Yesterday, as part of the run up to the 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games, London hosted International Paralympic Day to showcase some Paralympic sports.
Myself and a couple of friends headed down to Trafalgar Square in the afternoon to see who could get the best picture of whatever we found happening. Unfortunately it was a bit of a grey day.
The first thing we came across was, well, um…
Simply put, the Mayor of London was playing tennis against the Prime Minister. They were each doubling up with a Paralympian (who rarely had a chance to hit the ball, but still), and they looked… well, like politicians playing sports, who at the best of times look awkward and uncomfortable, and even more so if they’re playing in the same suits they use to run the country.
And of course, our own Mayor Boris Johnson is not exactly renowned for his dignity.
As bad as Boris looks, Mr Cameron (I’ll reserve political comments for the appropriate place) has managed to look even more uncertain of sporting activity as he wields a tennis racquet like it’s a live grenade:
Unfortunately, I also discovered the problem of the bright red playing surface which lit up their faces and shirts like nobody’s business. In that last shot it’s pretty bad, in others it was less of a problem.
With Boris it’s hard to tell as he always looks pretty drunk and red faced whatever he’s doing.
Now, those of you familiar with tennis will be able to spot the errors in Boris’ serving technique.
I’m also sure this is a non-standard posture for tennis:
The PM by this point had settled into the game, and was looking a little more confident. His serve was still lacking, but at least he looks the part in this image:
You could almost believe this was a real tennis game. Played by some mid-management IT types.
I decided whilst shooting this little sparring match to use my 70-300mm lens. Ultimately I think I would have been better off with my wider angle lens, because from my vantage point 70mm wasn’t usually wide enough, and 300mm could get a little close at times. In fact, you might want to brace yourself for this next image.
This next shot I’ve included as it features the ball in motion with David Cameron looking right at it. However, from the angle I’ve taken it it does look a little like he’s soiled himself.
Unfortunately, for an event that was supposed to be about the Paralympics, the two politicians did spend most of the time on the ball and didn’t let their two disabled doubles partners have much of a look in. Sorry, that’s bordering on political discussion – quick, here’s a picture of Boris Johnson looking about as much like an idiot as usual:
Here’s Boris trying another serve. If this was a more politically-minded blog there would be a comment about underhand tactics or some such thing.
That’s the last of the tennis match photos, which to be honest took up the majority of the good images I took at the event. There was however still plenty more going on.
The 2012 Paralympic Games are due to start in a little under a year. Like for the Olympics, there is a clock in Trafalgar Square counting down to the opening ceremony.
The next sport we found being demonstrated was something called ‘Sitting Volleyball’. I’m not sure what sort of disability you can have to play this one, but looking at the apparently able-bodied people playing it I assume its for people who suffer from multiple sclerosis.
Whoever it’s aimed at, the participants were obviously taking it seriously.
From the angle we had and the way the action panned out, ultimately most of the shots I got looked like ones I could sell for a ‘find-the-ball’ competition.
I did however manage to get some interesting action shots, although annoyingly the frame is often quite cluttered.
The hardest part sometimes was keeping the ball in frame.
Other demonstrations going on through the day included rowing (which I failed to photograph in any interesting way), wheelchair rugby (which we didn’t stick around for because it started raining) and weightlifting (which happened whilst we weren’t looking).
After photographing the sports for a while, we then turned to trying out our paparazzi skills at photographing some of the famous people floating around at the event (metaphorically, I mean, they weren’t unconscious in the fountains).
There was also the opportunity to photograph some of the sights of Trafalgar Square.
Currently occupying the fourth plinth is a four-ton ship in a bottle.
I tried also to get some images of the rest of the crowd, in order to get some of that atmosphere stuff. I used my trusty f/1.8 lens, as I find that its shallow depth of field can create an interesting photo where there might not have been one otherwise. Yeah, I said it.
This final guy looks a bit sad.
And that’s it. After the epic length of my last post this one must seem a little short.
If you want to see more of this event, myself and the two friends I went with will shortly be launching our own photo blog where all of our attempts at photographing this event will end up in the near future. I’ll post a link when it’s live and kicking.