Leamington Summer Carnival

Leamington Summer Carnival

Last Wednesday, I spotted this tweet:

The "official" part seemed a little intimidating, but as I'd been planning to go along to the carnival anyway to see what photographic opportunities it offered, I thought it was worth replying.

A few tweets later, and I found myself well and truly volunteered, with a call sheet listing all the pictures the organisers required. I'd never shot a public event before, so this was a bit of a leap into the unknown, but at the very least I thought it would be good experience, and a chance to practise taking photos in an entirely different environment to the kind of thing I'm used to. It's good to step out of your comfort zone every so often, right?

Saturday morning rolled in with grey skies and gusty winds that didn't do much to conjure a summery atmosphere. I'd been dithering over which lenses to take with me and the threat of rain pushed me towards the XF18-135mmF3.5-5.6 R LM OIS WR (my only weather-sealed lens), with the XF 35mm F1.4 R and XF 56mm F1.2 R tucked in my bag in the hope the weather would brighten up a bit later.

I was relieved to arrive and find I wasn't the only photographer on the scene, but I figured I'd treat it as though I was on my own and try to get as many of the necessary shots as possible. The Leamington carnival is relatively small, as it's re-establishing itself after a few years of not being held at all, so there weren't too many floats to get around before the procession began.

My favourite was probably the Star Wars-themed float, with its impressive cardboard Millennium Falcon and TIE Fighter, although you have to admire the simple-but-effective Minecraft one.

Leamington's mayor (the lady without a fluorescent jacket in the photo below) judged the floats. She picked a woodland-themed float from one of the local nurseries as the winner.

As well as the floats, there were plenty of people (and dogs!) dressed up, including a couple of guys in some impressive fursuits. Even though it wasn't particularly sunny, I'm sure they were roasting inside those. Plus a marching steel band and numerous other entertainers.

Although the carnival is relatively 'new', it was well supported and it was great to see so many people out and about in town.

The 18-135 lens performed pretty well, all things considered. I felt like most of the time I was using it in the range where the optically superior (to my eye, at least) XF 18-55 f2.8-4 would have done a better job. But it was handy to have the extra reach for a few of the shots. It doesn't seem to be a point-and-shoot lens the way some of the others in the range are - the best photos from the day are all ones where I had time to set up the shot, rather than grabbing the moment and moving on. There were a couple of occasions where the autofocus didn't quite lock on to my intended target, but rarely to the point where the resulting photos are unusable. Considering how drab and overcast the skies were, it did a good job with the colours (helped no doubt by the Velvia film simulation mode).

After the formal stuff was out of the way, I had half an hour or so to wander around the fairground where the carnival procession finished up. By this time the weather had improved and I switched to the 35mm f1.4 lens for some of the following shots. The pictures I took at this point definitely fall into the 'unofficial' category, and I can't see any of them being used to promote next year's carnival, but for one reason or another they appealed to me.

Those shots are probably about the closest I get to street photography. It's not something that comes naturally to me, but I enjoyed dipping my toe into the genre. Something to work on in the future, I suspect!

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