I swore I’d never do it. It was too touristy, too cheesy, and too crowded. I’m thinking of writing a book about my time in London, though, and I know that it would make a good chapter. So today…. I went and saw the Changing of the Guard at Buckingham Palace. This isn’t the first time it’s happened; as I mentioned before, I accidentally ended up in the middle of it once near the beginning of my trip. Today was totally on purpose.
I got to the Buckingham Palace area at about 10:30am, which is a full hour before the guard is supposed to change. The crowd in front of the Buckingham Palace gates was a full six people deep already. That was okay with me, though; I wasn’t planning to watch from there. I was going to set up shop in front of Wellington Barracks, which is where the guards come from on their way to the palace, and where the band warms up as well. There was plenty of room, so I had my choice of spots. The guards were already getting into formation by the time I found a good place for pictures. Basically, “getting ready” consisted of a lot of indistinct yelling, stomping, and occasional shuffling to get into formation. The commanders inspected the troops at one point, and it looked to me like everyone passed. 🙂
The band arrived on the scene to warm up after the rest of the guards did. They circled up and kicked off with “Summer Nights” and “Greased Lightning” from the musical, Grease, before moving on to “Can You Feel the Love Tonight.” I’m not kidding. It…definitely wasn’t what I would have expected from a military band. Not to worry; they played proper marching music as the guards actually left the barracks and proceeded to the palace. What happened after that? I wish I could tell you, but like I said…I wasn’t over there, and there was no way I was going to get close enough to see at that point. Overall, though, it was interesting to see the beginning of the ceremony. It did seem like a bit much to go through to protect the Queen….in a palace that no one can get into anyway….WHEN SHE’S NOT EVEN HOME. Even so, I’m planning to go back twice for photographic purposes: once to watch from the middle of the route, and once to watch from Buckingham Palace. If you’re ever in London and you really want to see the Changing of the Guard but only have a chance to do it once, wait outside Wellington Barracks. You’ll get just as many photo ops, and the crowds will be smaller. 🙂 Just remember to clean your camera lenses often; I’m TERRIBLE about doing that, which explains the weird haze that appears on some of my shots from today. Shooting into the sun didn’t help, either, but that was easier than I thought it would be to work around.
Speaking of photo ops, I went out last night to try my hand at some nighttime photography. The good news is that London is fantastic at night. The bad news? Although my Canon had great nighttime settings, it was really tough for me to get anything decent without my tripod. I had to use a fairly slow shutter speed, and when you add that with the fact that my hands are NOT steady (plus the fact that it was windy)…let’s just say there were a lot of indistinct blurs. I got a few that I like, though, and I’m not giving up. It’s just a matter of finding creative substitute tripods. 😛