Friday, 20 November 2009

Lumiere - Durham Light Show 2009

Following my attendance at last years light show in the centre of Durham City, I was looking forward to another spectacular in the shape of 'Lumiere'. It was at the same point in 2008 that 'Enlightenment' had taken place so it was time to see whether the 2009 offerings would eclipse that one.

(Copied and pasted from the 'Lumiere' website)
LUMIERE is a four-day festival that will brighten the historic city of Durham, bringing a sprinkle of winter magic to the North East. More than 50 artists will create a breathtaking series of installations, illuminations and performances using light. Lumiere will turn the city into a winter wonderland, transforming its stunning buildings, streets and riverbanks, with a nocturnal winter festival that will amaze residents and visitors alike. Prepare to be dazzled…
As in 2008, the event wasn't advertised very well and I only found out about it through a work colleague. Nevertheless, it was almost here and the batteries were fully charged as I had every intention of attending each of the four nights. Well, that didn't go to plan, as the strong winds and rain on the very first night kept me indoors. Never mind, there's always tomorrow.

Friday came around quick enough and I headed for Durham City straight from a days work on the busy production line at Nissan. I arrived at Durham Cathedral around 3.50pm and the area, including Palace Green, was very quiet. A few of the event staff were making final preparations in the build-up to the second night of the light show, with large projection equipment getting a final inspection before play time. I waited for the deep blue hue in the sky before taking my first shots of the night, in the grounds of Durham Cathedral. This particular light show, CROWN OF LIGHT, was quite spectacular, especially the images that were projected onto the Cathedral itself. They were almost surreal, but eerie at the same time. As the images were projected, the Cathedral bells chimed, with a few seconds between each chime. Yes, it had the desired effect. Quite spooky!

After spending most of my first night in the vacinity of the cathedral I decided to cover different parts of the 'Lumiere' trail on my second night, Saturday 14th November. This time I was down on the banks of the River Wear and what a lovely view it was. From a vantage point on the riverside, opposite Durham Cathedral, I was greeted by an array of colours that were being projected across the water by strong laser beams. At this point the lights which were illuminating the cathedral itself had been switched off, making photography a big ask when struggling to focus on the focal point itself. The light across the water was very bright, yet across the top of the frame, where I wanted it most, it was almost non-existant. Auto focus wasn't playing so it was manual all the way to get what I wanted. I got there eventually!

After bagging a few more shots I headed back along the riverside towards the nearby Prebends Bridge. It was here that I set up stall, on some steps at the waters edge. This location is where you get a great view of the Cathedral and it's often the position many photographers take up to grab those picture postcard images. I spent a good 20 minutes here, pulling in some nice shots as the pinky-purple colours were at their most prominent in the sky.
Time was pushing on so I quickly made my way across Prebends Bridge and up the incline towards the Cathedral and Palace Green. A quick detour took me through the Cathedral grounds, passing NINE MEN DRAWING along the way. Next stop was the Cloisters, one of my favourite parts of Durham Cathedral. It was here that the 'Lumiere' trail presented visitors with DUNE, an eerie interactive work that whispers and lights up as you walk through it. My last port of call tonight was WINTER GARDEN, a collection of tropical flowers which bloom in winter from beneath Elvet Bridge. Well, not flowers as such, but long flourescent tubes in a variety of colours - quite eye-catching too. Mind you, I nearly didn't make it. After leaving the Cloisters and making my way through Durham Cathedral I was met by the sight of thousands of people at the front, watching the light show from Palace Green. The queue to gain access to the Cathedral was unreal. Some folk obviously don't mind waiting, and waiting, and waiting! The wait was all down to CHORUS, huge pendulums that mesmerise the viewer with light and sound. Well, that was second night on the 'Lumiere' trail had reached its end. Time to head home and put the owld feet up, whilst guzzling a lager or two.

The following night, Sunday 15th November, was the last night of 'Lumiere'. Although I hadn't visited all of the artworks, there was only one or two of the main players that I hadn't recorded and it was time to put that right. My weekend parking ticket got me started once again on the banks of the River Wear, this time at Framwellgate Bridge where I photographed STARRY NIGHTS and FLUX after a brief visit to the Market Place. It was here where a living portrait of the city was projected onto its buildings. This diplay was known as A PLACE FOR FOR THE PEOPLE.
Moving on once again...the view along the waters edge near Framwellgate Bridge was one of the best of the whole trail, taking in Durham Castle, Durham Cathedral and the bustling Framwellgate Bridge in the foreground. A huge inflatable star was perched high on the castle parapet, which finished off my shots with that little something extra. Mind you, I set my kit up next to the 'InShanghai' chinese buffet and I was beginning to wish I hadn't. Oh dear, the smell was making me very hungry. A quick peep in the window didn't help. Seeing the huge selection of food with steam rising from it only added to my hunger. I was beginning to get sidetracked folks! Aye, me belly was telling me to pack me gear up and get me'sel in there but I held off, against all the odds. I fired off a dozen or so frames as the light show started on Framwellgate Bridge. Glancing over to my right I noticed a rather portly chap tucking into a large plate of barbeque spare ribs in the restaurant. I remember thinking to myself 'The lucky beggar', as I chewed on my Wrigley's Extra that had as much taste as a bloody ice cube! I felt like walking over to the window where he ate to press my face against it...he he he...but thought against it in the end. My thoughts of envy, as he tucked into another fat rib, quickly turned to frustration as I thought to myself... 'Ere pal, I hope you choke on the bloody thing' !!!! (Only jokin' folks...ahem...).
Well, that was the end of 'Lumiere' for me. Back to the car and off home. It was nice to get more event coverage under my belt in the form of low-light photography. The conditions are always a challenge but the results can quite often be very spectacular!
Until the next time,