17 January 2016

Lumiere London

So many bloody people!

I knew the first ever Lumiere London was going to be busy, but I'd not been prepared for the huge amount of people gathering along Regent Street in the early evening of Saturday.  Despite the four lanes of one of the capitals most famous streets being closed to traffic, it was still challenging to just walk down the road, and as for taking photos, long exposures, with a tripod....

I sound like I'm being grumpy, but actually it was a great event and atmosphere.  With a festival feel, people were interacting with strangers.  My group must have been asked about 20 times what or where something was - which given the helpfulness of the two official Lumière people I spoke with, was probably just as well as they were bloody hopeless!

We set off with good intentions of seeing the majority of the installations, starting around Kings Cross but that quickly got reduced.  We'll do the ones around Regent Street and then see how much time we have....

In the end I think we stopped to photograph just 7 of the 30 attractions.  Some weren't very good for photography, so we kept on walking.  The plastic bottles in the Trafalgar Square fountain was rubbish (pun intended), just because something is lit, doesn't make it part of a festival of light.  One was in an office window, with so many people gathered around it was impossible to even see.  There was supposedly one on The Mall, but it didn't want to be found.

The three big displays along Regent Street ("1.8 London", "Keyframes" and "Les Lumineoles") along with "Centre Point Lights" and "The Light of the Spirit" were the ones we spent the most time trying to photograph.  The final one, at Westminster Abbey was the best though, with fewer people (even less once it started to rain).

Despite starting at 18:30 when they were switched on, it was nearly 10pm by the time we decided to give up.  We were all rather broken and in need of a sit down, a beer or a cup of tea.  Thank you to the Marriott County Hall for making us feel so welcome.

We made our way home on another over crowded, sweaty South West Trains.  Next time it may have to be a two-day effort to capture more of the lights.  Although it was clearly a victim of its own success, with news reports saying they had to turn off the displays because of overcrowding.

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