Wednesday, 27 August 2008

Its Carnival Time!

Every bank holiday weekend in August since 1966, the streets in Notting Hill in West London play host to Europe's largest street party, The Notting Hill Carnival, (the second largest party in the world after Rio's).

With over 1 million people over the 2 days, many visitors, locals and tourists alike brave the sardine-packed streets to experience the mega sound systems, the colourful costumes, floats, Samba dancers, drummers, Chinese acrobats and of course the food the drink ala Caribbean-style.

Rum punch, brandy shots and jerk chicken with rice and peas, fried plantain, and lots and lots of beer thrown in or up, whichever suits your fancy.

I arrived early and walked the back streets and prep areas before the actual float parade started at noon. I usually prefer this routine than to come later and get stuck at the many bottle-necked entry points the police have set up to control the flow of people.

This way I get to photograph the performers getting ready and just chilling out in anticipation of their street performance for the rest of the day.

I intended to focus on faces and got a few that I like, just carrying my favourite portrait lens, the 85mm f1.8. Setting the aperture to f2.0 and getting up close would create a nice background blur to isolate the face from the often distracting background of street furniture and buildings. I also brought along my small Ricoh GRD2 to capture the wider scenes of the days, which was invaluable as i can often get real close to the scene without attracting attention.

Mind you, almost everyone had cameras, so the performers weren't camera shy. That made it easier to photograph complete strangers close up.


Me... Only Better said...

Wow, didn't know Notting Hill had a street party. I thought it was so POSH...heh heh...

Hey, you must have had a nice time taking pics eh...those tassle thingys make ME go ouch! Want to pull them out a little...haha

Nice portraits! You're the expert meh!

Such a colorful parade!

Beer thrown in or up...funny!

svllee said...

Hi Tehsin, NottingHill is a large area, originated by the West Indian and Caribbean communities during the 50s and 60s. Hence the birth of the Carnival parades. The southern stretch of Notting Hill (Gate) is the posh end with the gentrification of the neighbourhood and multi-million pound houses.

It all depends on your postcode. W11 is good. W10 isn't. It can only be the next street away, but prices differ.

The area around Portobello Roadis REAL cool, with lot sof diverse and trendy stores, cafes, food and bars. THere is a market selling junk and retro stuff, the real arty and bohemian kind hang out here. (No, not me).

Also, since the movie, with Hugh Grant and Julia Roberts, crazy tourists go take photos of the blue door shown in the movie and the bookstore which Hugh Grant worked in, which all exists in real life, except the blue door is now white I think, the real owner got fed up with people ringing his door bell hoping and expecting to see Hughie himself!

There are Portuguese cafes selling lattes and Portuguese tarts, the real sweet custardy kind, and Morroccan restaurants, Spanish tapas and Caribbean bars. There's also a Malaysian Makan and Uli too.

Come to London and I will show you around.

Jo said...

Wow, Notting Hill! The movie really put it on the map. You know the place so well. I like the portraits! Hope to visit portabello someday. (btw, my KB trip was too short to explore pasir belanda as recommended by you, but I'm marking it down for the next trip there to explore more on my own). Thanks for sharing!

p.s. wah bertapa rencaknya blog ini, do you like avril lavigne? she's in KL this weekend.

Me... Only Better said...

Sounds so good lah Steven!

Don't know when I can come again to Air Asia got cheaper fare kan?

Still must save up lah..kurang2 tiga orang, can never leave them kids...

I got Mecca, Morrocco, Tunisia, Syria, Iran, Australia in my sights...but lots of the UK I haven't seen I got kawan there must include London lah!

Kak Teh said...

Steven, I cant remember the last time I went. I miss the colour and splendour of the carnival - but not the noise. My daughter went but i was so worried because of the violence at the end of the day.
Really good shots Steven!

Meet up after Ramadan?

svllee said...

Hi Kak Teh, how've you been? Sure can meet up maybe for a Raya bash in town? !

The carnival was great, best to go early before the rowdy gangs set in..!

***cinDee*** said...

wow wow wow...
i wana go there next year! :)

svllee said...

Hi Cindee, yes, pls come, come , come!

Zawi said...

Its nice to be a photographer when we get the privilege to photograph people from up close. The scantily clad dancer seems to be showing off her great body.
Thanks for sharing.

majidah hashim said...

i like the pic with the red brick wall! :)

svllee said...

Thanks for visiting! Yes, I like that too.!