Longleat Festival of Light

When I heard about the Festival of Light event at Longleat I knew I had to go and get some photographs for the blog.  In terms of night time light events I’ve experienced it’s second only to the ‘fire garden’ event at Stonehenge as part of cultural celebrations of the London 2012 Olympics.

The Festival of Light is the first cultural event of its kind in Europe and consists of twenty hand-crafted displays built and placed by a team of over one hundred from the Sichuan province in China.

The scale of the works, dotted around Longleat House, is simply amazing.  There were hundreds, if not thousands, of people on the evening I went and as you’ll see below there was lots of space to get photographs.

Because of the dark conditions and high contrasting lights I took my trusty Olympus OMD E-M1 and 25mm f1.8 lens (a great combination for low light and sharp photographs) and one leg of my Three Legged Thing tripod called Brian as a monopod.  Someone walked past and commented that it was the biggest selfie stick they’d ever seen… sometimes I despair!  Most of the photos were taken in aperture priority mode and using the monopod to reduce any camera shake.

I really hope Longleat do something similar next winter, I’d love to spend more time wandering around getting even more photos.

Wakestock 2013

Sometimes my holidays in north Wales coincide with the Wakestock wakeboarding and music festival. Wakestock is not as mainstream as the big UK festivals, like Glastonbury, Tea in the Park, or Reading and Leeds, but I’m sure no other festival is set in such a lovely location with easy access to the beaches and the sea. The Wakestock festival site is between Abersoch (where I stay when I’m in the area) and Pwllheli, and has music stages, camping, food outlets, etc. and the wakeboarding competitions happen in Pwllheli harbour and Glasfryn Parc.

I’m not into water sports, but as the festival site is a short bus ride from where I stay it’s a good opportunity to see some live music. Especially as I can do it without the need to camp! 2013 was my second Wakestock adventure, and it’s sad to say that it seems to be suffering from the poor economic conditions in the UK as the site was about half the size it was when I went a few years ago. Still, that didn’t seem stop people having fun and the atmosphere there had a real buzz.

On the Sunday when I went the headline acts were Kids in Glass Houses, Zane Lowe and Example, both acts certainly drew in the crowds. I’ve seen Zane Lowe previously and knew that his set would be really high energy and a great performance. I’d not seen Example live before, so he was a bit more of an unknown.

I only took my small Samsung Galaxy camera as I didn’t want to carry around my big camera and lenses. So the pictures aren’t the best quality, given the low light conditions. But a friendly security guard did allow me onto the sound stage for a couple of minutes to get photos from above the crowds – it’s occasional luck like that which sometimes you need as a photographer to get photos a bit different from everyone else’s. Next time I go I’d be tempted to take the big camera to get some much higher quality photos. Wakestock has a safe feeling to it so I wouldn’t be too worried about the risk. Of course, if the Wakestock organisers read this and want to give me a press pass for next year’s Wakestock I’d definitely take the big camera!