One night in 2009

Something someone said recently made me think about 27th May 2009. It was a day that I learned something profound and devastating. In the evening I went out and took some photographs and started to get over it. It was an important day in driving my determination to improve as a photographer.

Manchester United were playing Barcelona in the UEFA Champions’ League Final against Rome, in Italy. I was in Manchester, so headed out to photograph the fans.

Ahead of the match, fans were in a jubilant mood

Cigarette-hungry supporters clustered by venues with screens

As the pubs filled, eager fans watched through windows

but the Italian side won and, as the 2nd half came to a close, sad fans emerged

I’m grateful I used Canon’s RAW format. My cameras weren’t the best in 2009 and this was most evident in low light. I under-exposed shots in order to keep the shutter speed up. Processing these pictures today, I’ve increased the exposure by up to 2 stops and corrected the colour. RAW enables this kind of post-production with less loss.

Numbers on the streets increased. It started raining and a surprising wave of jubilation spread through the fans’ ranks

Their numbers swelled as more spilled on to the narrow road at the top of Manchester’s “Printworks” venue

A sense of physical and emotional release took hold

The rain poured heavier

Their team had just lost a massive match. Months of tension was released

A couple of times the rain and jostling from the crowd threw off my focus

Fans stripped off their shirts

and the streets became shiny, reflecting glorious multi-coloured lights, as the crowd cried out

Using high ISO on a cheaper camera and then pushing the exposure in post-production adds noise to the pictures, but detail is still retained

This shot’s full of motion blur, but I don’t care because there’s one emotion that’s sharp

A primeval instinct had been awakened

Police arrived and created a porous barrier, allowing people to leave but not enter

The year before, Glasgow Rangers fans rioted in Manchester during the UEFA Cup Final. The memory of that night would’ve been fresh

but there was no such disorder on this night

and the triumphant losers headed home.

One Response to “One night in 2009”

  1. Stuart Grout says:

    A great blog entry demonstrating how good photojournalism can explain the event to people who weren’t there.

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