Part one of my Diamond Jubilee post can be found here.

Monday saw the Jubilee Concert as the centre of attention, with the QVM being converted into an elaborate stage, high bleacher-style seating around the edge of the monument and music fans filling the full length of the Mall. Shortly before the show started, word went round that Prince Philip had been taken to hospital. While there was an initial buzz of concern that this could end up being a very different evening, it turned out to be a bladder infection, so everyone could relax a little.

The first few minutes were spoiled by a camera fault which I spotted quickly, leaving me thankful that I’d lugged three camera bodies into town. Shooting from around 50 metres from the stage, the Nikon 600mm f4 was the lens of the day with a 300mm f2.8 for wider group shots, and a 24-70mm f2.8 for the inevitable fireworks. With the Mall filled to capacity with jubilant jubilee types, networks were as clogged as a Dutchman’s foot, so the AFP editor had to revert to sending via BGAN satellite terminal. Due to the network issues, the editors from all of the agencies couldn’t send from the media room in the park, as there was too much tree coverage. Adding to glamour of the lifestyle, they were all forced to come and shelter behind the photographers’ stands with umbrellas and no power supply. Eeeh, it’s a classy life.

Highlights of the show were as eclectic as the line-up with much entertainment, laughter and dancing. The latter of which can prove problematic. If Stevie Wonder is on stage singing Superstition, a man cannot be expected to stand still, despite the fact that it causes the whole photographers riser to bounce around. Don’t blame me, blame The Wonder.

Room was at a bit of a premium on the photographer’s stand during the show, resulting in some fine lens balancing from the likes of Dan Kitwood. You don’t want to know how he operated that 500mm…

While Grace Jones performed miracles with a hula hoop, Cliff Richard managed to have both myself and Reuters photographer David Moir cheering as he broke into a rousing bit of Devil Woman. Kylie seemed to have a much longer set than most of the others on the bill but I wasn’t complaining too much. With the much-hyped Tom Jones performing a very lacklustre set and Elton John seeming a little off form after his bout of pneumonia last week, it was up to Macca and his fireworks to end the concert in style.

Then the Queen was brought onstage for an emotional speech (and even a kiss) from Prince Charles, before the grand finale. With Prince Philip in hospital, it was sad to see the Queen spending the evening without her husband, and I’m sure she must have just wanted to be with him. She smiled on through it all, and after a series of cheers from the crowds and a “God Save the Queen”, it was time for the uber-fireworks. Crikey. Them’s big bangs.

With the show over and as many images sent as we could before the power died, we trekked back across London, and I crashed into my hotel bed for a well-earned three hours sleep.

Ahh, that lovely Blackberry alarm. How I love you so. Sporting bleary eyes and an even blearier brain, it was time for the final day of the long weekend, and the procession and flypast at Buckingham Palace. With the balcony appearance not taking place until after 3pm, a healthy report time to arrive would have been noon, but for some bizarre reason, photographers were requested to gather at 7am, before being loaded onto the monument photography position to begin a long day of thumb-twiddlery. I think the long weekend was starting to get to certain other people, too…

Having some experience of shooting that balcony (*shudder*), I knew what to expect, so came prepared for anything. Made up of two D4 bodies, a D3s body, a 600mm f4, a 300mm f2.8, a 70-200mm f2.8, a 24-70mm f2.8, a 14-24mm f2.8, a “Three Legged Thing” Brian tripod, a retro Manfrotto 058, a Manfrotto Magic Arm as well as a laptop, BGAN, Pocket Wizards and assorted rain-covers, my kit rendered me as mobile as Mount Snowdon.

