Here’s a video using clips taken with my Fujifilm X-Pro 2 on a quick visit to Foxton Locks near Market Harborough. It wasn’t the best day weather wise, in fact I had to stop filming when it started raining, but still an enjoyable if short visit. All the footage was filmed in 4K and converted to 1080p before uploading to YouTube.
This was my first visit to The Victory Show, which takes place just outside Cosby in Leicestershire. Now in its eighth year, the show took place on an extensive 100 acre site and promised a wide variety of WWII tanks and armoured vehicles, a large number of re-enactment groups and an impressive flying display of planes from the period.
The mix of static displays, living history encampments (including authentic looking trenches and other scenarios), together with set-piece battle re-enactments and a historic airshow meant that there was plenty to see and enjoy and lots of photographic opportunities.
I actually missed the set-piece battle on the main field in the afternoon as I was at the opposite end of the site and somewhat distracted while talking to a lovely lady from one of the large re-enactment groups. However, I did manage to catch a little of the morning skirmish and most of the flying displays.
I enjoyed looking round the static displays very much and everyone I talked to was really friendly which for someone like me is a real bonus as I sometimes have trouble approaching people to engage with them.
The highlight of the flying display for me was the North American B-25 Mitchell bomber. The sight and, just as important, the sound of this rare vintage plane flying low over the airstrip and then performing various manoeuvres to show off its capabilities was a real treat for everyone who was there.
If the B-25 was the highlight, the supporting cast wasn’t far behind. We were treated to a magnificent display of WWII fighter planes including the Carolyn Grace Spitfire…
and the Yakovlev Yak 11…
The Red Arrows display team also made a brief but memorable appearance…
I have included a few of my favourites from the day in this post, I hope you enjoyed them.
Call me a coward but in real life I will do almost anything to avoid conflict and confrontation. So why is it that I am regularly drawn to photograph these historic battle re-enactments, you might ask? A good question, one that I occasionally ask myself!
The answer of course is very simple. These are wonderful events to photograph, the sight and sound of men and women marching into battle, the sound and smell of the gunfire, the beauty of the horses, the vibrant colours of the uniforms, the clanking of the armour, the sound of metal on metal as the army’s engage in hand to hand combat – wonderful!
So it was I found myself at Bosworth Battlefield in Leicestershire for the anniversary battle re-enactment, one of my favourite events of the year. The Battle of Bosworth on 22nd August 1485 is where Richard III lost not only the battle but also his life. His Yorkist army was defeated by the Lancastrians led by Henry Tudor (Henry VII) and this defeat effectively ended the wars of the roses. Henry was the first of the Tudors and he ruled until his death in 1509, after which he was succeeded by his second son, Henry VIII.
Of course there was much more to see at Bosworth than just the re-enactment battle itself, although that was the main set-piece event. A full timetable of events took place throughout the day including a re-enactment of the Battle of Tewkesbury in the morning.
There was also a display of mounted skills at arms with riders, both men and women, pitting their skills against a variety of targets while on horseback.
A first for Bosworth and for me too was a display entitled “Battle of the Nations”. This comprised a number of skirmishes, in a makeshift arena, in which two or more heavily armoured men armed with swords and shields fought each other in a carefully controlled but brutal battle to put their opponent on the floor.
The fighting was fast and furious in a gladiator style, the fighters laden down with all their heavy armour including heavily constructed helmets and visors.
I can only imagine how incredibly hot and physically draining it must have been to take part in this type of battle but it certainly made for some entertaining action for the many spectators around the Bosworth main arena.
Another popular attraction is the jousting tournament. This spectacular and occasionally dangerous pastime much loved by the knights of old is one of the highlights of the afternoon programme. The aim of the riders is to break your own lance on the shield of your opponent and points are scored for the accuracy of the hits and the amount of damage to your lance.
