ickledot's last post was mainly an advertisement for his appearance at Leeds Central Library to speak about his rugby photography in Yorkshire over the last few seasons. The library has a display, Truly Madly Rugby, celebrating the Rugby World Cup currently taking place across the country. The exhibition includes some of ickledot's pictures and serves as a reminder that the game has a rich foundation of less able but equally enthusiastic players who turn out each weekend, in addition to the superstars of the professional game. Far be it from ickledot to assess how well the evening went but he certainly enjoyed it.
Following that came a late night drive down to London in readiness for Thursday's encounter between current world champions New Zealand and Namibia at the Olympic Stadium. Seeing as it's quite a journey down there, ickledot took the opportunity to have a short break before the game itself. Highlights of this included a visit to the National Portrait Gallery to see a photographic exhibition about the iconic actress Audrey Hepburn. It was superb. Highly recommended. There was also a rally. Workers at the National Gallery have been on strike for 100 days, protesting at the gallery's plans to privatise some roles. Among many speakers was Mark Serwotka, General Secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS).
Despite the excitement at seeing New Zealand and a live Haka, the game itself was a tad disappointing. The All Blacks established an early lead and never looked like relinquishing it. Namibia were able to score a try in the second half but by that time the game was long over as a competition. No great photographs from ickledot either as his seat was high up in the stadium, a long distance from the pitch.
Saturday brought another World Cup match, this time closer to home, in Leeds, between Canada and Italy. Regarded as a weaker link in the annual Six Nations Championship, Italy were in the unfamiliar position as favourites. However, Canada were having none of that, scoring tries and taking the lead at the beginning of both halves. Italy rallied though, eventually emerging as winners, but not by much. It was a most competitive game and this time ickledot was much nearer the pitch.
Some quite acceptable pictures ensued but the elevated position wasn't ideal. This was also a debut for a new lens: the Tamron 16-300mm. Bought as a travel lens, its small size meant that rejection at the gate was less likely ('professional' cameras are not allowed). Several reviews had spoken of focus being a tad soft at full zoom and this proved to be the case. Asking it to be a sports lens was really demanding too much and only shots taken of players close by were really sharp. I wouldn't view this as a negative for the lens necessarily. No doubt under less demanding conditions it will be very handy, combining a wide angle and a reasonably powerful zoom.
Another job for the hospice charity Sue Ryder in the evening; this time the Starlite Hike. Several hundred walkers set off on a walk around the local area, many in illuminated fancy dress and face paint. It was already dark so flash was essential.
So, quite a hectic few days. Enjoy the rest of your week!