When the time came, so did the rain and I was frantically dashing to my wide-angled remote camera every few seconds to wipe the rain from the front element, as the crowds cheered for the Queen to appear. Eventually she did and it was time for the 6 minutes of actual proper work. Lots of waving, smiling, pointing and looking at planes was done before the Royals returned inside and the shooting was over. All that remained was the frantic edit and transmission, which isn’t helped by tens of thousands of spectators draining all of the available 3G bandwidth. Thankfully, the people soon cleared and the pictures could fly freely. After the stresses of the Royal Wedding, it was great to see a nice full set of sharp pictures with not a trace of heat-haze, pollen or camera shake to ruin the day. That was a demon that’s taken over a year to exorcise! If only Nikon did an 800mm, life would just be peachy!

Just to give you an idea of distance, see that little dot in the middle of the frame below? That dot rules your ass.

So there we are. The Diamond Jubilee is over with no problems, nightmares or screw-ups. Walking away from Buckingham Palace last night, I said that I hoped that it was time for some variety and hopefully the last that I’d see of the Royals for a few months.

This morning I received an email. “Leon, we’ve put you down to shoot the “Trooping the Colour” ceremony from the QVM on the 16th of June”. Right, where did I put that checklist?

23 Responses to “The Diamond Jubilee of Queen Elizabeth II (pt 2)”

  1. After the rundown off all the gear you had to lug with you, I hope you have a good physio included with your health insurance!
    lol @ “That dot rules your ass!”

    Posted by akin
  2. Great coverage! Hope you are treating yourself to a massage after lugging that lot around town :-)

    Posted by Marie Man
  3. awesome! I’m gonna dig out part 1 now. :)

    Posted by Carmel
  4. I can’t imagine what that gear weighs.! I shudder to think of hauling it around. Makes the contents of my camera bag seem positively feeble. I’m glad this trip to Buck House worked out ok this time and the 600mm did the business here. The 14-24mm wasn’t designed for rain. Maybe they can design some windscreen wipers for it. I recognise the bass player in the Grace Jones shot. If I’m not mistaken it’s Lee Pomeroy who I last saw playing for the Tar Babies in a pub in Sussex about four or five years ago. Great musician. Another entertaining read and the images are all pretty stunning as usual. I do like the third one of the girl shot through the flags..

    Posted by Tim
  5. A really great set of pictures that we otherwise wouldn’t get to see. Thanks! Harry

    Posted by Harry Engels
  6. @Akin – I did have a good ponder about that line, I must admit! :)

    @Marie Man – I think that may be on the cards on one of my days off next week…

    @Carmel – Cheers, m’dears!

    @Tim – Yeah, it gets seriously heavy by the end of the day. Cokin did release a filter for the 14-24mm but it makes the lens the same size as a suitcase so not too handy!

    @Harry Engels – Thanks Harry. Much appreciated!

    Posted by tabascokid
  7. Fantastic work! So glad I can see it all through your lens or should I say lenses etc. Well deserved pampering needed from the Mrs. I think. ;)

    Posted by Rochelle
  8. @Rochelle – Thanks again, petal!

    Did you hear that, Kirsten? Pamper me, woman! ;)

    Posted by tabascokid
  9. Fabulous images. Thank you for sharing. Look forward to seeing the Trooping the Colour blog!

    Posted by Kim
  10. Leon, your work continues to amaze and inspire me!

    I was one of the cameramen shooting the concert for the BBC, and normally would have been very jealous of you photographing such an amazing event…until that is, I clocked the suspiciously tiny platform they built for you guys to shoot from! ‘Cosy’ doesn’t even come close to describing it! I bet there were a few bruised elbows by the end of it as you all jostled with each other for space! Us TV folk have tons of room in which to work, whereas you guys always seem bunched together like a cage full of condemned battery chickens!

    PS – Not to brag, but 600mm lenses?! Pah! We were on 900-1600mm beasts, where even a fly landing on the lens hood rendered enough shaking to make the shot unusable!

