Stuart Forster discusses photography of Kynren at Bishop Auckland.
The press preview of the 2019 edition of Kynren was held at Bishop Auckland in County Durham on 15 June. I was there and had an opportunity to photograph the outdoor spectacle billed as ‘an epic tale of England’.
Disclosure: Stuart was invited to attend Kynren as a member of the press.
Photography of Kynren at Bishop Auckland
The first of 11 public performances of Kynren in 2019 took place on 29 June. The shows were held each Saturday evening until 14 September with the exception of 3 August.
As many as 1,000 residents of Bishop Auckland and the surrounding area volunteer their time so that Kynren can be staged.
Many don costumes and play roles. Yet in addition to the performers, 21 other teams are needed to stage the event, including divers, stewards and animal handlers.
I was impressed by the positive attitude of the volunteers in the car park and on the gate, checking bags and tickets.
The tribune at Flatts Farm holds 8,000 spectators. 450 people were present during the press preview.
Low light photography
The show got underway shortly before dusk. From the perspective of photography, that posed the challenge of photographing in low light.
On the other hand, the lighting ensured that colourful costumes stood out.
It also enabled images to be projected onto water. A film was sprayed upwards from the lake that forms part of the vast set.
Normally photography is prohibited during performances of Kynren. That makes sense as it means onlookers can concentrate on the spectacle without being distracted by the glare of fellow spectators’ smartphones or people moving about to grab that ‘perfect’ shot.
One challenge that I didn’t expect to encounter during the press preview was other photographers moving about during the performance. At times they inadvertently got into my frame.
My position up in the tribune made it tricky to freeze the action of horses galloping in front of the grandstand. I’d have preferred to be down low for those shots, but my position allowed me to capture much of the action effectively.
A synopsis of Kynren
The story of Kynren tells how a boy named Arthur travels back in time to see key moments from English history unfold.
The means being on hand to view events such as the Roman Army marching into the land named Britannia, the arrival of the Vikings from Scandinavia and the Norman conquest.
A Viking village has been erected behind a palisade close to the tribune.
It depicts aspects of everyday life for Norse folk who settled in England.
Visitors have an opportunity to get up close and see performers in Viking costumes.
The village is a new addition to Kynren for 2019.
Characters such as King Henry VIII, Queen Elizabeth I and Queen Victoria make appearances.
Pyrotechnics ensured I had to stay alert to get the best shots possible.
So too did the spectacular emergence of a Viking longboat. I won’t give away any spoilers as to how that happened.
Kynren impressed me as a spectacle and concluded with a memorable fireworks display. If you’re planning a visit during 2019, you’ve got a treat ahead of you.
Find out more about the show and ticket availability on the Kynren website.
Bishop Auckland is approximately 10 miles southeast of Durham City. See the This is Durham website for information the town and other destinations in County Durham.
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