This year’s tournament ended in quite a spectacular but unexpected fashion when, on the very last pass of the day, the safety fence between the horses appeared to blow over as seen below. To the best of my knowledge, both horses and riders thankfully escaped without injury but I’m sure the event organisers will want to review what happened before next year’s event.
There were also some impressive birds of prey demonstrations throughout the day but I will save those photos for a separate post. The main event was the anniversary battle re-enactment itself with Richard III leading his Yorkist army into battle for the last time against the Lancastrians led by Henry Tudor.
A minute’s silence preceded the battle as always to remember all those who fought and died in the Wars of the Roses. Then the battle commenced and once more it didn’t disappoint.
As mentioned earlier, for photographers like myself, these events have everything you could wish for – colour, action, movement, drama, scale, atmosphere, sometimes a little humour but always a real feeling of witnessing something rather special right in front of you.
Attempting to capture all these elements in still pictures is the challenge of course and it is not without difficulties. These battles are often unpredictable and the number of spectators dictates that you have to pick the spot where you are going to stand well in advance and stay they for the duration of the battle, come what may.
The problem comes when you find yourself in the wrong place, because the battle moved to the other end of the arena, or it passed you by quickly and left you looking only at the backs of everyone involved. This is a familiar scenario for me as this very thing happened to me only recently at Kelmarsh earlier this year during the Wars of the Roses battle. if you find yourself in the wrong place there’s very little you can do except hope that they come back to you!
Once again I had a brilliant day at Bosworth, credit must go to all the organisers and all the re-enactment groups who took part in the event for making it a day to remember.
Hopefully my photos managed to capture some of the drama and colour of the day, I know I’m reasonably happy with them. I realise these photos may not be “real life” enough for some people’s eyes but maybe that’s one of the big attractions to me of photographing this type of event – a little bit of escape from “real life”.
Remember, whatever your chosen subject, enjoy your photography!
Here’s just a few of my favourite photos from the 1940s event last weekend at the Great Central Railway in Leicestershire. As usual, I went with my good friend Barry on the Saturday, to be honest I was feeling a little tired after a long day at my sister-in-law’s wedding the day before.
As soon as we arrived we were immediately aware that it was going to be a busy day with lots of people having turned out to see the event. I had decided the night before to take just my longer lens, a Canon 80-200mm F/2.8 L (a.k.a. The Magic Drainpipe), and leave my standard zoom (28-70mm) at home. The longer zoom is perfect for head & shoulders portraits and I also had in mind the possibility of a fly-past at some point in the day but this turned out to be only on the Sunday.
The problem with taking only the longer lens, is that it requires a certain distance between the photographer and subject in order to get good framing and a little bit of variation in composition.
Now this is fine as long as there are not too many people and other photographers about but can be a bit tricky when there are lots of people around and lots of photographers with shorter lenses trying to get the same shot as me but from a closer range. On the positive side, the longer lens can be used to “isolate” the subject from the surroundings and can also provide a more diffused background than with a standard zoom.
One of my favourite events of the year is happening this weekend – 7th, 8th and 9th June 2013. The 1940s event at the Great Central Railway in 2007 was one of the very first re-enactment events that I ever went to and this event is still one of the highlights of my photography calendar.
I shall hopefully be posting photos from this year’s event in due course but before I do that I just wanted to show you the 2013 Great Central Railway Timetable and also the Wartime Weekend Flyer, both of which feature one of my photos on the front cover, the young soldier and the land army girl looking out of the railway carriage window.
I’m really pleased to see this photo taking pride of place on the front of these two brochures, I just hope I can take some photos of a similar quality over the coming weekend. This shot was the best of a series of similar shots that I took just as the train was arriving at Rothley Station.
Here’s the original in case you missed it before:
***Update***Photos from the 2013 1940s event have been posted here
Photos from the first event I covered, back in 2007, can still be found here
Have a great weekend!
