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.

Jan 172012
 

Mam Tor Peak District www.pauldaviddrabble.co.uk..15 January 2012 Image © Paul David Drabble (Paul David Drabble)

Mam Tor on the Western end of the Hope Valley in the Peak District is a 517 metres /1696 feet hill. Known as Mother Hill around  3000 years ago a group of Celtic People built a Bronze Age hill fort here and called it home.

Mam Tor is also known as the Shivering Mountain because of its instability.  A  land  slip that probably began in pre-historic times and is still active today has opened up the whole side of Mam Tor, revealing what’s inside. It’s a classic example of a  rotational landslip and during  heavy or prolonged rainfall water seeps between the layers of rock causing them to become slippery. This allows the different layers shale and sandstone of  to slide over one another resulting in further land slips. Experts believe this will only stop when face of the land slip reaches 30 degrees in probably another 1500 years.

Don’t expect to visit here and be able enjoy solitude especially at weekends not even on a cold January Winters day. It is such a popular spot that steps and a paved path have been added to protect Mam Tor from the thousands upon thousands of feet that tramp over it every day.

Photography Information

Nikon D700 Camera

Nikon 50mm f1.8 lens.

Shutter Speed 1/3200 sec

Aperture f4.5

ISO 640

Jan 092012
 

Selling something on eBay and need to photograph it? Here are a few very basic ebay photography tips to help improve your eBay photography and hopefully improve your chances of a sale.

 eBay Photography Tips 1 – Don’t post an incorrectly orientated photograph
A photograph is there to help sell your item. Rotate the photo once its on the computer so the item is correctly orientated. You may not care how the item you’re selling looks, potential buyers do.

 eBay Photography Tips 2 – Dont use a blurred photograph
How obvious is that? but I see it. eBay listings with blurred images. There can be a number of reasons for this Not enough light causing camera shake, too close to a small object in an attempt to fill the frame puts the object inside the minimum focus distance of the camera, thumb print on the lens, autofocus isnt focusing correctly. What ever the reason find out

eBay Photography Tips3 – Don’t use someone elses photograph
Even if you bought an item on eBay and are re selling it on eBay. Copyright in a photograph belongs the whoever shot it. Using their photo is an infringement of their copyright.

 eBay Photography Tips 4 – Find an Appropriate background.
Backgrounds are important. Items that don’t belong can look very out of place and distracting. You will not notice a cable or plug when you take the photograph but buyers will once its listed on eBay. Take the time to find somewhere to create temporary “mini studio”.  A plain table cloth or bed sheet will work as a background when photographing smaller items. If its a car or caravan you are selling drive tosomewhere there is room to work without getting in street lights, your garage door or next doors car.

hover mouse over slideshow images to read the captions

 eBay Photography Tips 5 – Fill The Frame
Potential buyers want to see what they are about to bid on, don’t take the photo from too far away so its surrounded by loads of space, but keep in mind if you are photographing something small it may go out of focus if you get too close. If that happens check to see if your camera has a “Macro” setting which allows it to focus on items close to the lens.

 eBay Photography Tips 6 – Take time to get the exposure correct
In a digital age where the image can be viewed immediately after being shot there is little or no excuse for badly exposed photographs on a listing. Take the picture check the camera if its too light or too dark re take the shot to correct for the problem.

 eBay Photography Tips 7 – Avoid Reflections
Mainly (but not exclusively) a problem when using flash, the cure is to find an angle to photograph the item from where the light source is not reflecting off it

 eBay Photography Tips 8 – Photograph Using natural light when possible
If you can find bright area with lots of diffused natural light then that’s probably where you want  your “mini studio”. Its easier to use natural light if there is enough of it simply because you can see the lighting your working with so you know the result you should be getting before pressing the shutter. With flash you only get to see the result after taking the picture

Dec 242011
 

I would like to take this opportunity to wish all my Family Friends, Clients and followers a Very Merry Christmas. I hope Santa brings you all something nice tomorrow and below is an image from last year of our local Church viewed from our local park.

MERRY CHRISTMAS!

