Although I’ve photographed a lot of religious events I still sometimes find them a problem. It has nothing to do with the actual beliefs held by the people I’m photographing, but more about feeling that I am intruding on something private.

It’s something I seem to feel more strongly with Christians, and also it is only with Christians that I’ve had people object to being photographed.   So while I can go into a Gurdwara and be told “photograph anything you like“, in some churches I’ve been told I can only take pictures when the worship is over.

So on Saturday I wasn’t quite sure what reaction I would get when I went to photograph the March of Repentance, but in fact I was made welcome by the stewards running the event.  Even so, I felt the need to work with somewhat more reserve than normal when photographing the groups of people praying – they didn’t object, but I just felt a little uncomfortable at times, and ended up taking considerably more at longer focal lengths than normal for me.

© 2009 Peter Marshall.

This was with the 24-70mm at its long end, and I took two versions, one focussed on the closer hand and the second with the woman at right sharp. Both actually work quite well, though I prefer this, with the woman slightly unsharp.

Of course, where longer lenses really come into their own is for pictures like this:

© 2009 Peter Marshall.

Using the D300 with the Sigma 70-210 gives a an effective 105-315mm, and this was taken from just outside a small ring of people praying, with an equivalent focal length of 270mm.

As always at events, you need to try and think what is going to happen, as well as concentrating on what is actually happening and thinking how to solve the visual problems involved. The guy standing at the front of the march holding a ram’s horn was obviously at some point going to blow it, so I made sure to be there when he did. What I hadn’t expected was that instead of just sounding the Shofar, he was going to blow it into a megaphone. It’s perhaps something that sounds better in USA-speak when that electrical device is called a bullhorn.

© 2009 Peter Marshall

It isn’t the greatest picture I’ve ever taken (and I think I could do a little dodging and burning to improve it ) but I think it records a key moment, and I was surprised I was the only photographer among several there to be in a suitable position to take it.

More about the event and more pictures on My London Diary.

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