Before I talk about my visit to the Great Central Railway 1940s weekend, I want to share some good news about two photos that I took at this event in 2010. I recently entered these two image in the Great Central Railway Print section of the annual exhibition run by Leicester and Leicestershire Photographic Society.
This picture of an engine driver looking out of his cab was commended:
This picture featuring a young soldier and a beautiful land army girl, which was a grab shot taken as a steam train was drawing into Rothley Station, was awarded second place in the same competition:
This year (2012) was the fifth time that my good friend Barry and I have photographed this event in the last 6 years. Not only is it a great event for photographers, but it is a great day out with plenty to see and enjoy, good food and interesting people to meet and share experiences.
The weather turned out so much better than expected with the forecast for Sunday being wet and windy. As it turned out, it was a beautiful day for re-enactors and visitors alike.
I don’t think there were quite as many period costume “characters” as there were last year but there was still plenty going on, certainly on the Sunday when we were there. The Das Heer re-enactment group were on patrol at Rothley Station as in previous years.
At Quorn and Loughborough Stations we encountered the Pitsford Home Guard Living History Group who carried out various exercises, parades and drills throughout the weekend. There was also a rarade featuring members of the Royal British Legion and guest dignitaries including Montgomery among others.
This was my first re-enactment of the year following a long lay-off due to my back problem earlier in the year. It was great to be out taking photos again and I hope to be able to cover more events through the remainder of the year now that my back is improving.
All the photos here were taken with my Canon EOS 5D (Classic) and EF 80-200mm F2.8L lens. All photos were shot in RAW format and processed using Lightroom Version 3.6. I’m still using Windows XP and so I am unable to upgrade to the latest version of Lightroom but to be honest it doesn’t concern me that much.
As always, credit must go to the event organisers, especially everyone connected with the Great Central Railway, including all the volunteers.
Also thanks to all the living history groups and re-enactors, both military and civilian, who make these events such a great photo opportunity for the many enthusiast photographers like myself.
Here’s a few shots from a recent early morning visit to Bradgate Park in Leicestershire.
There’s been some lovely winter sun over the last two weeks. This is not exactly typical for January in Northamptonshire which is often grey and rather depressing. Unfortunately for me, most of the winter sunshine has occurred during the week, when I am at work, and the last two weekends were quite disappointing.
Last weekend the forecast was for clear frosty nights and fine sunny days so with this in mind I decided to get up early on Sunday morning and head up to Bradgate Park which is roughly an hour’s drive from my house.
It was certainly a cold and frosty morning, but somebody forgot to order the sun and a blanket of grey cloud covered the sky for almost all my visit. I don’t mind cloudy conditions in general, especially when taking people pictures, in fact cloudy-bright is perhaps my favourite lighting for outdoor portraits.
However, I was disappointed not to see the sun on this occasion as I had purposely made the journey up to Leicestershire specially to take advantage of the winter sun that had been a feature of the preceding week.
Never mind, here are my photos of the frost, the park and the deer. I still enjoyed my visit as I always do here. There’s nothing nicer than setting out up the climb to the Old John folly at Bradgate, camera and monopod in hand, never quite knowing where the deer will be and what opportunities there will be to photograph them.
Unlike last time when it was rutting season, I managed to get quite close to the deer this time, and they seemed oblivious to my presence for the most part, which was ideal. I also looked for other photo opportunities while I was there, including the many runners and walkers who frequent the park, some of which I have included here.
To see more of my photos from Bradgate Park over the last 12 months, please check out my gallery here.
Last weekend was the occasion of the Battle of Bosworth Anniversary Re-enactment. The Bosworth Battlefield Heritage Centre near Market Bosworth in Leicestershire was the venue for this event.
The Battle of Bosworth took place here in 1485 and the battlefield at Bosworth is famous as the place where King Richard III was defeated and lost his life and his crown to Henry Tudor, the first of the Tudor dynasty.