 

Dec 202011
 

As we get to the end of  one more year I thought I might go through my archive of photographs and do a  2011 in pictures blog. A straight forward enough idea look back and choose some images but then came the questions…

How do I choose them?

From a whole year how many should I choose?

What about if I had 3 really nice photographs for one month but weaker ones shot in another?

Should I include personal photographs?

I decided I would choose one image taken during each month of the year, this would naturally limit the me to 12 photographs and force me to show some images I may not otherwise have selected. This collection of  photographs is not   a list of the 12 biggest news stories or celebrities or PR jobs I shot during the year. It’s not even necessarily the best 12 photographs I produced in 2011. It is a personal choice of pictures which are my some of my favourite photographs, some produced as commissioned  images and others as personal images, one from each month of  the year.

January 2011Hatfields Jaguar Dealer Principal Andrew Jeffery in the refurbished show room on Sharrow Vale Rd  PR image commissioned by PFPR. This was one of my very first photographs of the year I really like the way I was able to both the Jaguar and Hatfields Brands in the same photograph despite them being in separate places,its not something that can always be achieved when building a PR photograph using two brand names.

February 2011 – Chris Huhne Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change visits Casa hotel in Chesterfield to hear about the hotel  buildings energy efficient design and renewable energy. PR Image Commissioned by Bonner and Hindley This one is a very straight forward  un posed grabshot I think its the light I love on this large windows in the boardroom allowed bags on even natural light in.

March 2011 – A protester grabbed by police after crossing the “Ring of Steel” fence in Barkers Pool, outside Sheffield city Hall where the Liberal Democrats are holding their Party conference Conference. A grabshot on a 17-35mm wide with the full frame Nikon D 700. I caught movement out on the corner of my eye and turned to see the police grabbing this protester after he had climbed over the metal barriers.  Photograph shot on spec

April 2011 – Dancing on Ice Photocall Motorpoint Arena Hayley Tamaddon and Denise Welch joke in front of the cameras  After posing with their dancing partners in the show Haley and Denise wandered back across to the photographers and began a few outlandish poses as though they were a dance couple. I grabbed a several photographs but especially like this frame, it captures the point at which they posing stopped and dropped into fits of laughter Photograph shot on spec.

May 2011 – My partner Aileen as watches the other runners cross the finish line while looking for her two young granddaughters who were also running. She had just completed the “Race for life”  at Calendar Park in Falkirk. Personal Image

June 2011 – A wild Poppy growing on waste ground in Ecclesfield.  As a freelance I carry a camera everywhere this was photograph was taken during a Monday morning walk with my camera when business was quiet. Photographed for use as a Stock image.

July 2011 – The Ponderosa  “Spam” 1940’s war weekend held in Heckmondwike. Reenactors from the Northern World War Two Association portray German Panzergrenadiers from the Elite Heer (army) GrossDeutschland Division, defending a camouflaged mortar pit from attacking allied troops. Personal Photography Project

August 2011 –  Wallace chases a ball in Ecclesfield Park while out walking. I took this on a borrowed 300mm F2.8 Nikon hand-held. I was about to do sport for a newspaper for the first time in a number of years and thought I would get a bit of practice in.  Personal Image.

September 2011Walkers Fresh Hot Crisp Tour comes to Barkers Pool Sheffield as Masterchef winner Lisa Faulkner Shows  the three simple things that go into making a bag of crisps PR Image Commissioned by Freud Communications .

October 2011 – Complete with coffin, candles and gravestones a Vampire Fashion Show part of Sheffield’s Fashion Week. Photograph shot on Spec

November 2011 – A small wooden cross and poppy of the type that can be found on almost every War Memorial in the UK. This one was standing in among the remains of an old stone building on top of one the hills overlooking Langsett Reservoir on the Sunday after remembrance Sunday. Alone and out of the expected context it makes a poignant image. Photographed for use as a stock picture.

December 2011 – I spotted this during a nine mile walk around Grenoside woods on a very wet and dismal overcast Sunday afternoon. It was exactly the type of day that you don’t expect to get a usable photographs then I saw this large old fern it  looked like something from the set of Jurassic Park. Photographed for use as a stock picture.