    Seriously though – truly amazing stuff! *takes hat off to you*

    Posted by Mark
  11. @Kim – Not sure that there’ll be one due to a) there not being enough from it to warrant one and b) Royal fatigue for both me and the readers! Think it’ll be tennis next (with a sneaky extra one coming on Monday…)

    @Mark – Hey Mark, Cheers for your kind words. Much appreciated. So where were you then? I guess you weren’t the guy behind me who I was offering wine gums and blueberries to? :) It wasn’t too bad on the stand as we all get along. You have to really or no-one would get anything. Makes it a little hard trying to switch between lenses, particularly when they’re on monopods and tripods. As for the lenses, you TV guys do have insane lengths on your kit. If only… Mind you, I’ve never seen any of you using a monopod with one of those bad boys yet!

    Thanks again for your comment and make sure you come over to say hi at the next one. Big job that is, not Jubilee…

    Posted by tabascokid
  12. Fantastic Pt 2 of your Jubilee experience. Really enjoyed reading and fabulous pictures as always. Glad you slayed the Balcony Demon from last year too :) Really like the firework ones, what shutter speed and ISO are you on to capture then in full ‘explosion/effect’?

    Posted by Sarah
  13. I can’t decide if I like Pt 1 or Pt 2 best! What a wonderful set of photographs. I hope you are proud of them. You are living the dream! Long may it continue. I’ll never tire of your work…..

    Posted by Alexandra Bone
  14. @Sarah – Thanks Sarah. I was equally glad to shoot that damned balcony without the stress of last time! I’ll own that balcony by the time someone else get’s married… As for the fireworks, there was a VAST amount of light floating around so it really didn’t take much. I was on about 500th at f5.6, I seem to remember.

    @Alexandra Bone – Way too kind. Thanks for that. Now lets see if you’re saying the same after six months of sport blogs…

    Posted by tabascokid
  15. So when’s your book coming out?

    Posted by Jim
  16. Hey Leon,

    Nah, it wasn’t me lurking behind you guys – think it was my esteemed colleague Mr Miller, who in his own way is the Tabascokid of the TV world! I was perched atop the audience rostra with possibly the best view of the whole site…strangely though, it had so much empty space up there you could have fitted an extra 100+ audience and a swarm of photographers had anyone wanted to come up!

    Keep up the good work sir, and I look forward to seeing more of your amazing shots which’ll make me wonder ever more why I faff about with telly, when CLEARLY stills are just way cooler.

    Posted by Mark
  17. @Jim – It’ll be posthumous.

    @Mark – Haha! I want to put that last line on my business card. :) Sounds like that would have been a hell of a view! We were all frustrated by the space situation on the day of the ceremony on QVM. The whole of the top deck was reserved for a two cameras while thirty of us squeezed into the gaps below. Ah, the joys of the job…

    Posted by tabascokid
  18. I must stop reading your blogs on my lunch breaks – clogged as a Dutchman’s foot almost made my mouthful of smoked haddock chowder exit from my tear ducts. Jesus.

    Posted by Carl Osbourn
  19. @Carl – Yay! Brilliant. I was proud of that one. :)

    Posted by tabascokid
  20. Brilliant as always – I knew as soon as I was watching the balcony scenes on the day that I’d have to look out for a blog post from you, especially in light of the fun you had last year with the wedding.

    Witty and delightfully British. Rule Britannia!

    Posted by Neil
  21. Cheers, Neil. It’s good to know people expect to find me where the fun is! :)

    Posted by tabascokid
  22. Hi Leon…been a while since I’ve had a chance to gander at your eminent scribblings…but had to comment here as on the last day of the celebrations i was about half a mile behind you on the mall! Knew you’d be well positioned there somewhere…and looked out for you…half knowing what you look like…when I finally reached Buck house. Got a few crackers on the corner of Whitehall/Admiralty Arch…including Camilla looking straight down the lens…but nothing compared to those above. Now to catch up with the rest of your exploits!

    Posted by Scott Lee
  23. @Scott – Glad you had a good day! It seems so long ago now. I’d like to say I’m missing the royal jobs but that wouldn’t be entirely true… ;)

    Posted by tabascokid

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