The Battle, the Oak and the Lens.

During July 2017 I was asked to shoot some head shots to promote my friends face painting business, http://www.whatsaface.co.uk. This was to be at Hatfield House in Hertfordshire. Hatfield House was hosting this years Battle Proms and Folk by the Oak festival, so there would be other things to photograph over the weekend.

The entrance to the fields are directly opposite the station. However as I wandered down to the Queen Elizabeth Oak Field I noticed it was a lot bigger than I thought. Passing across a small dried up river I heard a lot of squeaking to my left. I noticed a ferret chasing down a small rabbit. The rabbit was doing really well until three dogs ran in and then chaos erupted. One dog ran after the now squealing ferret while the other two harassed the rabbit. Things were not great for the rabbit and one of the dogs got hold of it. I suppose it was a sort of 'Battle' so it seemed an omen of sorts.

On the first day, after taking many head shots of children with painted faces and glitter (with parental consent of course), I made my way down to where there was to be a horse display, the riders were dressed as soldiers from wars from Wellington and Napoleon times. They were showing horse riding skills not widely seen in Napoleonic war time. I don't recall hoops and balloons that needed dispatching as enemies of the British Empire during those wars but it made for a good display.

I had one problem though, I was not the first to arrive at the fence so I was about two rows back, I had to make use of the flip screen on the Canon 70d, along with the 24-105mm f4 lens. Finally getting to stand next to the fence in front of the display I found the reach of the 24-105mm lens was not enough as I was by then quite far from the display. I had brought my older lens with me, my Canon 50-250mm. I had not used this for a long time since I had got my Sigma 70-200 f2.8. It did have the reach for some great shots.

Which came in handy as the next display from the Red Devils. I was expecting some satanic ritual but it turned out it was a parachute display team. The plane flew over a couple of times  as they were checking wind speed before the jump and I kept my lens trained on the open door of the plane and managed to take a shot just as the lead jumper let go! Each jumper made it safely to the ground, one carrying a Union Jack flag on his foot.

The highlight, once the day turned into evening was the firing of a World War One cannon. Until that evening, I had not been in the vicinity of a loaded cannon, let alone being in its presence when it get fired. I tried to time my shots to the firing of the cannon and missed completely the first time. I was rocked by other smaller cannons firing off to the left of me. These cannons seemed to have plastic caps on to make the sound louder. This cap would be shredded to bits. These bits would then be wafted by the wind into my face. So a little shell shocked, I wandere back to the face painting stall and took one last photo as the sun set. 


Whatsaface, a professional face painter and make-up artist, with 11 years experience. Worked for many organisations, including local school fêtes, charity days and company corporate events, as well as children’s birthday parties and weddings.

Visit her website www.whatsaface.co.uk