High flying and the risks involved.


Yes, sounds filled the sky yesterday in London to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the RAF (or Royal Air Force for non-UK types). 

Despite being neither a particular fan of fighter planes, war or armed forces in general - a bit of a pacifist really - I was glad to be in town to see the impressive flyover of various RAF planes from the past and present. 

It wasn't just me - thousands of people from everywhere in the world were on The Mall leading to Buckingham Palace to greet each passing plane with an excited roar while getting even more excited at the sight of the Royal Family (another thing I'm not too bothered about... wrong gig, eh?)

Despite taking a few shots of the various Spitfires, Tornado's, and everyone's favourite Red Arrows, I was actually more interested in getting images of those around me and they certainly didn't disappoint - because while I might have been here or there about some of it you could tell for a lot of people this was A Big Deal.

Hats (and goggles, chaps) off to the organisation though. Having read up on the flight path, amount of planes and timing precision, the risky flyover went off with without a hitch.

What I was really impressed by was the RAF brass themselves, who could have been a bit snooty, but on a big day for them clearly spent a lot of time chatting with visitors walking down The Mall after the flyover giving off an excellent impression of England at a time when we need to show a decent face to the world.

Before all these high flying shenanigans I'd popped into the Serpentine Gallery to have a look at this year's Pavillion designed by Frida Escobedo. 

Somewhat like my visit to see the Christo sculpture floating nearby, I was a bit underwhelmed. Whilst from a photography POV, the 'slats' allowed me to peak in and get some great candids, and the reflective ceiling gave some whacky distorted shapes, I can't help feeling it was it all a bit meh - I didn't get the story and as a public space it felt very enclosed and not inviting to relax in. Mileage may vary of course!

Back to The Mall. What was a highlight was the opportunity to walk right down the middle with the Palace right behind you without getting mown down by cars or horses. A real thrill. 

Once I got to the end, I made my way back up via Soho to Oxford Street and down to Tottenham Court Road - shooting all the way - and on for a nice cup of tea and some final shots with a cup of tea, hanging out with Mrs W in the V&A garden (which is always a pleasure on both counts!)

So what did I learn? Well, planes and the RAF mean a huge amount to people - with good reason - and seeing the machine in action is pretty impressive, so you don't need to be a military type to appreciate it or indeed not understand all the risks involved to those who've served.

Secondly, whilst I applaud the Serpentine for getting on board with the world and hiring a young, Mexican female architect to produce this year's Pavillion, I think they need to rethink and reimagine the brief for next year - it needs to be expand and grow a bit and be less about making just a statement, but really being an amazing place to be. Saying that, it's always brave and I come back for a look every year, so they must be doing something right. 

Like high flyers from all walks of life know, a risk is usually worth it.


Tech Corner:
A little bit of Voitglander 40mm f1.2 (review to come!) but a load of Batis 85mm to get all those lovely planes and fair away looks.