the caribbean parade is one of the highlight photo events of the year. ever since i got my upgraded 80D back in the end of june, i was eagerly awaiting this day, having a chance to really put the camera to the test. we were also gifted with perfect parade weather, temperature in the high 70's with a cool breeze.
by the time i woke up this morning, steve and paul were already gone. it dawned on me late last night that leon and his family weren't coming back on friday. but surely they'd be back today saturday, since that's when their flight was? and all their belongings were still upstairs, including whatever they ordered from amazon. but i had no idea when they'd come back. maybe they changed their plans, decided to stay in DC an extra day or two. regardless, i wrote them a nice good bye letter and taped it to the door, just in case they got home and i wasn't here.
i biked down to the community garden to water my plants, figuring that'd be good enough to earn a few days of neglect. i also watered renee's plot, as she told me she wouldn't be here this week. i don't know why she even bothered asking, because her garden is mostly weeds, a real eyesore (like her rat-infested backyard). afterwards i went to walgreens (formerly rite aid) to pick up my prescriptions, which were ready yesterday but i forgot to get them.
by the time i got back there was just 40 minutes left before my departure time. i showered, ate a honey cake for breakfast, got dressed and packed up my gear. jeans and a polo shirt, my 55-250mm lens along with the 18-200mm lens. i almost thought about leaving the 18-200mm at home, or taking the wide angle lens instead. i ended up bringing it because these caribbean parades can get crowded and i needed something for close-quarter work. i also applied some sunblock on my head and arms, and took a bottle of frozen water with me.
i was about to leave around 11am when i remembered that the boston caribbean parade never starts on time. though advertised at 12pm, it's always started at 1pm. so i held back until 11:30am, studying my route on google map in the meantime.
i traveled on the outskirts of harvard square to get onto memorial drive then across the BU bridge into mission hill then roxbury, taking the same route i took last sunday to get to the dominican parade. that turned out to be a good dress rehearsal as i biked down familiar roads. once i exited heath street, i traveled down columbus avenue, cutting through egleston square, towards the direction of franklin park. i went up elm hill avenue and parked in the same place i did last year, homestead street. i then walked up elm hill avenue to get onto warren street, following that down to MLK jr. boulevard, the start of the parade route.
even though i left the house late, it was still too early by the time i got to my spot, with more than 30 minutes to go, assuming the parade starts on time at 1pm, which often it doesn't. i spotted a few chinese people which was a surprise, even though the boston caribbean parade is a big deal, it doesn't get a lot publicity, so i'm shocked some chinese tourists were able to find it.
i started seeing politicians: mayor marty walsh, some state congress people, even michelle wu, who seems to be at all these events (i've already seen her a handful of times this year), like she's jockeying for position on a non-election year (some say she's going to challenge walsh for the major job). the mayor started marching by 1:15pm, followed by the other politicians. even ayanna pressley showed up in a red dress, shaking hands with supporters. i think she was just there for a quick photo opp, because i didn't see her marching as she held back and then disappeared.
from there the parade started slowly advancing. i learned an important lesson: the start of the parade route is not a good place to take photos, at least not for these carnival parades. the problem is everyone bunches up, so you have stretches of nothing, and then suddenly everyone shows up, and there are so many people, it's impossible to photograph, it's just a mess. next time, stand further back, give the parade time to spread out.
so i started shooting initially with the 55-250mm, but that lens is purely telephoto and doesn't have any wide or intermediate ranges. so when the crowds moved in, i switched to my 18-200mm. the 18-200mm performed well, i never really noticed the difference other than it's heavier. during periods of lull, i'd switch back to my 55-250mm, picking off interesting subjects from a distance. so of the photos i ended up taking (about 1100), 40% of that was with the 18-200mm, while the other 60% was with the 55-250mm.
even though i was there until 4pm, i didn't get that many photo opps. maybe it's because having been to a lot of these parades, i'm more selective with my shots, and waited around looking for the perfect photo opp instead of photographing everything. the parade seemed kind of off. was there less parade participants? certainly there was just an many spectators. a lot of familiar faces i've seen in past years i didn't see them this time around. even though i had an interesting time, i was disappointed that there wasn't more to see. fortunately in 2 more weeks there's the cambridge caribbean parade; i'll apply the lessons i learned here today.