Playing Soldiers

Last weekend we went to the English Heritage History Live 2013 event at Kelmarsh Hall in Northamptonshire. I think I’m right in saying that this is the largest gathering of historical re-enactors in Europe. It’s certainly on a very large-scale – there must have been a few hundred participants at least and a few thousand spectators. Of course I was there purely for the photo opportunities…….;0).

Actually from a photography perspective this was quite a frustrating event – and I think this shows in the quality of some of the shots. The action mainly took place in the middle of two large arenas and so even with a 70-200mm lens with a 1.4 tele-convertor, on a crop-sensor camera, I was still wishing I had more reach. It was possible to get close to the edge of the arenas but only if you sat down so that the crowds behind could see. The problem then was that it proved difficult to get a clean shot from such a low angle because of the way the arenas were double roped-off for crowd safety.

The main problem though was that because the crowds were often 10 to 15 deep around the edge, once you had chosen your position you were basically stuck with it! Unfortunately you had no real way of knowing, before the action got underway, whether your choice of position was a good one or not. If you tried to move to improve your chances of a good shot then you ran the risk of not getting a shot at all….!!  

© Mark Simms Photography (2013)

10 Responses to “Playing Soldiers”

  1. carlossereno

    This seems an interesting event and your photos show it very well. I know the pain of having the action a little away for the longest lens at hand 🙂 You were lucky to get some clean backgrounds, i.e. without spectators.

    • Mark Simms

      Thanks – yeah that is one thing that was quite good. Spectators were all on two or three sides, so there was at least one side that was clear.

  2. Vicki (from Victoria A Photography)

    Your photos are excellent Mark, and really capture the action.

    I know that feeling of being stuck in a crowd and unable to take photos. Some years I get lucky when festivals happen in Melbourne’s main Federation Square which is on a slope intermittent steps and sometimes it’s impossible to see over or between ‘heads’.

  3. Noeline Smith

    Having tried a re-enactment event myself I know just how difficult (and frustrating!) it can be but I think you have done really well and have a great collection of shots here.
    I particularly like the kneeling/standing musket firing shot. Have you tried this in mono? I would have thought that it work really well.
    I also like the soldiers with the oval shields – there is something about the shapes, colours and jostling troops that works really well for me.


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