The first Sunday in November always brings the renowned London to Brighton Veteran Car Run. It is the world’s oldest motoring event which has run continuously. A widely held belief is that the event celebrates the abolition of the legal requirement for someone with a red flag to walk in front of a motorised vehicle. In fact, the run marks the day when the maximum permitted speed rose from 4 to 12 mph. The need for a man with the flag having been abolished some years earlier in 1878. Nevertheless, the start of the 1896 run did see the symbolic burning of a red flag.
November is not an ideal time of the year to drive over 50 miles in vintage cars. Many are open to the elements and they break down. A lot. Making repairs with cold hands, especially if it is raining, cannot be much fun. If only the parliamentarians of yore had had the good sense to pass their reforming Act during the summer. Only cars manufactured before 1905 are eligible to participate. It makes for an unusual spectacle, seeing the old timers taking to the road. It helps that the organisers encourage participants to wear period attire, although many don’t.
The route passes close to my home and I try to photograph the event whenever possible. It is worth mentioning the equipment I used, as I suspect it had a bearing on the results I obtained. The camera was my Canon 7D Mk 1, set to wide area continuous autofocus. It was actually the lens, though, which probably made the difference. Being a white Canon 70-200 f/4 , it seems to have attracted the attention of many of the participants. Maybe I looked professional and stood out from the other people around. In many of the shots, there is a strong engagement as the drivers and their pasengers are looking directly at the camera.
Photography was not always easy. The local authority has decreed that no lamppost, and there are quite a few of them, is complete without at least one sign. They are meant to be seen, of course, hence are not discrete. Coupled with that, someone had parked a white van in the bus lane opposite and I needed to avoid that as well. Eventually I settled on shooting the lens more or less at its maximum focal length and the aperture set to f/5.6. I found that if knelt on one knee, it was easier to control what appeared in the background. I still found myself having to remove quite a few of those wretched signs during post processing, though.
What follows is my record of the day. I was less interested in the cars and concentrated more on the participants. I wanted to depict them having fun on their grand day out.