I had a train to catch, alarm set 04:30!!! It was going to be a very early start for todays shoot. Hyde park was my destination for the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. Traditionally the first car on the road starts at ‘first light’….06:59 to be precise!

It was very much still dark when I arrived at Hyde Park. A sound track of hissing & puffing accompanied the sight of stunning vehicles, every one over 100 years old. It’s not every day you see candle powered headlights!!

Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run 2018 at Hyde Park

Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run 2018 event photography by Ian Skelton Photography

The ceremonial start is symbolised by the tearing of a red flag. This year that pleasure fell to Yasmin Le Bon & Christian Horner

As the dawn broke over the Wellington Arch, the cars headed off on their 60 miles drive to Brighton. The route took them through the Arch before heading down Constitution Hill.

Dawn breaks on the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run 2018 at Hyde Park

Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run 2018 at Hyde Park

Movember was very popular on the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run 2018 at Hyde Park

The cars made their way past Buckingham Palace, then along The Mall towards Whitehall before crossing Westminster Bridge.

London landmarks on Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run 2018 at Hyde Park

Sadly not all the cars would make it to Brighton. Some would not even make it very far at all & the RAC vans were following along behind in support.

RAC vans support the back makers in Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run 2018 at Hyde Park

Heading back home for editing at 10am, having been up 5 hours already & the shoot is done. I have not been to the Bonhams London to Brighton Veteran Car Run before. I will certainly be back next year, Mrs S might even come too. Being able to get so close to the cars in Hyde Park is great for spectators… then once the cars have gone you can fid a nice place for breakfast & you still have your whole day ahead of you!!

“Like buses… been ages since a Royal Wedding & then we get 2 in one year!!!”

As soon as the news broke with the date for The Royal Wedding of Princess Eugenie & Jack Brooksbank, it went straight into my diary. The carriage procession route wasn’t going to be the same as for Prince Harry & Meghan, so my fantastic balcony view point wasn’t going to be available this time.

The Two Brewers pub sign news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Definitely not the worse place to use as my base for The Royal wedding of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank in Windsor

This time the carriage procession would be much shorter. It would leave the castle & come along the High Street before turning left through Cambridge Gate & back into the castle. Next door to Cambridge Gate is the lovely Two Brewers pub. We have been there a number of times for Sunday Lunch & their Christmas Carol singing. They decided to have a special menu for the Royal Wedding… so it seemed rude not to book a table & secure myself a good camera spot!!

Princess Eugenie and Prince Andrew arriving news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Princess Eugenie and Prince Andrew arrive up the Long Walk in a Rolls Royce

The Two Brewers opened nice and early to provide ‘refreshments’. It wasn’t a bad spot either to catch the arrival of the Bride before the 11 o’clock ceremony. The pub had the TV on for those that wanted to watch it. I couldn’t risk losing my place by the barrier, but the landlord kept me up to date. Stuart came out to say that “the carriage was about to leave the castle…they’ll be in view very soon!” Right on time the crowd down on the High Street started to cheer & wave their flags.

Police Officer waves a flag at royal wedding news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

A female police officer waves a union flag during The Royal wedding of Princess Eugenie and Jack Brooksbank in Windsor

In no time at all the lead horses were coming down Park Street towards me. I recognised the Head Groomsman from Harry & Meghan’s procession. It was clear he recognised Stuart too !!!

Lead Groomsman in royal wedding carriage procession news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Beautiful Windsor Grey horses lead the The Royal Wedding carriage procession

Princess Eugenie royal wedding carriage & groomsman news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

The lead Groomsman sends a wink to his friend at The Two Brewers

I had a split second to fire off a few frames before the carriage was past me through Cambridge Gate.

The Royal wedding of Princess Eugenie & Jack Brooksbank in Windsor

Princess Eugenie waves from carriage news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

A wave for the photographer …..

Then they were gone, back into the castle to start their celebrations with the guests. It was time for me to put the camera kit away & head into The two Brewers to start our celebrations & toast the happy couple! Ohhh & enjoy a rather lovely Beef Wellington…

“Not since the coronation has there been as many aircraft taking part than in the RAF 100 Centenary Flypast”

When you see a headline like that, as a photographer you’ve got to go & capture a small piece of history. The RAF 100 Centenary Flypast had been publicised in the press & online that 100 aircraft would take part. After Buckingham Palace reports said the flypast would split in 3 directions. One route would go pretty close to my house on transit over Windsor Castle… but which aircraft would take which route? Only one way to be sure, I had to be on The Mall….quite a few other people had the same idea!!!

crowds in the mall during RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

The Mall is full towards Buckingham Palace

Over 1000 Servicemen & women marched from Horse Guards Parade, down The Mall to the forecourt of Buckingham Palace. Once they were in place, security opened up the road for the public to find a place ready for the flypast. On the dot of 1:00pm the first aircraft, well helicopters actually, came into view over Admiralty Arch.

