A fellow member of the Hertfordshire DigiCluster Group, Mike Benjamin, kindly asked me to help him out by covering the Dinner to celebrate Her Majesty the Queen's 90th Birthday by the Imperial Society of Knights Bachelor being held in one of London's ancient halls; the Apothecaries' Hall near Blackfriars.
Nowadays travelling to the metropolis by road is not one of life's joys if you need to stick to a timetable, so I set off very early, having decided to drive only to East Finchley where the latter part of my journey would be completed by 'Tube' – the London Underground rail service for which I could be reasonably certain of the duration.
The last part of my journey would be on foot with my camera bag and selection of lenses and electronic flash equipment and since I intended to arrive fresh wearing a suit, it was taken very easily, but despite my best efforts I was very glad to take my jacket off upon arrival! Later I would ask my host, Simon Doughty whether I could shed the jacket whilst shooting and was relieved that I was allowed that informality so managed to keep a tad cooler.
I used the time waiting by taking a few shots of my surroundings in case these would be of use to the client, and after half an hour a couple of guests arrived who had taken similar precautions to myself and allowed time for any mishaps, so took some preparatory shots of this surgeon and his good lady. They then went in search of cool refreshments in a nearby hostelry.
The next arrival was the client, Simon Doughty and so we entered the building and he gave me a rundown of the photographs he needed, and I took advantage of getting shots of the prepared tables in the Dining hall, and was introduced to some hidden narrow steps at the end of the room which fortuitously gave me a high level viewpoint and thus a better chance of my covering more of the entire gathering.
Guests began arriving, and much later than they had hoped and the main topic of conversation was of interminable delays caused by heavy traffic – I suspected this might well continue till they were seated in the main hall! However for the present there was music from a quartet playing in one of the ante rooms away from the throng in the main reception room which was crowded with small groups in animated conversation being threaded by waiters and waitresses plying them with welcome drinks as it was a very warm evening.
The guests were greeted at the top of the staircase and announced from the landing by the Master of Ceremonies, and since space was tight I often could not take shots of the Greeting, so interspersed my shooting with photos taken as they came up the stairs after their titles and names had been given.
Whenever there was a lull in arrivals, I dashed elsewhere covering some of the informality of the evening, but soon that became difficult for me to do on three counts; one the time taken to reach the furthest reaches of the room, and the second was avoiding taking the closest groups many times due to their being the easiest, and lastly I had to keep returning to the top of the stairs for the arrivals.
It was soon time for the guests to take their seats in the hall and for me to take some overhead shots and a few more views at various angles at table level and naturally the Top Table dignitaries.
My evening officially concluded once the guests were all seated, so I double-checked that I had covered all that was required and begun the return trip which was mercifully slightly less long than my inward travel, then began the task of ensuring that the shots were crisp, correctly exposed, level, balanced and there were no shots with bad blinks, or poorly-focussed, and I made a start on that process while everything was fresh in my mind.