This battle followed the “Wars of the Roses”, a series of battles between two rival dynasties, the white rose of York and the red rose of Lancaster, for the control of the English throne. Between 1454 and 1471 the houses of Lancaster and York fought thirteen battles with the Yorkist Edward IV winning the eventual victory.
Richard III was Edward’s youngest brother and succeeded him to the throne in 1483. Just 2 years later, he rode into battle at Bosworth in Leicestershire on the 22nd August 1485 where he met his death and lost his crown to Henry Tudor.
If you are a fan of Shakespeare, you will recall that the bard immortalised King Richard III as he lay defeated on the battlefield with the famous line: “A horse, a horse, my kingdom for a horse.”
I must admit, this was not the easiest assignment I have been on. The battlefield itself was surrounded by tents and spectators on all sides making backgrounds a problem. The other problem is that you can only ever be in one place at once so of course you can only photograph what is in front of you.
As it happened I was quite well placed for both of the day’s big battles and hopefully managed to capture some of the atmosphere and action of the day. The living history encampments at either end of the main arena provided further photo opportunities throughout the day.
I have posted many more photos from the day, including the excellent Jousting Tournament, over on my website
The 1940s weekend at the Great Central Railway in Leicestershire is one of my favourite WWII re-enactment events on the calendar. My good friend Barry and I have photographed it for four of the last five years, and it was great to see some familiar faces from previous years. Not only that, I even plucked up the courage to speak to some of them!
From a photographers point of view, I thought this was one of the best I can remember, with an assortment of colourful characters and some small but interesting set-pieces to photograph. We caught the train from Loughborough and travelled south stopping at Quorn, Rothley and finally Leicester North Stations. Unlike previous years there was no “battle” as such, but the demonstrations on each station made up for that to a certain extent.
One set of photos that I am particularly pleased with is of a group called DasHeer Living History Society who portray German conscript soldiers from the late 1930s and early 1940s. They have asked me to send them some of my photos to put on their website, which is great, so I will be taking a disc of selected images to Kelmarsh Hall in July where they will be taking part in the Festival of History.
Mixed in with the uniformed re-enactors were many people in civilian outfits from the same period. Some of these were also doing small set-piece presentations throughout the weekend. My favourite had to be Mrs. Day with her 1940s washing demonstration, a wonderful character to photograph and she played the part beautifully.
If you love taking outdoor portraits and environmental portraits as I do, these reenactment weekends provide great subjects to photograph and, with the odd exception, the volunteer re-enactors are willing models for the many photographers who tend to congregate at these events.
You can see more of my photos from the Great Central Railway 1940s Weekend 2011 on my website here.
Update June 2012: Photos from the Great Central Railway 1940s Weekend 2012 can be found on my website here.
Last weekend my very good friend Barry and I had an opportunity to go up to Bradgate Park for a couple of hours. I wanted to show Barry the park as he had never been there before. It was a very different morning to the first time I visited the park with Janet. There was no mist this time around, only a clear blue sky as we made our way into the park.
At first there was no sign of the deer but as we moved further down the path I spotted what I thought might be a group of Fallow Deer sitting up on the higher ground. I decided to try to get nearer and to my surprise they didn’t seem bothered by my presence at all as I moved closer. I managed to get quite a few shots of this group of young males, including the three photos here.
It was great to get so close to these beautiful creatures and the thin veil of cloud that suddenly appeared from nowhere came at just the right time to give me some lovely diffused light for these shots. I appreciate that some people might not like the amount of vegetation that is obscuring parts of the deer but I’m just happy to have captured them looking relaxed. Click here to see some more of my photos from Bradgate Park.
This is definitely a place I look forward to visiting again, especially in the autumn and winter. Just for the record, we also called into Rothley Station for an all-day breakfast (Woof!) before heading back to Leicester to see an exhibition of photography hosted by Leicester and Leicestershire Photographic Society, which included no less than seven of my prints. A very enjoyable day!