Circus Wonderland

2018 marks exactly 250 years since Philip Astley began the first circus in the UK, and Circus Wonderland is in town. Showing off his horse riding prowess on a circular indoor track, Astley apparently filled the gaps between his acts with jugglers, magicians and the likes, and the circus was born.

The last couple of weeks have been easter holidays, so I took my son on a wednesday evening, opening night. We bought some £2.50 candy floss and settled down for the two hours, near the back with a good, slightly elavated, clear view down a walkway between seats.

Knowing it would be dark, I had to think carefully about what film I would shoot. I had two real options with the film available to me. Ektar (a slow colour film, entailing lots of blur) or HP5 which I could push to get grainy black and white photos. I went with the latter.

The light was very low with extremely bright spotlights, often facing right towards me. Shutter speeds were slow and I had to shoot wide open. This meant metering, focusing, and stopping camera shake were all pretty challenging. I assumed I would get little, if anything worthwhile. However, I was really happy with the results. Quite an eary and mysterious feel to it all.

Comedy duo Popol and Kakehole, acrobatics, juggling, magic: it was an impressive show to behold. I shot one roll throughout the two hours, many shots at 1/60s, some at 1/30s or 1/15s. It became difficult to get interesting shots, being in the dame position the whole time but I think it worked out well enough.

When prepping the film for developing I cut off the last few frames (such an idiot). I was pretty hopefully for the last shot, but alas it is gone. The sometimes unforgiving nature of film photography strikes again.


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