[singlepic id=1623 w=320 h=240 float=left]Up until last month I had somehow managed to live in Durban my entire life without ever going to its biggest social event, namely the Durban July horse race. I’d hear people talking about the July and what a spectacle it is, but nothing can really prepare you for this no-holds-barred onslaught of the senses. It’s loud, garish & crowded. And I have to say that now that I have been at one, I understand why Durbanites are so bloody tight with their money – they have none left after they spend it all at the Durban July.

From what I could gather, people spend massive amounts of money on the clothes they wear to the event. Once they’re there, they spend even more on booze, food and God only knows what they spend on the horse races themselves. I was asked to take event photos for one of the private venues that borders the race track so it was an all day affair for me. I got there early, around 8am, and already the place was crawling with punters, catering staff and early bird July revellers, all dressed to the 9’s and ready to party. It was a long day and I had been tasked with taking photos not only of the venue, but also social stuff, including happy snaps of the guests and of course, the horse racing itself. Ordinarily I wouldn’t do something like this all day, but hey, it was the Durban July and I hadn’t ever been to one before.

My principle worry about doing the event was that of security for my equipment. I didn’t want to take one of my photo backpacks because while they can hold just about everything, they are painful to get equipment in and out of. So I ended up buying a new bag just for this event, namely the Lowepro Nova 200AW. I’m a big fan of the Lowepro bags and I think I must have had about a dozen different ones over the course of my career. The Nova 200AW is a shoulder type bag that holds a surprising amount of gear for a relatively small bag. I managed to get into it both my D700’s, a 24-70mm 2.8, 70-200mm 2.8, SB-900, SB-800, 12-24mm Sigma, 2 teleconverters and I still had space for some lunch and snacks. The beauty of this bag is that even with all that gear in it I didn’t feel that my shoulder was under any strain during the day and I could easily get gear out of the bag without setting it down on the floor (something you definitely don’t want to do with the massive numbers of people who attend this event. Now that I have that bag I am giving serious thought to using it for my upcoming Nikongear.com safari to Sabi Sabi. The only item I can’t get in there is the big 120-300mm 2.8 Sigma zoom, which actually has it’s own bag, so I am thinking of taking a chance and maybe trying to board the plane with two pieces of hand luggage.

Anyway, the July was a blast and I reckon for the younger generation it’s a great place to see and be seen. The fashions are incredible. Here’s some shots I got of the big fashion show that plays a huge part in the days proceedings.

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