I am home from my trip to England and still coming down off cloud 9.  None of the photos I got will make the cover of Newsweek, but they will always be treasures to me and reminders of a perfect vacation with a wonderful friend.  The crowds made the shooting conditions less than ideal, but with just a bit of planning, I was able to get pictures that I am so happy with!

We arrived at Buckingham Palace sometime between 6:00 and 7:00 AM on the day of the wedding.  We could have gotten a bit closer to the street, but my camera would have been looking straight at the side of the balcony.  Instead, we planted ourselves under a tree that had a better angle to the balcony and was about 20 people back from the road.

Here is what I learned about shooting in crowds:

  1. Arrive early.  Thoughtfully and intentionally find a location that will give you the best camera position.
  2. Make sure your subject is up high. I was too short to see the carriages go by, even though I played with my camera angle.  Yes, a member of the royal family is hiding between the gate and the people in this picture:
  3. Find tripod substitutes. The tree we were under was great for the balcony shots.  There was a sturdy limb about 18 inches above my head.  I set my exposure and propped the camera on the limb.  With the Live View on my 7D, I was able to see what was going on and aim the camera too.  (I had to jump to see the balcony otherwise.)  Plus, the limb kept the camera still to prevent blurry images.  I held down the shutter and shot away.I hardly ever use that Live View, by the way, but it was worth it just for this one event.
  4. Set your exposure and recheck it as soon as you can before shooting.  Find the best composition.  Practice your shots before the subject arrives.
  5. Take your biggest lens. I shot with my 70-200, but I was suffering from a bit of “lens envy” when I saw this one.
  6. Hold down the shutter button and don’t stop shooting. You might just find a smile between a grandmother and a grandson.
  7. Don’t forget to stop shooting, hold hands with your friend like little girls, shed a tear or two and live the moment.  This is why I don’t have any kiss shots, and I don’t mind at all.
  8. Sometimes, snapshots are ok. (Yes, we inadvertently walked by Kate’s hotel just a few hours before she left for Westminster Abbey.)Do you see the table lamp inside Buckingham Palace the night before the wedding?  I have myself convinced that it belongs to the queen (with no evidence at all, of course).
  9. The palaces/churches I toured on this trip didn’t allow photography inside, even without a flash.  But once or twice, I shot from the hip my finger accidentally slipped onto my shutter button.  I know, I know, I understand that these institutions don’t want their artifacts being used commercially or inappropriately, and they want the crowds to flow quickly.  But it is so hard for me – it doesn’t seem right that people can’t create art celebrating these beautiful historical pieces that are so important to everyone, not just the group of people in control of them at the moment.
  10. It’s ok to leave your heavy camera bag at home some of the time. Especially if you have a camera on your phone.  Some photos are just meant to document and remind rather than be perfect.  See you at Hogwarts….
  11. I didn’t have a wide enough angle lens to do any “traditional” shots of Big Ben.  But I like the way my perspective here emphasizes its height and grandeur.
  12. Take advantage of the locations that do allow photography. This is Henry VIII’s wine cellar at Hampton Court.

I had such a fantastic trip!  Can you tell?  I promise that I’ll stop gushing about it soon, but it will be a while before I stop reliving it.