Friday, 25 February 2011

Spring is here

Bumble bee sucking spring nectar. © Magnus Andersson

Today we had +15C in London, a marvellous spring day with plenty of bird song and numerous bumble bees waking up from their winter slumber, drunkenly sucking all the nectar they can find on the new flowers. Mum and dad find it hard to believe as apparently they had -11C yesterday, so this is for the doubters back home. ;)

Spring flower. © Magnus Andersson

Spring flower. © Magnus Andersson

Spring flowers. © Magnus Andersson

Wednesday, 16 February 2011

A little woopsy

Michael Palin giving a speech in a retirement home. © Magnus Andersson

I messed up before Christmas. I was scheduled to photograph Monty Python funny man and explorer-extraordinaire Michael Palin at an retirement home, but I was running late. It was a cold day and I was wearing the customary scarf of a photojournalist-in-denial: the Keffiyeh (aka Palestinian scarf, aka كوفية‎ and many more names, basically a head scarf traditionally seen in Arab countries.

In the West however, we misunderstand it and wear it around our neck. There's currently a huge lack of sand storms in the UK, which renders this head dress more suitable as a scarf. So you get the point. OK.

I arrived within minutes to spare of Palin's speech and parked quickly, paid the meter and ran across the road towards the entrance. The security guard was chatting to a mate in a car in the drive. When he saw me sprinting across the road he suddenly sprang into action to intercept me. I thought that this was a little odd for a retirement home and slowed down so he could reach me at the door.

I declared my intentions (local paper photog here for Michael Palin) and he seemed positively relieved! I was let in to the reception, where I was greeted by a smiling black lady who simply asked me to sign the register before introducing me to their PR person.

(At this stage I am still wearing my big camera backpack, winter jacket and, crucially, my keffiyeh scarf)

I am led down corridors perfumed with Glade to cover up the smell of old people (this is in no part a slight on old people's hygiene, it is simply a fact that these places tend to smell of wee+Glade).

Eventually I am led into a really warm room where 60-odd oldies are gathered waiting for Palin. I am told NOT to obscure the elderlies vision (long lens job) and only to take a few pictures during the opening MINUTE of his 40 minute speech, using NO flash in a near dark room. OK, I say (thank you D700).

"Would you mind putting your bag in hold during the event"? I am asked. Yes I would mind. I need this bag to do my job. "Harrumph" I can keep my bag but am asked to remove my jacket, fair enough.

It is only now, when I am firmly wedged in-between the chairs of a couple of really old frail ladies, with my long lens protruding, that I realise that the job description did mention something of a Jewish retirement home.

After my little woopsy, I was eventually allowed to shot the remainder of the session on both short and long lenses, but my keffiyeh magically disappeared into one of my lens cases.

Lesson learnt from all this? Try and read the job description carefully, and dress accordingly. ;)