The Fly Past….

helicopter fly past during RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Puma HC2, Juno H135, Jupiter H145 & Chinook HC4 helicopter flight

These were followed by a series of aircraft from WW2 & the Battle of Britain Flight,

WW2 Battle of Britain flight during RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Avro Lancaster Bomber, Spitfires & Hurricans from WW2

Dakota DC3 during RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

De havilland Dakota DC3 trooper transport aircraft

trainer aircraft during RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Tucano T1 & Prefect T1 trainer aircraft

hawk trainer aircraft during RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Hawk T1 & T2 Trainer aircraft (….they fooled a few in the crowd who thought it was the Red Arrows!!!)

Transport & Surveillance aircraft were then followed by more modern day fighter jets

Hercules C130 & the Airbus A400M during RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Hercules C130 & the Airbus A400M military cargo aircraft

Sentinel during RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Sentinel

Rivet Joint RC-135W Jet during RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Rivet Joint RC-135W Jet

Sentry AEWS during RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

E-3D Sentry …Airborne Early Warning System

Tornado GR4 jets during RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

The ever dependable Tornado GR4 fighter bombers

Lighning jets during RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

The RAF brand new Lighning Jets…seen for the first time in a public display

Typhoon jets spell out 100 formation during RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Typhoon FGR4 Fighter Jets spell out 100 formation

But no Flypast would be complete without our fantastic world famous RAF Red Arrows…… Smoke ONNNN!!!

The red Arrows over the mall during RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

The Arrows Arrive in Big Battle formation over the crowd

Red Arrows during RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Red White & Blue

Red arrows over Buckingham Palace during RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

The Red Arrows depart over Buckingham Palace

No sooner had the last of the smoke cleared so did most of the crowds….

So it was chance to walk around with the trusty Nikon & see what else could catch my eye. I looked around it was now clear to see there were blue uniforms everywhere. The Mall was filled with serving members of the RAF, retired veterans & young RAF Cadets about to start their careers. All could say “The RAF Centenary 100 flypast, in 2018…. I saw that, I was there!”

cadets pose for photos during RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Proud day for young RAF Cadets

RAF cadets Buckingham Palace during RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

RAF Cadets in front of Buckingham Palace

As with my wildlife photography, it’s often better to find a good spot & then wait for the images to come to you rather than chase them. People everywhere were having a great day & really got into the spirit of the celebration!!

man with union flag during RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

…a lot of patriotic fans in the crowd, but non more so than this man!

man in 100 T shirt during RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

…great T shirt

My eye caught this RAF pin badge forgotten & left on top of a bollard. As I framed up this shot, to my right I heard police motorbikes firing up…

Well, it was too good an opportunity to miss as I was in a great spot for a different angle. So into the middle of the road I went….” Are you going to pull out in full CHiPS formation (showing my age there) or one behind the other?” I shouted across to an officer as he put his helmet on….”I’ll be happy if I stay on it with you being there ready to catch the shot!!” he replied laughing.

Police rider pull outduring RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

CHiPS…. I’m showing my age there!!!

Police motorcycle rider during RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

J Patrol

Police motorcycles during RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

….Straight on lads

And then it was gone, all over. The Mall returned almost to normal, the crowds had left, the road being cleared. Ready for the trucks to arrive with the traffic lights to be refitted.

The mall after RAF 100 centenary fly past news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

….& then they were gone!!

There’s always a story to be told & photo to be taken everywhere. You just have to keep your eyes open & be ready to grab the moment…. oh & try not to get run over!!!

“Anybody near Manchester & available to cover the Saddleworth Moor fires?”

Saddleworth Moor Fires, was the attention grabbing title of an email that landed in my inbox one evening from Spacesuit Media.  They were casting the net to see if any of their photographers were able to cover this ever developing story. “….I’m not, I’m down here in Ashford, but I’m up for a different challenge…I’ll go!”

I had heard the village of Carrbrook near Stalybridge being mentioned on the news. The firefighters had been working a for a few days trying to hold the fire back from reaching properties. So I entered Carrbrook into the SatNav & was soon on my way up the M6, back to where I grew up. I was born in Ashton-Under-Lyne & up until I was about 18, lived in Denton, about 8 miles from Stalybridge.

You have reached your destination…

Working on the theory that, if I aimed for Carrbrook, as I got close I would start to see & smell the smoke from the fires. I could then form a more detailed plan once I had a better idea of the scene. My plan couldn’t have worked any better. Approaching a crossroads, the SatNav said “You have reached your destination!” Just as a Fire Engine (Pump, the lads say it’s called) came down the road from my left & stopped at a stand-pipe…RESULT. I went over & introduced myself to the crew, told them who I was & what I was there to do. “Well, in that case let us fill this water tank up first & you can follow us up…. we’ll show you where is safe to park”

A fire engine drives through Carrbrook quarry during Saddleworth Moor Fire news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

A Fire Engine heads back up to the fire line with another 1000 gallons

There were 6 Pumps & crews working out of this isolated quarry above Carrbrook. Being up the middle of the moors there was no water mains to hook into, so any water to fight the fires would have to be carried up. In relays they were having to drive down into Carrbrook, fill their 1000 gallon water tanks….

Drive back up to the quarry side & then ‘pump’ water up the sheer rock face to another Pump on the ridge. From there firefighters were running out hoses to the fire line & dousing down the charred moorland. A well ‘oiled’ logistical machine was in full flow & pretty impressive to watch it was too!

Pumping water up quarry side during Saddleworth Moor Fire news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Water pumped from one truck up the quarry face to the fire line high on ridge

Up on the ridge…

Water was being moved (Sorry….Pumped) around to where they needed it. The constantly changing wind direction was creating an additional challenge for the firefighters. One crew pumps it’s 1000 gallons of water up the rock face, to another crew on the ridge to fight the fire

2 Pump crews were working different ends of the fire line. While one crew were putting out small flash fires, another crew were continuing to douse down the hot peaty ground.  One firefighter described it as “….been like playing ‘Splat-A-Rat’ for days! No sooner we put an area out, the fire travels underground through the peat & pops out somewhere else”

A fire fighter hoses down flash fires during Saddleworth Moor Fire news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

A firefighter hoses down flash fires on Saddleworth Moor

I hadn’t fully understood what our amazing firefighters actually have to do to deal with a fire like this. The ground itself was so hot in parts, that it was burning through the hoses!! While firefighters are at one end of the hose fighting the fire itself. Another is going along the length of hose watering down to keep it cool.

A fire fighter cools hoses during Saddleworth Moor Fire news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

A firefighter hoses down hoses to prevent the hot earth burning through them during the Saddleworth Moor Fire

This only works as long as you have water & once that 1000 gallons is all used up, the ground gets hot again!!! Those hoses have to be dragged back in to protect them, until the next Pump delivers it’s load. Then the whole process starts over & the firefighters drag the hoses back out again….

Firefighter drags hoses over hot ground during Saddleworth Moor Fire news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Hoses going out again over the hot lunar landscape

The firefighters were doing some really long shifts. The usual end of shift ‘relief’ crews were busy fighting the moor fires themselves in other areas. Extra crews where being brought in from surrounding areas, a massive team effort. Tired & exhausted they were but you can imagine the ‘out of area’ banter that was flying around….absolutely hilarious!!! Finally they had time to sit, have a brew & wait for the ride home to arrive!

Firefighters take a break during Saddleworth Moor Fire news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Fire Fighters take a well earned break

A fire crews change shifts during Saddleworth Moor Fire news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Crews brief over a cup of tea

The job for the new crews was about to carry on, many had been here the days before too. Hand over briefing done, there was no time to look at the stunning sunset that was developing (…that was my job) It was straight on with pumping that water up on to the ridge.

Photography is quite literally about ‘drawing with light’. This light is often especially magical during ‘Golden Hour’ around sunset… the scenes up on those moors were a photographer’s dream. Out of destruction & devastation there was stunning beauty…. No, not you Green Watch!!!

A fire fighter against sunset on Saddleworth Moor Fire news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

A firefighter hoses down the hot earth as the sun sets on Saddleworth Moor

I have to say that it was an honour & a privilege to be able to spend a few hours up on the Moors with these firefighters. They kept an eye on me in case my artistic head took over & I put myself somewhere stupid!! A massive thank you to all the crews but especially Wythenshaw – White Watch, Jean-Pierre for letting me get right in the thick of it & keeping an eye on me. Not forgetting Steve from Eccles  – Green Watch for the lift.

I hope I caught the feeling of what it was like up there fighting the Saddleworth Moor fire. I tried to tell the story from your side…. there are enough photos of burning heather!!!

A larger collection of my photos from the shoot can be seen by

“What are you doing on Saturday 19th?” That was the opening line over a Sunday lunch with friends one afternoon. At the time we didn’t realise it would be the end of a crazy mad 8 days of photography for me.

We, that is myself & Mrs S were very lucky to have been invited to a party by friends that live on the Long Walk in Windsor. Their house had a prime spot on the route for The Royal Wedding of Prince Harry & Meghan Markle. “Bring your camera with you….I’m sure you’ll get a nice photo or 2!!” Well, it would be rude not to…wouldn’t it 🙂

I had kept an ear on TV & radio reports in the run up to Saturday. Windsor was quite clearly going to be packed with estimates of more than 120,000 people lining the route. To be safe we caught the 7am train to be sure of getting in to Windsor with time to spare. It was a good move & on the walk to the house we could see plenty of people were in position early. Once we arrived, I quickly set up & checked the view point to lock in my camera settings. It wasn’t a bad spot was it?

The Royal Wedding of Prince Harry & Meghan Markle photography by Ian Skelton Photography

My view of the Royal Wedding route

We then had time to chill. Help prepare food & maybe a cheeky glass in readiness before we watched the build up on TV. It’s quite surreal being in middle of such a big event & watching it live on TV all around you. It was funny watching Prince Harry & Megan say their vows & listening to the cheers of the crowd at the end of the garden watching it on the huge screens. Before long it was time to take up my position on the balcony…they were leave St Georges Chapel.

The crowds twitched below me in expectation. Then up at the corner, to a Mexican Wave of cheering & Union flags, the lead troops of the Household Cavalry came into view. My view of the newly weds was totally blocked. I now knew I would only have a few seconds as they made the slight right bend in the road.

Household Cavalry lead procession Prince Harry & Meghan Markle royal wedding news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Life Guards from the Household Cavalry head the procession

Sure enough the cavalry lead the way around the bend & Prince Harry & Megan finally came into view. I fired of a burst of frames, at almost 11 frames per second!! Thank goodness the Nikon D4 is built with Press & Sports photographers in mind.

Blues & Royals follow Prince Harry & Meghan Markle royal wedding news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

The Blues & Royals from the Household Cavalry follow behind the carriage

Then a magic moment I had hoped for. Prince Harry spotted something or somebody on a balcony & pointed it out to his new bride.

Prince Harry & Meghan Markle royal wedding news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Prince Harry points out something to Meghan

Megan noticed it (I heard it might have been a dog wearing a wedding veil fancy dress outfit) & her reaction was a photographer’s dream.

Prince Harry & Meghan Markle royal wedding news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Meghan sees what Harry was point to …. I believe it was a dog wearing a bride’s head dress

Prince Harry & Meghan Markle royal wedding news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Awwwww…. Meghan sees the dog in the bride’s veil

As the carriage continued along the road, I quickly repositioned so I could track them from the side now. Another quick burst of frames & I captured my favourite image of the day.

Prince Harry & Meghan Markle royal wedding news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Meghan smiling as she waves to the crowds

black and white close up of Prince Harry & Meghan Markle royal wedding news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Black & White – Prince Harry’s black uniform dress coat – Meghan’s white wedding dress

close up of the bouquet Prince Harry & Meghan Markle royal wedding news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Meghan holds Prince Harry’s hand with her bouquet on her lap

In literally seconds (34 to be exact looking at my data) they were passed me & heading down towards Albert Road. I had a few moments to get off the balcony & into the 2nd position I had recced earlier that morning. I wasn’t sure how it would look until they actually came up The Long Walk. I thought it might be a nice image to see all the cheering crowds in the foreground as the came by in the carriage… I think it worked out quite well in the end.

spectators wave flags for Prince Harry & Meghan Markle royal wedding news photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Well Wishers wave British & American flags on The Long Walk as the carriage passes by

What a week…

7 days earlier I had been trackside at probably the most iconic race circuit in the world. Achieving a lifetime ambition to see F1 cars on this track. Working as a motorsport photographer at the Monaco Historic Grand Prix. I flew back into Heathrow on the Monday & got straight into finishing the editing of what ended up being over 6000 images!! A small gallery from the final collection can be seen by just clicking here.

On Thursday I had attended Richmond Park to photograph the planting ceremonies of 6 sponsored Elm Trees. It was a very pleasant surprise when I found out a few days before that 1 of the trees was sponsored by Sir David Attenborough.

So, Monaco Historic Grand Prix…. Sir David Attenborough ….. & now hanging off a balcony at The Royal Wedding!! Not a bad week as a snapper I’d say.

As you probably know I love to spend time in Richmond Park & my love of the big Red Deer stags. So today it was a pleasure to spend a morning photographing a project Elm Tree Walk in Richmond Park . The Friends of Richmond Park & The Royal Parks had been working together to plant over 40 Elm Trees. These would form an avenue either side of the path from Petersham Gate.

Elm Tree Walk in Richmond Park photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Elm Tree Walk in Richmond Park

Elm Tree Walk in Richmond Park photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Planting the Elm Trees – who would be the lucky ones to use the spade (Left) used by Mer Majesty the Queen a few years ago?

Once a mainstay of the English landscape for centuries, Elm trees have now largely disappeared. There have been no mature Elms in Richmond Park since the 1970s. Dutch Elm disease swept through the country spread by beetles & other wildlife. This caused a rapid decaying of the crown before eventually killing the whole tree. Not only did Elm trees disappear from the countryside but so did many species of insects & wildlife specific to the Elm. The project has selected special disease-resistant trees to plant in the Elm Walk. In time, & hopefully over a lifespan of several hundred years, the trees will enhance encourage the specific wildlife to return to the park.

Sir David Attenborough at Elm Tree Walk in Richmond Park photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Sir David Attenborough at the Elm Walk information board

Members of the Public & organisations had been given the chance to sponsor each tree. Then come along to a planting ceremony of their tree in the park. Tree No1 was to be planted by Sir David Attenborough, a gift to commemorate his 90th birthday.

Sir David Attenborough Elm Tree Walk in Richmond Park photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Sir David Attenborough & his Elm Tree

Elm Tree Walk in Richmond Park photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Planting No1 Elm Tree, Sir David Attenborough didn’t mind getting stuck in

Elm Tree Walk in Richmond Park photography by Ian Skelton Photography

Sir David imagining the view in years to come

It will be very interesting to watch these young trees develop & create a beautiful canopy along the path. Thank you for asking me to be a small part of the history of Richmond Park.

Every now & then an event is too good to miss from a photography point of view. Her Majesty the Queen’s 90th birthday celebrations in Windsor this week was just such an event!

I had been keeping an eye on the various press reports of the planned activities & timetable for the day. So it was an early start to try to get a good spot on the barriers outside Windsor Castle. There was a great atmosphere building as the crowd grew deeper & deeper, all having fun while they excitedly waited for the Queen to appear.

D4A_7878 webwm D4A_7913 webwm D4A_7973 webwmD4A_8004 webwm

On the dot of 12:00 the band of the Coldstream Guards struck up ‘Happy Birthday’ as the castle gates opened & the Queen’s limousine glided into view. Soon the Queen & the Duke of Edinburgh were walking down the road talking to the crowd of well wishers. A bit of luck meant I was on the correct side of the road for the Queen to walk by giving me chance to grab a couple of nice photos of her before she swapped sides & made her way down the hill.

D4A_8031 webwm D4A_8075 webwm

As soon as the Queen was out of my lens sights, I quickly cut down a side alley to get ahead of her. The crowd by the side of the Guildhall was 5 or 6 people deep everywhere, even up on top of pub tables to get a view. I managed to find a small gap on the corner big enough to get my 70-200mm zoom through….then wait in the hope the Queen looked my way!

D4A_8120 webwm D4A_8140 webwm

D4A_8149 webwm

I couldn’t believe it, the Queen glanced up & looked straight down my lens….right place, right time, right settings!!  Then they were off in the open topped Range Rover to drive through the centre of Windsor. My cue to be off again down another short cut & get myself in place ready for the car to return to the castle .

D4A_8165 webwm D4A_8178 webwm

That was the rushing around done for the day. I was now able to chill a little, grab a bite of lunch & then find myself another prime spot on the barrier & wait for the finale of the day the lighting of the beacon at Cambridge Gate….another 6 hours from now!!!

D4A_8309 webwmD4A_8421-2 webwm

A long but really enjoyable day & great memories. Hope the Queen enjoyed her Happy Birthday as much as I did….