So there it is my year in photographs,  no beaches in summer,  no fireworks in November and no Santas in December

Nov 042011
 

November kicked off as a bit of a celebrity Meadowhall month. Starting, appropriately, on the first of the month with a WH Smith book signing by Leigh Francis.  In character as TV JUICE host Keith Lemon he was on a promotional book tour for ‘Keith Lemon: The Rules”. A popular read looking at the queues. So popular in fact the signing started early and finished an hour and half later than scheduled, despite Smiths taking the book off sale to avoid fans being disappointed by not getting their copy signed. Leigh Francis is also known for his character Barry Gibson the music paparazzi and his portrayal of celebrities in Bo’ Selecta!

Two Days later, 3rd of November, that’s right not even bonfire night and the behemoth that is the UK retail sales industry is getting into Christmas mode. The Meadowhall Christmas Lights Switch on Concert, an event that strangely had no switch in sight, or Christmas lights either. The fans didn’t care they were there for the acts, besides the event was raising money for Cash for Kids and Meadowhall’s Charity of the Year, Helen’s Trust and with a 15,000 capacity and entry fee of £2.50 that was going to be a success.

Fans at Meadowhalls Christmas lights switch on concert in Sheffield on Thursday evening 3 November 2011. Image © Paul David Drabble (Paul David Drabble)

Opening act was  Tinchy Strider which seemed surprising  for artist with 3 top ten chart places, 2 of which reached the number 1 spot. As he left the audience were informed Tinchy was hopping on a helicopter which would fly him down to London where he had a second gig later that night.

Next up Dance group Rational  followed by  Bee, Holly, Lizzy and Rianna, the Girl group Vanquish then a quick chat and song from Sam Clark, Australian singer/song-writer/actor from Adelade, probably best known as Ringo Brown in Neighbours. The second Girl group of the night was Girl Next Door.

Listed as one to watch Encore recently supported N Dubz and Jessie J. Encore are Mark Asari, Cairo Benn and Pierre Jermaine. If your looking for more info on them its worth noting their web presence seems to be Want more Encore not just Encore.

Six D had some chart success back in the summer when their début single “Best Damn Night” entered the UK top 10. If you think you have seen them somewhere before check the X-Factor talk talk Ads where they appear as dancers.

Cover Drive all the way from Barbados felt the cold. ” We’re not used to this weather” singer Amanda told the audience, backed by T-Ray, Bar-Man and Jamar. They released their first single “Lick Ya Down”  in August, it entered the charts at  #9 and the début album is due for release soon.

Next very talented Ronan Parke the 13 year old Britain’s Got Talent runner up. Ronan made the headlines after Simon Cowell went to the police over allegations that his company SyCo had fixed the show so Ronan would win.

Headlining and officially switching on the Meadowhall Christmas lights, Matt Cardle. Winner of X-Factor 2010 he held the Christmas number 1 spot with “When Worlds Collide” and his new album “Letters” has just been released in time Christmas.

Want see more from Meadowhalls Christmas Lights Switch on Concert? Check out my Facebook Fan Page the link is on the left.

Oct 072011
 

Have absolutely nothing to wear this weekend but wouldn’t be caught dead wearing that? How about if you were one of the Undead? The vampires of Sheffield can now stalk the streets of South Yorkshire in style after last nights Vampire Fashion Show (Thursday 6th October).

A Vampire themed catwalk show was the launch event of Sheffield’s Fashion Week, which is apparently the largest UK  fashion week outside of London. Held on the 4th floor of the Rockingham Street, Q-Park  multi-storey Car park  the events scene was set by a drinks and Canapé reception complete with coffins, candles, gravestones blood red soft drinks, red wine served by hissing vampires and one young vampirette who had obviously discovered her wardrobe was completely empty except for some skimpy underwear and black gaffer tape.

Although the invitation only audience were all strictly human, the fashions had been chosen to equally suit both those living mere mortals and the  immortal monsters of Bram Stokers legendary novel Dracula. The Count himself was nowhere to be seen, this was a far more modern styled take on the vampire,  a sort of surreal cross between Blade and Buffy the Vampire Slayer but without the slayer or violence of  Tarantino’s Dusk till Dawn, despite the odd lovers spat between Vampires (from Maverik Models) on the catwalk.

Sep 212011
 

Last couple of weeks have been a strange time consisting of a variety of jobs and the holiday that almost wasn’t. It started quietly enough with images shot on spec of Peter Andre dropping into WH Smiths Meadowhall to sign copies of his two new children’s books “The Happy Birthday Party” and “A New Day at School”. That was followed by a shoot for Atteys Solicitors who had a good news story involving Cupcakes and “The Sweet Taste of Success” then finally a short job on Friday of a Lottery winner from Rotherham who had bought himself a very nice motorbike with some of his winnings.

Then after that with nothing more on the diary the plan was for a weeks caravan holiday at Cleethorpes close to the beach, quiet, relaxed, don’t care about weather, plenty of dog walking and traditional Fish n Chips. Well that was the plan until the phone rang, and rang, and…… well you get the picture (excuse the pun).

The first job was on Saturday shooting the Walkers Hot Crisps tour handing out free hot crisps to members of the public in Sheffield with the help of Celebrity Master Chef 2010 and Holby City/Spooks star Lisa Faulkner. The results included some very nice portraits of Lisa.

The Second Job was Tuesday for St Dunstan’s a charity founded in 1915 to

help blind ex-service men and women lead independent and fulfilling lives.”

Three visually impaired ex-service men had stopped in at Sheffield St Dunstan’s centre on Fullwood road during their epic 372 mile Centre2Centre March the guys are stopping off at all of charities Centres. The last centre will be St Dunstan’s new £12 million rehabilitation and training centre in Llandudno. I hope they make it in time, as part of their challenge is carry the ‘key’ with them to the new Llandudno facility and open the building when they get there. Having met Billy Charlie and Chris I have no doubt that they will especially after the showed me some of the technology they have with them to keep them en route, a driver a car networked smart phones & tablet, mobile internet and Google maps. This was a job well worth travelling back from Cleethorpes to do.

The third Job, its a little miss leading to refer to it as that, was a couple of shifts for the Rotherham Advertiser meaning we had to leave early so I could work Friday and Saturday but that’s just the nature of being a freelance professional News and PR (public relations) photographer

Despite having to cut the holiday short, at both ends, we still managed to enjoy ourselves. I even found time to take some holiday pictures what do you think?

Sep 072011
 

As a full-time professional Press and Public Relations photographer I tend not shoot many weddings, but sometimes the areas of News PR and Wedding photography do cross over like this wartime wedding. Andy Hacking and Kath Plummer who are both World War Two reenactors announced they would be getting married at Lytham during the Fylde Coast Wartime Weekend, and they would be doing it 1940 style. Uniforms, reproduction 1940 wedding dress, vintage armoured car to whisk away the bride and groom, right down to ration books at the reception and a little like the World War One Christmas of 1914 there was the slightly surreal sight of German and allied troops fraternising and forming a guard of honour for the happy couple.

Best man Dave straightens Groom Andy’s button hole before they move inside the church and greet some guest while awaiting the brides arrival.

Just like the 1940’s bride Kath arrives on foot, but that’s petrol rationing for you, then a brief nervous wait at the back of the church for the air raid warning to stop and the ceremony begins

After the marriage service and register signing the happy couple make their way back down the church aisle to the Dam Busters march, pose briefly for a picture at the church door then out for the official photographs.

Confetti, a sweep, a yank selling nylons, bridesmaids who know the drill, friends, family, a Guard of honour including German troops and the the 6th Airborne what more could a soldier and his bride want from a wedding?

How about a genuine 21st century press pack including local video news camera crew and a fist full press photographers!

Travelling in style

“Katie Katie give me your answer do………. “

“………For you look sweet upon the seat of Dingo made for two!”

Ration packs, ration books 1940 entertainment a world war two wartime-style wedding right through to the reception.

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