As I’m assembling a photo book on the Derwent Valley Mills World Heritage Site, I couldn’t miss out on the biggest annual event at Darley Park: the open air concert. It was a warm, dry, clear evening so it was perfect for photos, not least for capturing the fireworks at the end. Before the climax, I had to capture the flavour and atmosphere of the event as I am keen to make up a montage of photos for the book. Pictured are my five favourite images from a quick glance at the 235 pictures I took.
I was looking to get an interesting shot of the stage set against the blue early evening sky and saw an opportunity for something slightly surreal as soon as I saw the inflatable dolphin. It was just a question of moving around until it was in the right position.
I managed to get backstage in order to get some shots of Sinfonia Viva performing so I could show the crowds in the backdrop. Fortunately, I managed to get not only the animated conductor James Holmes but also the vocalist Grant Doyle. The orchestra were outstanding.
As the evening wore on, the atmosphere was even more conducive for photos especially as the stage was beautifully bathed in coloured lights, no more so than when the youngsters from Big Adventures took to the stage to sing Skimbleshanks from Cats.
As soon as they finished, there was one more number – refreshingly an orchestral version of The Day We Caught The Train by Ocean Colour Scene (the concert had a railway theme) – which gave me just enough time to hoof it up the hill to set up the tripod for the fireworks. These were the really important shots as it’s the fireworks that have made the Darley Park concerts so popular, and there’s no question that the two best images I caught are going to be reproduced large in my book. Photographing fireworks involves a lot of pot luck. it’s so difficult to anticipate the big moments so you just have to set the camera at a fairly slow shutter speed to capture not only the bursts but also enough movement in those bursts. I got lucky – twice.
A word about the event itself. The last time I attended was back in the late 90s when I actually compered the event – as a presenter on Radio Derby. The crowds are still as huge but the whole concert is better organised and the sound quality was excellent.