Feathers Everywhere

Although I’d felt in my bag for the 10.5mm earlier in the day and found it wasn’t there, it was really at the last event of the day that I missed it.

It would be easy to dismiss World Pillow Fight Day as a bit of fluff, and probably correct to do so, but it is rather a fun event, and it’s good to get stuck in there whether with a pillow or a camera. One of the few rules is that those taking part are not to hit photographers, but given the chaos that erupts, this is impossible, though some people did apologise after having realised they had attacked me. But if you don’t want to get hit you really need to keep our of the crowd, and where’s the fun in that whether you are wielding camera or pillow.

Certainly in some earlier years there was also a rule that feather pillows were not allowed, but this too is one that has never been adhered to, and the air was soon thick with feathers and dust, as many of the pillows split, and we were dragging our feet through a few inches of pillow fillings across much of the centre of Trafalgar Square.

It was a close and personal occasion, and although I had both Nikons around my neck, the only one I used was the D700 with the 16-35mm, and almost all taken at its widest. There really was very little time to think or to frame, let alone to zoom as the action got going, and despite the sunny afternoon I was using a fairly high ISO 1250 to to get both sufficient depth of field at close working distances and also to stop the fairly extreme motion. Typically the pictures were taken at around 1/1000 at f11, but I was using both autofocus and auto-exposure.

I put my flash away inside my bag – it wasn’t needed and would be rather vulnerable to damage by pillows when sitting on the hot shoe. Flash isn’t too useful at very short range although there might be some nice effects with it lighting up the feathers in the air, the sun was doing quite a good job.

I did lose the lens hood from the 18-105mm in the melée, but fortunately replacements come cheap on eBay, and are at least as good as the genuine Nikon item that costs around ten times as much. You can find them advertised at from a little under £2 post free to almost £40, and I think there is no difference between them.  They are all fairly flimsy plastic and all fit the poorly designed bayonet on the Nikon lens.

More than two weeks later, I’m still finding feathers in the pockets of the clothes I wore and in odd places in my camera bag. You can see a few more too in the pictures of the event at Feathers Fly in Trafalgar Square.

After half an hour or so, the dust from the feathers and kapok was making my throat very dry and I felt I’d taken enough pictures. It was a good excuse to make my way to a nearby pub along with a photographer friend and relax a little before going home.


My London Diary : Buildings of London : River Lea/Lee Valley : London’s Industrial Heritage

All photographs on this and my other sites, unless otherwise stated are by Peter Marshall and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

To order prints or reproduce images


Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.