Bridgwater Carnival 2012

Saturday night was carnival night. For the first year, Bridgwater Guy Fawkes Carnival was held on a Saturday, to try to increase the amount of money collected for local charities. For those who don’t know, the carnival procession is held in the evening and is considered to be the largest illuminated carnival in the world and in fact only Notting Hill in London and Mardi Gras in Rio de Janeiro are probably bigger. The reasons for the procession are two fold, local heritage and culture (not to mention entertainment) and to raise money for charities.

Last year, the carnival was beset by drama and tragedy, with the collapse of the wall by the river and the later serious accident on the M5 near Taunton. Following the accident, carnival-goers held a mass minute’s silence the next day, during the traditional “Black Sunday” celebrations and a significant amount of money was raised by the various clubs. This was recognised by the emergency services during this year’s procession, thanking all the clubs for their help.

The entrants were as spectacular as usual, although I felt that there was a reduction in originality, with a number of entrants having very similar themes to recent years and even some with the exactly the same name during the procession, for example two or three clubs named their entrants “Circus”. One of my favourites was “Be our Guest”, by Wick Carnival Club. It wasn’t as spectacular as some of the big clubs, but they have improved noticeably in the few years I have been watching, plus it was one of the more original ideas. Sometimes I think originality should be rewarded as much as the amount of money that is obviously put into making many of the carts. I also find the entries from Huckyduck and Pentathlon to be quite interesting, but I was slightly disappointed by Huckyduck’s entry this year at the time, although looking at the photos, I like it better. It certainly wasn’t in the same class as their “Spirit of the Blitz” entry a couple of years ago, but was still good.

In what has almost become a tradition in the past decade, Gremlins yet again were the winners, with their entry Revolution. They seem to have a much bigger budget, with so many members, when compared to many other clubs and their cart is always a mass of moving parts.

All in all Bridgwater Carnival 2012 was a success and passed without the major incidents of last year. I think holding it on the Saturday was an improvement, although only the news of how much collected will confrm that.

Focus on Imaging 2012

Yesterday was the start of this year’s Focus on Imaging exhibition. I decided not to attend last year, as Canon weren’t attending and there wasn’t anything specific I wanted to have a look at. This year though was set to be full of anticipation, with Canon’s recent releases of the 1D X and 5D MkIII, not to mention Nikon’s D800 and D800E.

I had originally decided to go out of curiosity, to have a look at the 1D X, but then of course with all the rumours and subsequent release of the 5D MkIII, it took on a new edge, as it was a camera that was more in my price range or more to the point a price range I could justify, based on my level of sales. Then the week before the exhibition, I received an invite from Canon Professional Services (CPS) to a demonstration of the 5D MkIII, so my first stop on arrival was the CPS stand, next to the main Canon auditorium, to book a session.

My overall impression of Focus, was that there were less people there than I remembered from two years ago. However, it could just have been that they were all crowded around the 5D MkIII and 1D X stands, as you couldn’t get anywhere near them when I arrived, such was the interest and the corridor in that area was completely blocked. The usual range of show offers from the various exhibitors were in evidence, including a good price for a Black Rapid strap and a set of small Interfit 5-in-1 reflectors, but as usual, the paper I usually use was noticeable by its absence, despite a couple of exhibitors having a selection from Hahnemuehle (including Hahnemuehle themselves).

Then the time came for the demonstration and I will make another post with my impressions (along with some impressions expressed by the rep) of that and the subsequent quick testing afterwards. After that, I also made a beeline for the area where they had the only sample of the pre-announced 200-400 with built in extender. First of all, I picked it up and was immediately surprised by the weight, or rather the lack of it. It was much easier to handle than my 300mm f/2.8 IS (original version). I think this was partly due to the lightness and partly due to balance. I would say it’s only marginally heavier than the 300mm f/2.8 but much better balanced. I then had a chance to try it on a 1D MkIV. I wasn’t able to get any real impressions beyond seeing the difference between the extender in and out, but it’s very easy to reach the switch to flip it in and out with your left thumb. If it has the same image quality of other super teles (which I’m sure it will have), then it will be a lens to lust after.

All in all, it was worth attending and it was a good opportunity to see the new cameras and upcoming lenses. For anyone who is considering attending over the next couple of days, I would say get on the train or in your car and take a trip.