Halleluiah Wi-Fi at last! So, here’s my first real Blog, wasn’t sure what I wanted it to be about but decided against slating Sky for their series of unforgivable mistakes in attempting to get me online, congratulating Talk Talk for their more than adequate service or talking about our move from Lewes, East Sussex to Canterbury, Kent. Instead I thought I’d talk about the incredible experience of Lewes Bonfire; I’ve been at the celebration for the last 4 years but only really got stuck into the crowd for the first time this year, which just happens to be the year I moved away from Lewes.
My girlfriend and I only lived in Lewes for a year, August 2009 to 2010, and had to travel down from our new home in Canterbury to be around on November 5th but it was something we had to do; having worked in Lewes for the last 3 years and going to college there several years ago that small amount of time living in the town quickly stabilised it as our adopted home.
Right, so onto the Bonfire – Started out at The Volunteer pub, busier than usual of course, just apint or two I told myself then I’ll go for a walk, which I did! Ended up around the train station, not much going on until suddenly, out of nowhere, Southover Bonfire Society appeared pushing me to the side of the soon to be jam-packed street; I swiftly realised the order of the evening, one of overcrowded streets, loud bangs, colourful costumes and possible dangerous encounters! Not long after, the streets were full and I was on my way to The Volunteer’s roof to capture the societies at their best, that’s where I managed to capture the first two shots here of Cliffe Bonfire Society’s amazing torch lit procession.
Next it was time for me to get immersed in the crowd, which is where I knew I would find some great perspectives, by this time I had obviously had more than that one or two pints I had promised myself which I think probably allowed me to throw away some of my inhibitions and jump head first into the front of the crowd, having my Canon SLR definitely helped with this, there were so many people who automatically apologised for being in my way and assumed I was more important than them because of my professional looking equipment. As the procession headed into Cliffe High Street I became the proverbial rabbit caught in the headlights as the front of the Bonfire Societies and a senior Police Officer came toward me at speed; the procession was not as accommodating as my fellow spectators and a lot of them seemed to look at the crowds with disgust, I got the distinct feeling that they didn’t like their tightly packed supporters and the senior Police Officer leading the procession ensuring the spectators were at a safe distance, I decided not to include those negative shots but instead thought you’d enjoy these images of the back of the procession heading off, the red torches really provided a great lighting situation in the image
to the left entitled Red Skull. The shot to the right was a proper right place right time moment, I got so many images of the crowd as a whole but trying to get right in the thick of the action was a bit more dangerous, nevertheless this image of a Lewes Borough Bonfire Society Barrel Boy came out extremely well and was even featured as one of Viva Lewes’ pictures of the week: www.vivalewes.co.uk. During this crazy few minutes of clicking away I took so many shots, I don’t even remember shooting the one below but am so glad I did, I love the feel of it, the Custodian in the foreground looking out onto the slowly dispersing crowd and other Officers in the background trying to keep order gives the image a 19th century feel just like the ‘Red Skull’ image with the cobbled streets and old style street lights.
After this somehow I ended up in School Hill, following a slow swim through the sea of spectators, just in time to capture a shot I’m sure many people got. Cliffe Bonfire Society’s amazing tab crashed through the streets Godzilla style! I think the colours on this image really give it something the other shots just don’t have, it feels dark and evil to a certain extent and I love David Cameron’s focused red eyes here!
Right so what next, back to the pub? If I can make it! School Hill is less than 1 minute away from The Volunteer but from what I remember it must have taken me almost 20 minutes to push through the waves of people all seemingly going the other way, when I did get there however I managed to get out of the way and capture this colourful image of just how crowded the streets were.
And finally everything seemed calm, people began to move toward the bonfire sites dotted around Lewes and their respective pubs and I began shooting the aftermath which weren’t great images so left them out here.
At this point I thought I’d better get off to a bonfire site for some generic firework and crowd shots, so I started towards the Waterloo site, but before I got there I somehow ended up in a random warehouse underground nightclub thing! Now this was a first for me and something I really wasn’t expecting but I still enjoyed it and to my surprise everyone was very friendly, there were no drugs to my knowledge and the people there were all just enjoying the night. I wish I had got there earlier on in the night to use their great view of the Waterloo Bonfire site over the river for some immense original shots. Anyway, I still shot this random fairy light and chair combo there and a few other images.
For me Lewes Bonfire was an intense and fast paced experience this year and I will most definitely be going back again and again and again, possibly drinking less and working more on getting some great shots. Still although I may have not really concentrated for the entire evening I really think I came out of it with some nice original images and even managed to capture one last photo when I got back, it seems the processions were running late and when I got back to The Volunteer those intense red torches were still moving through the street in one last salute to November 5th 2010!
I hope you enjoyed my Blog of Lewes Bonfire 2010, please comment and let me know what you think of my images. To keep up to date with what I’m doing follow me on Twitter: JJFA87.
If you’d like to buy any of the featured shots you will find them at jjfa.redbubble.com, if the one you want isn’t there let me know and I’ll add it. If you are from one of the Societies featured and you’d like some original electronic copies just send me an email and we’ll see what we can do.
© All images featured copyright JJFA 2010. All rights reserved.