It the end of the first week in October 2018 and the Giants by Royale Du Luke theatre group is visiting Liverpool again for their final visits. The Giants have been to Liverpool twice before and I did not go to see them so I was determined not to miss this final opportunity. Unfortunately, the only day available for me was the Friday and I did have a deliverable to get out the door in work. The Giant show started at 11am from outside St George's Hall so after a few hours in work I dashed through town up to Lime street.

Wow, there were a lot of people around and all the front row places were taken so I milled around and waited for the show to start. The British weather had also let us down as it was very grey and overcast with a few small rain showers mixed in. I had my Nikon D810 with 24-120mm f4 lens as my main camera with my Xpan and 645Nii in the backpack. That in theory was me travelling light! I wanted to try and get an image of the little boy as he started to walk past the hall with the 'Liverpool' banner in the back ground.

Little Boy Giant leaving St George's Hall

As the little boy and Xolo the dog started to walk through town towards the Cathedral, it soo became apparent that trying to get clean images was going to be very challenging. The press and TV etc were allowed access to the road in front of the puppets, but even this was being carefully controlled with a lot of stewards and ropes to control the crowds on both sides of the street. To follow the puppets along the street you had to be quick and nimble and often run ahead to find a clear gap in the crowds. A lot of people also had the same idea. Then at the last moment, ALL the spectators would then raise their phones in front of you just as you pressed the shutter so that nice clean viewpoint now just has the back of an iPhone. It was very frustrating.

The crowds and security for the Giants, making clean images a challenge

The stewards, press and crowds made this a challenging day

Despite these frustrations, I can honestly say that I had an amazing time watching and following the giants. It is a truly amazing show to turn these huge puppets to life and you seemed to get washed along with the crowds and this overall feeling of excitement and joy. There were a number of occasions when Xolo stopped to climb on bus stops, have his nails done and interact with the crowds which added to the interaction. I did crop quite a few of my digital images into panoramic format as it cut out some unnecessary distraction and focussed on the action.

 Xolo having his nails done outside a hair studio

Look at the lady watching from her window

Overall I did manage to captured the day with a few good images and thoroughly enjoyed myself but there were some basic photographic errors on the day and a few lessons learnt. I have summarised these below and hope to learn from them:

  • Camera bag was too heavy at 12.5kg, too much equipment of 3 different formats
  • Nikon D810 with 24-120mm lens was nearly 2kg ( 2 bags of sugar) and too big and heavy
  • Missed some focus as using single point, should have used a dynamic mode
  • Set iso to 400 thinking this would be enough, it wasn't in some cases and I dint check exposures. I should have set auto iso and a minimum shutter speed.
  • No tilt screen was a problem when I raised the camera to get above the iphones
  • Wearing jeans and trainers is not ideal especially if you are walking fast/running. Walking trousers and shoes/boots.
  • I took a bottle of water with me on my bag, good job as wouldn't have had time to stop
  • Xpan struggled as light was poor with f4 lens
  • JCH streetpan was very contrasty when processed, prefer HP5
  • Paramo Halcon Traveller jacket was brilliant, loads of pockets and comfortable but not too heavy. 

A couple of final images in panoramic format from the day. I am looking forward to see what will replace the Giants when Royale du Luke returns to Liverpool (fingers crossed).

Watching from the windows

Giant washing line in front of the Town Hall

More images from the day can be found in the Portfolio, my Alamy pages and also check out the Limited Edition Prints available.

Back to Blogs