Aug 092016
 


Scarborough Grand Hotel

A Grade II listed building dominating the the town’s South Bay. When completed in 1867 Scarborough Grand Hotel was one of the largest hotels in the world, as well as one of the first giant purpose-built hotels in Europe. The hotel is in the shape of a ‘V’ in honour of Queen Victoria and was designed around the theme of time:
4 towers for the seasons,
12 floors for the months of the year,
52 chimneys to symbolise the weeks,
Originally there were 365 bedrooms – one for each day of the year.

As Scarborough was a famous ‘Spa Town’ in its heyday the Grand hotels baths included an extra pair of taps so guests could wash in seawater as well as fresh water. During the first world war the hotel was badly damaged by the German Navy when they bombarded the town in 1914.

Three blue plaques outside mark where the novelist Anne Brontë died in 1849, the contribution of the RAF trainees stationed at the hotel during the Second World War, and the original opening of the building.
11 July 2016

Nov 082015
 



The people of Barnsley were out in force again this year along side Veterans organisations, cadets, military units and families take part in the Remembrance Sunday service in Barnsley South Yorkshire.

 

Sep 102015
 

Part of the London poppy display from the Tower of London massive art installatio,n marking 100 years since the start of the First World War. The Arch segment, also Know as “The Wave” has been installed on The Yorkshire Sculpture Parks Cascade Bridge. The installation was opened to the public for the first time on September 2015 and will remain in place until January 2016.


Jul 272015
 

I used the Fuji X-Pro1 60mm f2.4 at couple of 1940’s events over the last couple of weekends, Kelham Island Sheffield and East Park Hull. Probably the most challenging of things to shoot were the Spitfire/Hurricane Flypast at the Hull Veterans weekend. I intended to use my Nikon D700 with 80-200mm but was caught out after being told the flypast would be Sunday.  It actually happened very late on Saturday. I only had time to flick to AFC and shoot  fortunately the camera was set as described in my last post resulting in the aircraft images included below. The exposures were f11 1/350 or better all at ISO 400.


Kelham Island & Hull Veterans 1940’s – Images by Paul Drabble

Jul 152015
 

Fuji X-Pro1 and Fuji XF 60mm f2.4 Macro

Today I added the Fuji XF 60mm f2.4 macro lens to the Fuji X-Pro1 XF 18mm f2 & XF 27mm f2.8 in my kit bag. My understanding is the XF 60mm f2.4 is a tad on the slow side when it comes to focusing, especially if compared to the rather more expensive XF 56mm f1.2 but is there away to gain an edge if using the XF 60mm for anything other than Macro work?
I would say yes and the trick is understand the problem and plan ahead. Think what you want to achieve with the camera lens combination. One thing I want to try with the lens is some candid portraits and grab shots without getting too close to a subject. The problem that needs to be overcome with the Fuji is a combination of slow focusing lens and the fact the the Contrast Detection AF (CDAF) employed by the X-Pro1 cant predict where the subject is going to be. I should probably also point out that unlike a DSLRs which use Phase Detection AF (PDAF) you don’t press the shutter halfway down to start the continuous AF. The correct way to use AFC on the X-Pro1 is to aim the camera at the subject with the cross hairs on the bit you want sharp and squeeze the shutter release in a single movement until the camera fires. I figured a small enough aperture with a reasonable DOF would help the focusing but as with all cameras that results in a drop in shutter speed and the possibility of losing the sharpness to camera shake or subject movement. My first instinct was to wind the ISO up but that has two drawbacks first is a drop in image quality second is a danger of over exposure in bright light. Fortunately the X-Pro1 has the option to program an Auto ISO. You get to tell the camera the minimum & maximum ISO you want to use and the minimum shutter speed it should be trying to achieve. What it doesn’t do is stop the camera working if the shutter speed drops too low it just tries to get up there if it can.
After a little fiddling about I settled on a minimum ISO of 800 a maximum of 6400 and a minimum shutter speed of 1/250. With the aperture set to f5.6 and AF set to continuous I roped in some help from my partner and our dog. As you can see from the images I had her throw a dog toy towards me so he would run towards camera chasing it. Each of the four images below is from a different throw of the toy. There were five throws in all and the results are pretty consistent for a slow focusing macro lens. The first throw I failed miserably and got only grass throws 2, 3, 4, 5 resulted in the images below. They have been cropped but still I think they are pretty impressive. You can find the camera settings for each shot in the captions. I have included the Thistle, shot in Macro, and the dog portrait to give a feel for what can expected if you forget to change the setting back to your ‘usual’ ones for situations that are more sedate.


I have to admit It was a glorious sunny day and the results may not be so good in poor lighting conditions but I feel I may just have an edge that maximises my chance of the subject being in focus while minimising the chance of camera shake with a set of camera settings that alow the X-Pro1 and Fuji XF 60mm f2.4 Macro lens to be used quickly and without too much though of anything other than composition.

May 292015
 

A Chemical spill in an Asda Superstore Car Park at Chaucer Road, Parson Cross, Sheffield resulted in customers being evacuated, road closures and some customers being sent home in Taxis.
The incident was attended by Police, Firefighters, Decontamination Support and Ambulance crews on Friday Afternoon


Aug 292013
 

Make Modern Photographs Vintage- With the increase in popularity of vintage events, 1940’s weekends and re-enacting seems to have led to a trend for ageing digital photographs and trying to make them look like period images. To help photographers who want their photographs to look like film from the 40’s here are a few tips to make modern photographs vintage

DLI August bank Holiday Weekend 25/26 August 2013 Image © Paul David Drabble www.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk (Paul David Drabble)DLI August bank Holiday Weekend 25/26 August 2013 Image © Paul David Drabble www.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk (Paul David Drabble)

The first problem is image quality. Most modern digital cameras handled correctly produce images of significantly higher quality than than their equivalent from the 1940’s. My method of knocking down the image quality is to take my original image, size it down by 50% or more then interpolate it back up to its original size. This can still leave the image too sharp if it is I use a blur filter to soften the image further.

Next desaturate the image but desaturation alone tends to give a harsh and crisp black and white, which leans towards having a blueish tinge. Using colour balance tools to add yellow (or remove blue depending upon how you look at it) and add red will allow you to get a warmer tone that you can make look anywhere from a natural looking black and white through to a sepia tone.

DLI August bank Holiday Weekend 25/26 August 2013 Image © Paul David Drabble www.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk (Paul David Drabble) DLI August bank Holiday Weekend 25/26 August 2013 Image © Paul David Drabble www.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk (Paul David Drabble)

Now add the film grain effect. Create a new layer which will need to be in overlay mode or similar with 100% opacity of middle or 50% grey. On this new layer you carry out two steps.

First add noise, how much will depend up how grainy you want your final image to look, again I start around 50% however make sure the noise is monochrome, there would be no colour noise in a 1940’s B&W photograph.

DLI August bank Holiday Weekend 25/26 August 2013 Image © Paul David Drabble www.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk (Paul David Drabble)

Second step is to blur the noise so it looks less like sharp dots and more resembles real film grain Gaussian blur is my preferred choice usually around 2 or three pixels.

DLI August bank Holiday Weekend 25/26 August 2013 Image © Paul David Drabble www.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk (Paul David Drabble)

At this point it’s worth comparing your manipulated image with genuine pictures from the period to make sure you have a reasonable match for colour tone and softness before merging the layers and moving onto cropping.

I prefer to crop either the 3:2 proportion of 35mm format or the square format of 6×6 you could also use 10×8 but a give away that your image may not be “period” would be to crop it at A4 as this probably would not have been a popular shape of the time unless you are going on to mock-up a period magazine cover. Once cropped its time to add a white border I add a 10% border relative to the cropped photograph This can be done by using something like the “Canvas Size” tool in Photoshop or you could just create a new plain white image document in your editor then drag your manipulated photograph into the middle. Once the border is sorted for that final touch of authenticity you can use a softening tool like adobes blur tool to soften the really hard edge between the beginning of the image and the white border and really make modern Photographs Vintage.


Mar 142013
 

One of the things I love about my job is the variety. I get access to people, places and experiences I wouldn’t ordinarily see, one such case is Penny Hill Wind Farm located on farm land between junctions 31 and 32 of the M1 motorway close to the village of Ulley. Where i got to watch and photograph wind farm turbines being delivered and erected.  Love them, or hate them, it seems wind farms are now an firm part of the UK’s renewable energy policy. Personally I think in the right light and in the right place these giant “windmills” can be very photogenic and while shooting for one of the local papers I was asked to visit and photograph Penny Hill.

