

Calm before the battle - Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

Calm before the battle – Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

As mentioned earlier, for photographers like myself, these events have everything you could wish for – colour, action, movement, drama, scale, atmosphere, sometimes a little humour but always a real feeling of witnessing something rather special right in front of you.

Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

Attempting to capture all these elements in still pictures is the challenge of course and it is not without difficulties.  These battles are often unpredictable and the number of spectators dictates that you have to pick the spot where you are going to stand well in advance and stay they for the duration of the battle, come what may.

Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

The problem comes when you find yourself in the wrong place, because the battle moved to the other end of the arena, or it passed you by quickly and left you looking only at the backs of everyone involved.  This is a familiar scenario for me as this very thing happened to me only recently at Kelmarsh earlier this year during the Wars of the Roses battle.  if you find yourself in the wrong place there’s very little you can do except hope that they come back to you!

Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

Bosworth Battlefield Anniversary Re-enactment 2013

Once again I had a brilliant day at Bosworth, credit must go to all the organisers and all the re-enactment groups who took part in the event for making it a day to remember.

Hopefully my photos managed to capture some of the drama and colour of the day, I know I’m reasonably happy with them.   I realise these photos may not be “real life” enough for some people’s eyes but maybe that’s one of the big attractions to me of photographing this type of event – a little bit of escape from “real life”.

The rest of my photos from the day (over 400 of them) can be found on my website here.

Remember, whatever your chosen subject, enjoy your photography!

Geoff

 

 

 

Not The Festival Of History – History Live! Kelmarsh Hall, July 2013

So, a change of name for this showpiece event in the English Heritage calendar, no longer the “Festival of History”, now “History Live!”.  On the face of it, that was just about the only change of note to this excellent event.  It was, to this paying customer at least, the same Festival of History as in previous years, just with a different name.  One other change I did notice, there was no First World War trench display this year although I am told this will return in 2014 as one of many events planned to mark the centenary of the start of the Great War.

What a difference a year makes.  This time last year I remember blogging about how this event, along with many others, had been cancelled due to the wettest summer for a hundred years.    Fast forward twelve months and the UK is enjoying (if that’s the right expression…) a heat wave such as we haven’t seen for many years.  Here in Northamptonshire we have hardly seen a drop of rain for almost four weeks and with clear blue skies and temperatures in the mid to high 20s Celsius every day for the past three weeks the ground is starting to look quite parched and brown in many places.

In the event, the weekend weather turned out to be not the clear blue skies and souring temperatures of the previous few days but much cooler, cloudier and quite overcast at times.  I can imagine this would a great relief to the re-enactors in their uniforms, many of which include both chain mail and/or heavy armour, not to mention helmets, weapons and various other pieces of kit which required to represent the chosen period with authenticity.

Regular readers of this blog will know that “cloudy bright” is my very favourite lighting for outdoor people photography, the clouds forming a massive diffuser to spread the light evenly over the subject without creating harsh shadows or highlights.  In particular, photographing people wearing hats can be especially problematic in strong sunlight due to the harsh shadows created under the brim.  In these conditions I usually resort to fill-flash (which is so easy with modern cameras) to avoid hard shadows obscurring the eyes.

On the Saturday, the light was actually rather poor for much of the day.  I shoot Aperture Priority (Av on Canon DSLRs) almost all of the time so I have full control over depth of field.  However, I had to constantly keep an eye on my shutter speed and subsequently adjust the ISO upwards if it started to fall below 1/320 second (I was using my trusty EF 80-200mm MDP lens for the event and 1/250 is absolutely the slowest shutter speed I want to go with this lens unless deliberately panning).  I also took the Canon 40mm “pancake” lens for the wider shots.  It’s a great little lens with surprising performance for something so tiny.

Below is a small selection of the photos I took on the day, including the Hawker Hurricane flypast.  I have just started uploading some of my other photos from this event to my website here.

The Great Central Railway 1940s Wartime Weekend 2013

Here’s just a few of my favourite photos from the 1940s event last weekend at the Great Central Railway in Leicestershire.  As usual, I went with my good friend Barry on the Saturday, to be honest I was feeling a little tired after a long day at my sister-in-law’s wedding the day before.

As soon as we arrived we were immediately aware that it was going to be a busy day with lots of people having turned out to see the event.  I had decided the night before to take just my longer lens (Canon 80-200mm MDP) and leave my standard zoom (28-70mm) at home.  The longer zoom is perfect for head & shoulders portraits and I also had in mind the possibility of a fly-past at some point in the day but this turned out to be only on the Sunday.

The problem with taking only the longer lens, is that it requires a certain distance between the photographer and subject in order to get good framing and a little bit of variation in composition.

Now this is fine as long as there are not too many people and other photographers about but can be a bit tricky when there are lots of people around and lots of photographers with shorter lenses trying to get the same shot as me but from a closer range.  On the positive side, the longer lens can be used to “isolate” the subject from the surroundings and can also provide a more diffused background than with a standard zoom.

I have posted the best of my photos from the 2013 event on my website here

Geoff

It’s almost here! Great Central Railway 1940s Weekend 2013

One of my favourite events of the year is happening this weekend – 7th, 8th and 9th June 2013.  The 1940s event at the Great Central Railway in 2007 was one of the very first re-enactment events that I ever went to and this event is still one of the highlights of my photography calendar.

I shall hopefully be posting photos from this year’s event in due course but before I do that I just wanted to show you the 2013 Great Central Railway Timetable and also the Wartime Weekend Flyer, both of which feature one of my photos on the front cover, the young soldier and the land army girl looking out of the railway carriage window.

GO-Blog-20130606-1

Great Central Railway Timetable and Wartime Weekend Flyer 2013

I’m really pleased to see this photo taking pride of place on the front of these two brochures, I just hope I can take some photos of a similar quality over the coming weekend.  This shot was the best of a series of similar shots that I took just as the train was arriving at Rothley Station.

Here’s the original in case you missed it before:

"Young Lovers In Wartime" A young soldier and land army girl in 1940s costume

“Young Lovers In Wartime” A young soldier and land army girl in 1940s costume

***Update***Photos from the 2013 1940s event have been posted here

My photos from the GCR 1940s event in 2012 can still be seen here, and from the 2011 event here.

Photos from the first event I covered, back in 2007, can still be found here

Have a great weekend!

Geoff