Obama Visits Number 10

Barack Obama, US Democratic presidential candidate visited Gordon Brown at 10 Downing Street yesterday. Not being a head of state, one would imagine there wouldn’t be a huge media presence there. However, there must have been around 150 members of the press. Colleagues who had covered George Bush’s last visit to Downing Street told me that there were only around 20 press for his visit!

During this kind of visit, it pays to get to Downing Street to reserve a spot early; very early. The visit was to start at 9am, and I got there just gone 7am. However I know friends who’d been there from 6am!
Bruno Vincent and a colleague fix their remote cameras to the scaffolding.
One of the nice things about the job was the huge American media attache who were travelling with the senator. I got a chance to chat to a few of my colleagues from across the pond; its quite funny that one can strike up a conversation with a total stranger. With the common element of photography and our passion for what we do, the conversation just flows!

Alas the whole side of the street we were on was covered in scaffolding which made getting a good spot even harder. Due to some good luck and a chat with the Police I managed to bag a spot directly opposite the door of number 10 – perfect!
The two hour wait for the senator’s departure and press conference.
The only down side to this is that it means you really can’t use direct flash as the door is a high gloss black which reflects really badly. Being a fan of natural light this wouldn’t normally worry me. However, as luck would have it, it was a very bright sunny day. This sun though was falling on number 10, and half way through the street was shadow. Where the senator was due to stand for his press conference was in the shaded area, and as a result the back ground was at least 4 stops brighter! Normally I’d try and balance this by using flash, but this just wasn’t possible.
Luckily I was using Canon 1D MkIII bodies (and a 5D). On the MkIIIs, there is a highlight tone priority custom function which helps with trying to eliminate blown highlights. The problem was that the exposure latitude between the extremes was too much for this custom function to cure on its own. I ended up having to slightly underexpose the foreground. But shooting in RAW and using Apple Aperture (which has a great restore and highlight feature) meant that I could get the images right. The combination of the camera’s custom function and software worked perfectly.
Apart from this technical issue with light, the scaffolding and the large number of us squeezed together like sardines, the day actually went quite well!

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