Bank Holiday weekend and Mardi Gras (Gay Pride) / by Neil Alexander

Well as Bank Holidays go, it wasn't half bad. Didn't get off to a great start though. Hiked up Holcombe Hill nearRamsbottom to try and get some shots of the sun rising over the Manchester skyline. Admittitedly, Manchester is around 10 miles from here as the crow files, but you can see everything and I figured with my 500mm lens, I should be able to get something. I made it up there about half 5, about half an hour before sunrise with brew in hand. It was a little misty on the way up and when I reached the summit, I could just about see my hand in front of my face! Pretty gutted to say the least as its a 45 min drive from home, and then a 20-30 minute hike. I waited and waited for the mist to lift, but by half 6 it become quite apparent that the mist was going nowhere!

So I packed everything up, finished my brew and headed off into Manchester where the skies weren't much better. When I got there, the light was pretty drab too. So wandered into a coffee shop and took a load off while I waited to see if the light would improve. It didn't! So I concentrated on China Town and on some close ups and tried to keep the sky out of the frame whereever possible. Got a few possible keepers, but not had time to go through them yet so we'll see later today.

As it was Mardi-Gras, or what they're now calling Manchester Pride, I thought I'd head back into town for the procession and try and get some candids of people watching the parade. The procession itself didn't really interest me as there were more photographers than you can shake a stick at shooting the floats and entourage. My first really foray into this kinda thing and it was quite rewarding. From a quick flick through afterwards, I may have a few keepers. One shot especially of a copper in the procession blowing an orange whistle with all his might particularily stands out.

Made it back into town again for dawn Monday morning. It was a real struggle removing myself from my pit as a result of the copiuos Rioja consumption the night before, and I really felt pretty dreadful. With hindsight, I should have sacked it off and stayed in bed, but I forced myself to head out. Though the light was really fantastic, I felt totally uninspired and truly knackered. Managed 1 shot and decided to bail out and head back to bed. It was typical that the best light I've seen for ages, and I just couldn't motivate myself. Will have to try and make up for this by heading out again this week.

I'm also toying with venturing back into film. I've recently subscribed to B&W magazine which is truly an inspiring read, and I've got my eye on a 500 series Hasselblad at the moment. Will head off to PDF in Ardwick maybe today or tomorrow and see what they've got. There's something about the contrast and the feeling that black and white film captures that you just can't get with Digital. Don't get me wrong, digital certainly has its uses, and I will never abandon it, but in the interests of expanding my skills and improving my photography, I feel that I need to make a serious venture into either medium or large format.

On a sad note to end. Its a sorry day for football today. It looks like the legend that is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is going to announce he's hanging up his boots today. He is the nicest guy you could meet and an inspiration for many footballers the world over. Aside from winning us the Champions League in '99, he has played some magnificent football for us and will be sadly missed.