When I took up photography a few years ago the Oxford-Cambridge Boat Race was one of the first events I photographed. I had only ever watched the race on television previously, and I discovered that I really enjoyed the atmosphere of being along the river bank on race day, even though you only get to see the boats for a few moments. Of course, as with other big events agency photographers will be able to get the best shots of the crews themselves, so this year I decided to simply wander up the river and try to get some interesting people shots, and hopefully some shots of the boat coming out of one of the clubhouses. The weather didn't exactly play ball, with even a bit of light snow at one point, so I tried to avoid getting the sky in my shots because the general greyness just comes out as an unattractive "washed out" region.
This is my photographic diary of Boat Race afternoon.
As I walked along Putney high street towards the river I saw this costumed character. I've no idea what was being advertised, and the crowds on the high street made it hard to get a clear picture, so in the end I walked ahead and ducked up a side street to take this shot:
At Putney Bridge another street shot opportunity presented itself:
Outside one of the pubs along the river:
These guys were on the balcony of one of the clubhouses:
I wanted to get an idea of the kind of view my fisheye lens might give me when looking towards the clubhouses, so the following was really a practice shot. This is looking towards the Cambridge clubhouse:
Lots of people stop to get their photo taken in front of one of the clubhouses. Here, this man is getting photographed in front of the Oxford clubhouse:
As I lingered by the clubhouses I heard someone mention that the TV sports presenter, Clare Balding, was on a nearby television viewing platform, so I wandered across for this shot:
Clare was obviously doing some preparatory work as the race itself was still a long way off. As she stepped down from the platform I realised that she was about to walk out into the public area. No-one else seemed to be taking any notice and I was able to get a clear view of Clare as she approached someone on the street. She noticed me, flashed this quick smile, and then was gone:
I couldn't resist this cute dog:
In the wake of the interruption to last year's Boat Race by a protestor, there was a lot of publicity this year about additional security being provided by the Royal Marines. The Marines also delivered the trophy to the race organisers. Have they always done that or was that new to this year? I don't know. Here is a group of marines engaged in preparation on the river bank:
Here is one of the Oxford crews exiting the clubhouse. I'm not sure if this is the main crew or the secondary crew (there is another race just prior to the main race). I took a few shots of these guys but this one was more interesting because of the woman laughing (no idea what was going on there!):
Here are the Marines again delivering the Boat Race trophy:
The trophy itself (the "Y ME" in the background seems like some sort of jokey message but wasn't intentional!):
On the balcony of the Oxford clubhouse:
A bit more experimenting with my fisheye lens:
The following fisheye picture was a bit more experimentation on my part. I rather liked this and had the idea that when the boat was carried out I might try and "frame" the boat within the security men's outstretched arms. In the event that didn't quite happen because the security let a couple of lads with a banner come and crouch at the front, which meant they themselves had to stand a bit further apart. By the way, the grey object at the bottom is my own scarf - that's how much of an angle you get with this lens, but at least the scarf obscures my feet (which would otherwise be in shot!):
There were lots of girls going round selling cakes!
Here are a few general people shots that I took whilst waiting for the boat to appear:
And here comes the Oxford boat....well, actually I'm not sure if it's the main boat or the secondary one. In retrospect, on such an overcast day it might have been better to have photographed the Cambridge boat (a lighter colour, so more clearly distinguishable in the picture):
The fisheye view:
Waiting for the race to begin:
There's a kind of platform on the river near to the Harrods building. There was a little group of people there who'd been barbecuing sausages on a tiny grill. I had a bit of a chat with them and we watched the first race go by:
Someone else turned up with a one-day old puppy:
A little bit further along the river people were watching from their gardens:
The approach to Hammersmith Bridge:
And on Hammersmith Bridge itself:
Whilst everyone else was looking along the river this little girl spotted me:
Whilst I waited on Hammersmith Bridge I was listening to the race commentary on the radio, so I knew that Oxford was leading. Over the top of the radio commentary, however, I could hear the crowds along the Thames starting to roar, even before I could see the boats themselves. Then eventually they appeared from behind the trees:
Everyone has a camera these days, and on the other side of the bridge these two police officers were capturing the boats going past:
Some intrepid lads dashed from one side of the bridge to the other:
Getting a shot of the boats as they disappear into the distance:
Once the boats had gone past Hammersmith Bridge, most people started to head back in the direction of Hammersmith:
As I followed the crowds back along the bridge I noticed these three young people still standing up on one of the girders. Because of all the people in front of me I didn't realise that one of their friends was trying to take a picture (so I felt a bit guilty in retrospect about interrupting them).
The lad in the middle immediately called out to me that the girl on his left was a model, and that I should get a picture of her. She was a bit reluctant unfortunately!
The last shot of the day - just below Hammersmith a television cameraman operates the boom: