37th Cambridge Highland Games

20120721_CRC4684I am not a Highlander. The Scottish blood that runs in my veins is of the more sedate lowland variety. My wife, on the other hand, descends from the Sinclairs – the highest of the Highlanders – hailing from the most northern tip of the auld sod. It’s no surprise, then, that the Highland Games in our adopted city are a “must attend” event for the family.

The Cambridge Games have struggled in recent years with low attendance due mostly to uncooperative weather. This year, however, there was no evidence of the recent troubles. Media reports say that over 6000 people visited the site in the scorching heat. As this was my first games with a proper camera (and the skills to use it) I was excited to see what I could capture. One thing is always certain at a highland event – lots of interesting colours, patterns, and personalities!

I took a lot of photos that day – many of them duplicates and many more that just didn’t turn out for one reason or another. From my original number of 425 exposures, I ended up with 35 finished images. One of the 35, though, is pretty special. This is Keegan. He’s four years old and was at the Cambridge Games for his first competition!


I had seen Keegan earlier in the day competing and so when the massed bands streamed onto the field during the closing ceremonies, I kept an eye out for him. 20120721_CRC4440As it turned out, the spacing between the other drummers worked out perfectly as Keegan came into frame – and just as I was snapping a few shots, he looked right at me with the slightest of smirks on his face. Perfect. I knew immediately that I had captured the shot of the day. It was a good feeling.

Of course, I had no idea who Keegan was at the time. That took a little bit of detective work after the games were over. I’ve since been in touch with Keegan’s Mom and they are as excited about the photo as I am.

Highland games are not ALL about the pipes and drums. There are the heavy events (which I didn’t get as many shots of as I would have liked, see right) and the highland dancing (which I didn’t shoot at all) and, the family favourite, TUG-OF-WAR! Perhaps I had just not paid as much attention in past years, but I noticed something fascinating about the tug-of-war participants this year… their footwear! If you look closely, those are hockey skates! they have hard plastic soles in place of the blades. Only a Canadian could come up with that!


I’m already planning my shots and angles for next year’s games – there were so many that I know I could have gotten! In about a year’s time, keep an eye out here for my 38th Cambridge Highland Games post!

You can see the full set of 35 Highland Games photos here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/carmichaels/sets/72157630723182230/

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