Happy Camera has been merely a very happy thought for a few months now and tonight is the inaugural taster of what's to come when all that is happy is fully released on the world. A small band of diehard photographers congregate at the foot of Tower Bridge wondering if the rain gods are going to be kind, it transpires that they're not. We huddle under one of the arches and discuss what photography makes us tick, or "happy" if you will. Tonight we're going to start with some long exposure night landscapes featuring the Shard across the Thames. Luckily my new tripod turned up on time but I should really have practiced setting it up more, and maybe blindfolded. Tripod erection is an entirely different premise when it's dark, your unfamiliar fingers are cold and you can't quite fathom which way the locking plate needs to be. But I get there in the end.
I've only got 8 seconds available to me in shutter priority mode so have to switch to manual for more control and a longer time. Though with an ISO of 80 I'm able to manage with 8 second on my smallest aperture f/8 and capture the milkiness of the Thames before a passing boat chops it up again. We'd been promised a clearish window of no rain for a couple of hours but no, this non-dry January continues and the rain is relentless. I just can't seem to operate both an umbrella and a camera. It's easier when your camera is on a tripod but still the whole holding an umbrella, trying to find a nice composition and keeping said umbrella out of shot just annoys me.
My camera demonstrates, yet again, that relatively few raindrops can thoroughly drown it and I'm furiously trying to keep the lens free from being besieged. I swing my camera around to Tower Bridge. Actually the new rain drops that that are speckling my camera lens are creating an interesting effect and, as clearly the rain isn't going to get any better, I might as well work with it.
We then head over the bridge and try our hand at light painting. Some of our group are fading and slowly peeling off to either get a head start on the bar we're meeting at later or homewards and a warm bath. Our first challenge is capture the vibrant squiggles from an LED torch and then to photograph a series of 'happy' logos against a backdrop of the Shard again and other iconic buildings. My camera is now experiencing a massive sulk. One moment I can focus and play around with shutter speed next my viewfinder is just filled with a total whiteout. Our happy tutor suspects the rain is sending the electrics a bit haywire well that's not alarming at all!
I'm just about defeated, I'm cold, my lovely bobble hat is a mushy mess and my camera is fluctuating between begrudgingly joining in or refusing to do anything. I'm think it's time to dry us and our equipment off so to the bar we squelch.
Those who have headed off earlier are warm and dry and peering over a Mac learning some of the dark arts of Photoshop. We're planning what our next happy adventure will be. It's been fun but we are hoping for a dryer night next time!