Against Terror

When I arrived for the Vigil Against Terror called by London Mayor Sadiq Khan as it was about to start, Trafalgar Square was already fairly packed and I was unable to get to the press enclosure closer to the mayor in time.

Or at least I wasn’t particularly inclined to do so, as my interest in the event wasn’t to photograph the Home Secretary, the Mayor or the police chief who were there to speak and light the main candles, but in the crowd and the people of London who like me had come to “show their respect for those killed and injured in yesterday’s terror attack and to insist that Londoners will not be cowed and stand together against hatred and division.”

So my only picture of the official speeches included in the set I sent off was the distant view at the top of this post, and it was something I only really took for the picture agency rather than myself. Taken from a platform inside a second press space at the base of Nelson’s Column I also made some rather tighter views than this which was taken with the 28-200mm at 85mm (in DX mode – so equivalent to 127mm) but the wider view seemed more appropriate.

The light was falling fast and this was one occasion where a faster lens like the weighty telephotos many of the other photographers around were aiming would have been more appropriate. But even if I had one, I would just have got more or less the same images as all those other photographers who were taking turns on the steps – and where’s the point in that?

I left the pen and made my way through the crowd, which was less tightly packed at the end of the square away from the steps. Once the official proceedings had finished it became easier to move around.

I did spend some time tightly packed together with other photographers taking pictures of people lighting candles, but moved away fairly quickly to go elsewhere.

It was getting pretty dark, and although hundreds of candles make a pretty good light source, the extremes between the light of the actual flame and the gloomiest of shadows were too much for any film or sensor. While in some images it was possible to retain detail in the candle flames, particularly when only one or two candles were involved, I couldn’t manage to do so with some of the wider views.

Despite its technical faults, his final image here – and one of the last I took before leaving the vigil – was I think the only one that was used at least in the few days immediately following the vigil.

Vigil against Terror fills Trafalgar Square


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