How to photograph Anzac Day
For the past decade, I haven’t attended an Anzac Day without my camera.
Ever since I got my newspaper cadetship when I was 18, I’ve photographed at least one Anzac Day service a year, probably more.
One year, way back when, I shot a dawn service in Batemans Bay, then a morning march and service at Tomakin, then Batemans Bay’s main parade and service, then caught the end of an event in Moruya.
Four minutes silence and probably 1000 frames.
By the end of that day, and all the Anzac Days that followed it, you might forgive me for thinking that all the parades and the services are basically the same.
Marching, cheering, wreath laying, standing solemnly.
Different town. Maybe different weather. But all basically the same.
Seen one, seen them all, right?
Anzac Day is one of my favourite events to photograph, and while there are certain photos you need to capture (crowd, mayor, guest speaker, march, diggers, etc) there’s so many other one-off moments to try and land on your camera’s sensor.
Take the above photo of a mayor about to lay a wreath. I shot it at Myrtleford a couple of years ago, and it was a gamble.
I saw the gate, I saw the sun, and knew there was a picture there … if the mayor happened to walk a certain way to the Cenotaph. There was maybe a one-in-five chance he would walk my way.
Running my cameras in aperture priority with a flash in the hotshoe dialled down 2/3 of a stop, maybe more, just to fill in shadows, I squished myself and my wide 16mm lens, in behind the gate, hit the exposure lock button with my crosshairs on the sky, then moved my crosshairs to the gate and half pressed the shutter button.
Popped a test shot and saw that the sun looked like a big bright blob.
Changed to a small aperture, f16, and tried again. Now the sun looked like the sun (with a star pattern-shape).
Then I waited with camera to my eye. And hoped. And prayed Canon’s sometimes drunk flash metering system wouldn’t throw me a spanner.
Keep in mind I’m shooting into the sun, and that sun is pouring in through my viewfinder, piercing through my sunnies and scorching itself into the back of my eyeball.
(If I had this shot over, I’d have used my camera’s liveview.)
Eventually, I heard them announce the mayor’s name on the loudspeakers, then a sillouete flashed into my frame and I squeezed the button.
Got up and ran to the Cenotaph to shoot another bunch of shots of the mayor with my other camera with the 70-200 attached.
Only after that do I spare a second to review my shot, which I hope you’ll agree, was well worth the hassle.
Canon 1D Mk IV with 16-35mm lens @ 16mm, 1/300th, f16 and ISO 400.
Want to know more? Please ask me anything here.
Shot for The Border Mail.