The annual chariot festival where the Hare Krishna pull their three giant chariots along Piccadilly from Hyde Park and on to Trafalgar Square first came to London in the 1980s, and I’ve photographed it several times. But it has now settled into a rather similar pattern each year and I found it hard to really find anything new this year. This year’s pictures are here.

Last year was the 25th procession here, and perhaps attracted a few more people, as the numbers seemed a little smaller this year than in previous years.  The three large chariots, each with a Hindu god or goddess, were much as before, so while I took some pictures of them I tried to concentrate more on the smaller parts of the event and on the people.

© 2010, Peter Marshall

As usual when the sun came out from behind the clouds I used some fill flash, and had some problems with it. The D7oo on the right settings usually works with fill at any shutter speed, though the manual is more than normally opaque about this. However with the SB800  which I was using, with custom setting e1 at 1/320s (Auto FP) when a faster shutter speed is selected in exposure mode P or A “auto FP high speed sync will be activated if the actual shutter speed is higher than 1/320“. Usually this just works, but today it had given up, and only parts of the frame got the flash exposure. Some of them can be be salvaged in processing  with Lightroom’s graduated filter or local adjustment brush, but its a pain to have to do it. I’ll post an example from later in the day in another post.

I probably should have noticed the uneven exposure on the camera screen while taking the pictures, but most of the time the lighting was too bright to see them properly, and I just took a quick glance at the histogram to see if everything was ok – and of course it was.

When I did see the problem on the computer screen later, I wasn’t sure if it was a camera fault or a flash fault and though I knew I needed to sort it out, there were other more urgent things to do.  When I finally got round to doing some tests I started with the same camera, flash and lens and found everything was working perfectly!

Actually whenever I have flash problems and run tests I get the same results – its only in the field that the system sometimes misbehaves. And I think the problem is mainly the photographer, or occasionally a dirty contact. When you fit the flash working in a hurry it is too easy not to slide it fully into place, and although there is a lock, it perhaps isn’t quite as positive as it might be and I do sometimes fail to push it right across. Then looking carefully at the hot shoe it isn’t as clean as it might be, though perhaps putting the flash on again for the test may have cleaned the contacts enough to make a difference.

But it appears to be good news, and I can avoid another expensive repair (the only kind there is for photo gear.)  I’ve taken my glass fibre contact cleaning brush to both flash and hot-shoe to be sure there isn’t a dirt problem and added checking these to the list of occasional tasks to do to keep the gear working, and made a mental note to push the flash on firmly and check I’ve engaged the lock fully in future.

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