Every year for one weekend in August Ramsey and the people who visit take a step back in time and celebrate the 1940s. The weekend kicks off on a Saturday, this year it's the 22nd August, and the weekend is finished off with music and dancing. The event, which you can find more information about on the Ramsey 1940's weekend website, is a great place to take your camera to and you're also guaranteed to have some fun while you are there. If you can't get to Ramsey there are plenty of other events that take place right across the country.
Photo by Peter Bargh. Taken at a re-enactment event.
If you arrive before the crowds then a 50mm lens is perfect for capturing people in costume but when the masses arrive or if you like to have a little more versatility, pack a zoom lens that gives you wide to mid-range focal lengths. A tripod's always helpful, particularly if you're heading to the dance in the evening when the light will be lower. They can be a little clunky and can get in the way though so you may like the flexibility a monopod gives you instead. Flash may be handy in the evening, but you could just turn up your ISO slightly or pop your camera on a tripod and use slightly longer shutter speeds.
Picking A Subject
When you arrive you'll find plenty of people dressed in 1940s clobber and RAF uniforms who are perfect for a nostalgic portrait shot or two. Some people will be so fabulously dressed they'll just shout: 'photograph me' at you but make sure you take a good walk around to see who else is hiding among the vehicles and stalls. You could get a few candid snaps of the crowds as you do so too.
Photo by Peter Bargh.
Ask If It's OK
When you do find your subject make sure you ask their permission and don't be in a hurry to photograph them where they stand as you could look back and realise you have a modern car or burger van ruining your shot. You can try and throw the ugly background out of focus but if you have the time, make the effort to chat to your subject and ask them to move somewhere that's more appropriate. You still may want to throw the background out of focus and leave all the attention on your subject, but at least the blurred objects and shapes will be more fitting to the era you're trying to capture. If you can, do take your time when you're looking through the viewfinder and pay particular attention to their costume. It's amazing how straightening a skirt or fastening up a button can make a big difference to the overall shot.
If you hang around for the dance you'll need fast shutter speeds to freeze the action on the dance floor or put your camera on a tripod and slow your shutter speeds to blur the movement of the skirts/dresses as they spin around. There will also be plenty of candids off the dance floor such as to capture too.
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