Fuji X in the wet

I’d rushed away from the procession for Our Lady of Mount Carmel in Clerkenwell, down the road to Farringdon station and on the tube to Brixton where the workers at the Ritzy Cinema were picketing the cinema in their campaign for a living wage.

But when I got to Brixton, there was a crowd blocking the exit as torrential rain was coming down outside. I stood with the others just inside the station watching with surprise what was really an unusual cloudburst. After five or ten minutes the sky got just a little lighter and the rain slackened off a little to heavy and I thought it was clearing. With quite a few others I put up my umbrella (there is always a folding one in my camera bag – except when I take it out to use and forget to put it back after drying) I struck out towards the Ritzy – just a short tread away.

It was still raining when I arrived, and the protesters holding the banner outside were wet; those without umbrellas were soaked. At least they left the big tree when they redesigned Windrush Square a few years back to try and stop people hanging out there, making it a bleak and inhospitable place. And I made for it, only to find the rain was as bad under it as not, dripping down from the sodden canopy above.

I don’t like working in the rain, but I’d thought it might make for some interesting pictures, and I think I was right. But the rain came on again, as heavy as before. I started taking pictures one-handed, holding the umbrella in the other. Autofocus takes care of focusing, but changing the focal length is another problem, involving holding the lens to the hand holding the umbrella to use it to push the zoom ring round. It’s easier to do this without trying to look through the viewfinder, looking at the focal lengths on the scale, or you can find the rain dripping from one of the umbrella spines down your neck as you accidentally tilt the umbrella as you twist the ring.

My umbrella at top left

The umbrella is ok when using a telephoto, but with a wideangle it does tend to creep into a corner of the frame as you take pictures. And forget it with a fisheye, but in any case it isn’t easy to change lenses without an extra hand. I had two cameras with me, both Fujis, with the X-T1 with the 18-55 zoom and the X-E1 with the 14mm. The X-T1 is supposed to be weather resistant, but neither lens is, and the bag I was carrying the kit in is not that waterproof either. Most of it was around my neck in any case, though the 8mm fisheye was in the bag and stayed there.

The rain came down heavier still. Not just cats and dogs but horses too. Even under the umbrella it was raining, with a fine mist of small drops spraying through as the larger drops stormed down from above. I was getting wet. I moved back under the tree, and was still getting wet.

It had been bright and sunny when I came out, and hot. The forecast was for it to get hotter, with no mention of rain, and I hadn’t brought a coat. But now the temperature had dropped perhaps 10 degrees – Centigrade – and I was both wet and cold. My shirt was getting damp from the spray through the brolly and lower down my trousers were wet from the top of my legs down, soaked by the knees and below. The rain was slowly filling up my shoes too, and I was squelching as I walked. But the pickets were standing there – some without umbrellas, and I thought if they can do it so can I.

Eventually it did ease off, and finally it even stopped raining. By then Acre Lane was in flood, the stream running along its gutter too wide to jump, but it soon went down. As the rain eased, a man turned up with his pans, and along with the couple of drummers who had been playing in the rain we got some live music, and people began to dance. It began to look like it was going to be a fine evening, both in terms of weather and in the atmosphere around the picket, but it was also around time for me to go home.

I think I was right about the weather making for some more interesting images – well at least they were different –  although of course this was very much down to the spirit shown by the strikers. Both Fuji cameras and the two lenses seemed to put up with a bit of rain – and I got none of the misting up that can often be a problem with the Nikon lenses – down in part to the heavy lumps of glass in the 16-35 and the vigorous pumping action of the 18-195 zoom, though that might have been down to the particular quirks of the weather.

Both cameras coped pretty well with this event, and I’m beginning to feel more confident with using them at least where no fast-moving action is likely to be important. I’m hoping that the Fuji wide-angle zoom will come down a bit in price shortly. Unfortunately the £200 cashback offer from Fuji for buying two lenses excludes the only other Fuji lens I’m thinking of buying to make up a versatile kit.

Text and pictures at Ritzy workers strike for Living Wage.


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 taken by and copyright of Peter Marshall, and are available for reproduction or can be bought as prints.

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