Once completed it will consist of six individual wind turbines with a life span of 25 years. At up to 130 Meters from ground to the tip of the blade these massive turbines arrive on site broken down as four tower pieces, a necell, a hub and three blades which, I am told, in optimum weather conditions can be erected into its base in a single day. Its difficult to comprehend just how large these towers are unless you can get right up to them.


One of the four sections that make up wind farm turbines towers arrives by lorry at Penny Hill

Ulley Wind Farm Workers prepare the two massive cranes to lift the first of the four sections that make up the tower into place...13 March 2013.Image © Paul David Drabble (Paul David Drabble)

Despite less than perfect conditions workers prepare two massive cranes to lift the first of  four sections that make up the tower and lower it on to its base.


Making the lorry that brought it onto the site look like a child’s toy the first of the four sections from the turbines tower is lifted swung over the base. Note the workmen in orange ensuring correct positioning of the section before it is finally lowered on to its base


At £95,000 pounds each, three wind farm turbines blades wait to be fitted to the hub before the assembled pieces can be hoisted up and fitted to the nacelle. I was was unable to resist touching them knowing  when I drive past Penny Hill I will be able to look and say. “do you see the center of those blades……”


Penny Hill Wind Farm between junctions 31 and 32 of the M1 motorway close to the village of Ulley. Love them these giant “Windmills” can be photogenic

Ulley Wind Farm One completed Wind Turbine beside a second which is awaiting the its blades and hub to be assembled and hoisted into place. Note the comparative size of the yellow excavator at the foot of the un-finished turbine and the car in the bottom right hand corner for scale..13 March 2013.Image © Paul David Drabble (Paul David Drabble)

One completed Wind Turbine beside a second which is awaiting the its blades and hub to be assembled and hoisted into place. Note the comparative size of the yellow excavator at the foot of the unfinished turbine and the car in the bottom right hand corner for scale.

May 162012
 

Operation Chastise took place on the 16th & 17th of May 1943, better known to the wider public as the Dam Busters Raid it was an attack by Dam Busters 617 Squadron on the Dams in the Ruhr valley. It had the objective of disrupting German industry and water supplies. At around 21:30 69 years ago today Avro Lancasters of 617 Squadron took off carrying the now famous bouncing bombs and headed for Germany.

What some of you may not know is that the “The Dam Busters” perfected the new low level bombing technique required to drop Barns Wallis’ invention with training runs over the Derwent Dam. Not only was the Dam used to train for the actual raid but it also appears in the 1954 B&W classic war film which stars Richard Todd as Guy Gibson and Michael Redgrave as Barnes Wallis.

These days the reservoirs and valley that once echoed with the sound of  Lancasters 1,620 hp Rolls-Royce Merlin 224 engines is now peaceful. A magnet for locals and tourists with nothing more dangerous than the local ducks and geese flying low over its waters, but at the entrance to the west tower on the dam wall is a small memorial to the men of 617 Squadron while in the West Tower is small Museum. Known locally as the Dam Busters Museum it opens Sundays and Bank Holiday

Casualties and losses of Operation Chastise

8 aircraft shot down and 53 aircrew killed. 3 aircrew were taken prisoner. Two dams breached and one dam was lightly damaged killing approximately 1,600 people including over 1,000 (mainly soviet) prisoners and forced labourers.

Feb 212012
 

Sheffield flying fortress – On Sunday 19February 2012 I worked a shift for one of the local newspapers on the diary was a wreath laying at a memorial for the crew of a B17 flying fortress which crashed in Sheffield shortly before 5pm, 22nd of February 1944 killing all 10 crew:

First Lieutenant John Glennon Krieghauser, pilot.
Second Lieutenant Lyle J Curtis, co-pilot
Second Lieutenant John W Humphrey, navigator
Second Lieutenant Melchor Hernandez, bombardier
Staff Sergeant Robert E Mayfield, radio operator
Staff Sergeant Harry W Estabrooks, engineer / top turret gunner
Sergeant Charles H Tuttle, ball-turret gunner
Sergeant Maurice O Robbins, tail gunner
Sergeant Vito R Ambrosio, right waist gunner
Muster Sergeant George U Williams, left waist gunner

The youngest was 21 the eldest 24. Intrigued by the story of the Sheffield Flying Fortress I decided to find out more.

