Another Night

The following evening I was out again taking pictures of a protest, this time in Westminster at Old Palace Yard, opposite the Houses of Parliament. It’s a gloomy place at night, and even worse it was raining.

At times the rain was light, even almost stopping. Then it would poor down. I felt sorry for the protesters, from Disabled People Against Cuts and Black Triangle, including many in wheelchairs, though I think most had decent waterproof clothing and a number also umbrellas.

Of course I had an umbrella too, but it is seldom practical to use one when taking pictures – unless you have an assistant to hold it – and also I needed to work most of the time in a very restricted area between a ring of wheelchairs and the speakers, much of the time in a kneeling position so as not to impede the view of those sitting in the chairs. Occasionally sitting on the damp paving stones. Working with a micro-fibre cloth held on the lens filter, taking it away to take a picture, then wiping and covering up the lens again.

Most of these were taken with the LED light source, with a couple at the start of the event when there was still some weak light from the sky without any added light. Another photographer was videoing the event, and sometimes his LED video light lit up part or all of the scene for me – though other times it shone directly towards me and made taking pictures more or less impossible. I did take a couple of pictures with flash, but in rain it gets to be pretty useless, lighting up the rain drops and giving odd spots across the picture. With exposures around 1/15s to 1/60s spots of rain don’t show up except sometimes as streaks – which look very much like rain. But with the slow shutter speeds and probably a certain amount of shivering from me quite a few of the exposures were blurred even when there were no raindrops on the lens, and quite a few frames were unusable.

I also discovered one of the problems of the Neewer CN-216 LED light. It doesn’t have a battery cover – or at least mine doesn’t, and at one point after it got a slight knock, all 6 batteries fell out and rolled across the wet paving stones. Fortunately I and some of the other people around managed to pick them up, but now I put a length of masking tape across them and the back of the unit after replacing the batteries.

As the evening went on the rain worsened. There was quite a long list of speakers, including the Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, for whom the heavens opened pretty drastically. Fortunately he had brought fellow Labour MP Rebecca Long-Bailey with him to hold an umbrella. They and other MPs came out from the debate on government plants for a cut in Employment and Support Allowance, despite a UN report condemning the ‘grave and systematic violations of disabled people’s rights’ which had resulted from the UK government welfare reforms..

It was really an evening that called for an underwater camera, or at least an underwater housing. I do carry a cheap plastic bag affair in my camera bag, but find it such a pain that I hardly ever use it. Fortunately I managed to keep the cameras under my coat much of the time, though having the front of it open to do this meant I did get rather wet. I was cold too, and very pleased when I could pack up and go home.

I wasn’t particularly happy with my work at this event – and so many of the images were ruined – but under the circumstances I felt I’d done a decent job to get any results at all. You can see more at End Discriminatory Welfare Reforms.


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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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