The moment I heard about the Stand Up Paddling Competition in Vienna I decided – that’s somewhere I want to take VPW! I’m not a good paddler by any means, but I did try it this past summer in Baia Domizia, Italy. I managed to stay up on my board (most of the time), but I couldn’t imagine being able to do that on the Donaukanal! The canal’s got quite a quick current, you’re surrounded by roads full of cars (so, I’d imagine, it’s quite distracting), and the quality/colour of the water… well, let’s just say, you REALLY don’t want to fall in! I was intrigued to see how the participants would fare.
The sports event was scheduled well in advance, and so was the photo walk. The only problem was, as ever this year: the weather. Days up to the walk the forecast was looking grim: 14 degrees; rain; grey skies; strong wind; more rain; possible thunderstorms. As a result about half the people who had claimed tickets had cancelled, and didn’t show up. Nonetheless, eight brave photo walkers appeared at our meeting place at Schottenring promptly and – lo and behold! – the second we set foot for the Salztorbrücke bridge the sun came out. And it didn’t leave us until we went home at 5:00pm. We were, once again, a very international group: Taiwan, the US, the UK, Russia, Austria, and Rumania were well represented! Joining us this time were two professional photographers, which is always exciting; for the majority of the group photography is just a hobby, so it’s always very cool to be able to learn from the pros.
We began our walk by crossing Salztorbrücke over to the Obere Donaustrasse side, and taking a group shot; it’s how we start all our walks. After that our mission was simple: pace ourselves so that we’re still on the canal, preferably at a good vantage point, in time for the stand up paddlers to swim past us. Their race was due to start at 1:00pm at the Nussdorfer Schleuse, and to finish at Strandbar Herrmann by 2:00pm; we were positioned right in the middle of their route (by 1:00pm), ready to meet them half-way.
The great thing about this route is that you’re not just walking down a street – you’re walking down Vienna’s most famous graffiti and street art mile! Needless to say we weren’t anywhere near bored when the first paddlers began to appear around 1:45pm – everyone was busy snapping the art, the reflections in the river, the people walking along the river banks, and each other.
The first paddlers to swim by were three lone men; after that there was a break with no other paddlers in sight. A little while later about 20 other people swam by, and we all thought that was it – bad weather had been promised, maybe they had a lot of cancellations too? It was at least fifteen (if not more) minutes later that a huge crowd of paddlers, the core group, arrived. There was lots of cheering for them from both sides of the river, as well as from passing boats and canal-side restaurants. I normally don’t take too many pictures at these photo walks, normally just over a hundred; yesterday I took over 350 – and I’m sure I wasn’t the only one!
After the last paddlers passed us we continued to walk, chat, take photos of the graffiti and street art, and talk about photography (particularly with one of the pro photographers on our tour, Colin Vickers). Colin, who works mainly in his studio with models, was giving us lots of interesting tips and insights into the industry.
By the time we reached Strandbar Herrmann, which is where the stand up paddlers were resting and celebrating, we discovered that most of us were actually quite hungry, so we decided to go to Vapiano for pizza, risotto and salads. This was probably the longest photo walk to date – I got into the ubahn to go home at 5:00pm – and definitely one of the sunnier, chattier ones we’ve had so far.
I really want to thank everyone who came, again – it was an event I was really looking forward to sharing with fellow photographers, and I’m pleased it was such a success!
The contest for the best photo taken that day starts on Saturday, May 21st 2016 – please vote! I will include the link to the album as soon as I create it next week. Have a great weekend, and see you at the next photo walk on Saturday June 18th, 2016! You may bring partners, friends, and kids. The only ‘must’ – an interest in photography. And, as always, absolutely all cameras (smartphone, compact camera, disposable, polaroid, DSLR, etc) are welcome.