February 20 to 25 1944 was to become known as “Big Week”. Officially designated Operation Argument the  US 8th Air Force were tasked with massive daylight air-raids on the Third Reich’s aircraft industry while RAF Bomber Command supported the daylight the raids by operating against the same targets at night. The intent was to destroy Germany’s aircraft factories, lure Luftwaffe into a decisive confrontation and defeat them. This would give the Allies air superiority in preparation for Operation Overlord.

Against this background, around mid-day, Tuesday 22nd February 1944, the USAAF  B17 Flying Fortress Mi Amigo with its 10 crewmen reached the coast of Denmark along with the rest of the 305 Bombardment Group from the US 8 Air Force. Cloud cover was thick, there was little chance the bombers would locate their target and German 88mm anti-aircraft guns were peppering the sky with black clouds of shrapnel filled flak, but the aim of this mission wasn’t just to bomb targets, it was to draw out the Luftwaffe’s fighters so they pressed on.

Attacked by Focke-Wulf Fw-190’s the squadron leader decided enough was enough, the 305 Bombardment Group  jettisoned their bombs and headed for their home base, RAF Station Chelveston (USAAF  Station 105) in Northamptonshire. At some point in the mission whether from flak, fighters or probably both Mi Amigo sustained damage. The reports from other aircraft in the formation indicate Mi Amigo was in trouble. The Flying Fortress was struggling to maintain altitude, more than one of her engines was misfiring, her “skin was in tatters” and she was beginning to fall behind the rest. A “nursemaid” was assigned to try and help Mi Amigo home but  thick cloud that probably saved the stricken bomber from the fighters now became an enemy. The Flying Fortress assigned to escort Mi Amigo lost visual contact with with her around 500 miles from the English coast. Despite attempts to regain contact the next sighting of Mi Amigo was shortly before 17:00 on the 22nd of February, she was well off course, around 100 miles from Chelveston, over Endcliffe Park 2 miles south-west of Sheffield City Centre.

Eyewitness accounts of Mi Amigos last moments vary “ it circled” “it rolled”, “it clipped the trees” “the engines stuttered”.  Some believe that  pilot First Lieutenant John Glennon Krieghauser, spotted the 75 hectare Endcliffe park as a place to put down but seeing children playing football he chose to crash the massive Flying Fortress on the wooded hillside short of the open area where children were playing.

Jeff Hawkins a 14 year old at the time didn’t see the Sheffield flying fortress crash but was one of the first on scene. He describes what he saw in an interview with the Sheffield Star. (There’s a slightly different account from Jeff  Hawkins here)

“We heard a huge roar, echoing across the valley, that lasted only three or four seconds and ended abruptly,”

“This huge silver bomber was lying among the broken trees near to the bottom of the bank, across the river, with its nose pointing down towards the river.”

“There appeared to be little damage to the aircraft which was in one piece except for the tail and rear end of the fuselage which appeared to have parted from the main fuselage and was left further up the bank.”

“The wings, engines, fuselage and cockpit were all relatively intact. The only fire that was visible was a small flame and a little smoke from a wing.”

Initially the eyewitness and onlookers were able to get close to the wreck but children were ushered away, as at least one unidentified corpse had been thrown clear. Again the accounts begin to differ some describe hearing crews cries for help, others that say they sent the would be rescuers away. One young Sheffielder said he tried to pull an airman clear, but the man’s legs were trapped.

Interestingly on my way out of the park, after photographing the wreath laying, I spoke with an old gentleman and his family. He how told me how he and his friend saw the Flying Fortress 

“it came over from out towards Bradway”.

“I set off home on my bike but my friend set off for the crash site”. “He tried to save one of the crewmen I’m sure he was given some kind of award or something for it.”

Once the fire took hold and unspent ammunition from its guns started to “cook off”  the Sheffield locals were forced back and Mi Amigo was destined to become a burnt out wreck.

What ever really happened aboard Mi Amigo will remain a mystery, no radio contact, unable to give a situation report to their comrades and no survivors tell their story, exactly how and why a B17 Flying Fortress ended up a burnt out wreck in a Sheffield City park can only ever by conjecture and guess work.

In Memory of those 10 young men every the people of Sheffield hold a wreath laying ceremony on the closest Sunday to the 22nd February in Endcliffe Park on the site of the Sheffield flying fortress crash and a Memorial service at St Augustine’s church Brocco Bank.