May 162011
 

On May 14th and 15th the Northern World War 2 Association, or NWW2A, held their “Private Battle Weekend”. Established in 2005 with the aim of recreating, and reenacting the Second World War period as authentically as possible, association members spend most of their reenacting time  providing Allied and Axis living history displays and large scale battle reenactments at events across Northern of England. The Private Battle is a chance for the reenactors to don their 1940’s persona’s and spend one or two days war-gaming on a large expanse land, somewhere in Yorkshire, away from the gaze of the public. I spent one day with the Elite Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland of the NWW2A to see what life was like as a member of their Kriegsberichter Zug (war correspondent platoon).  I chose to shoot on my modern digital Nikon D700 DSLR camera rather than my old Kiev film rangefinder. I wanted the best quality pictures. I have chosen to reproduce the photographs in black and white in an attempt to put back some of the atmosphere lost by not using film.

Unteroffizier “Wolfgang Spengler” in command of the Eight  man squad plus one “Kreigsberichter” of the Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland somewhere in NorthYorkshire

Point man “Stefan Kollers”

Above: From a gulley on the tree line  Feldwebel “Otto Henning”  looks for any unexpected movement as two of the squad move forward across open ground to the wreck of an old tank. Below: Having safely made it to cover Gefreiter “Hans Altmann” looks back as his comrade checks for enemy movement to the front, before calling up the rest of the men.

The remainder of the squad wait anxiously for the signal to make their way across the open ground and into cover.

 

Having made it into woodland without being ambushed the men of Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland take a breather. Above Right: Using an Esbit stove and German mess kit Gefreiter “Johann Rechenmacher” and other members of the patrol share a coffee while others (Above Left and Below) rest or chat quietly so as not to give their position away.

Below: The Großdeutschland squad anxiously wait for the return of point man “Stephan Kollers” who has been sent ahead to investigate gunfire.

Unteroffizier “Wolfgang Spengler” orders  his men into position as they advance on an “enemy position” that is already involved in a fire-fight with other elements of  Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland, 21st Panzer Division and 1st Fallschirmjäger.

One  Panzergrenadier attempts to work his way towards the strongpoint and find an effective firing position. Below: Feldwebel Otto Henning has already spotted one target.

While attempting to get around and flank the allied strong point, with Grenadiers “Stefan Kollers” and “Hans Muller”, our battle was cut short by fusillade of well placed rounds from element’s of Fox Commando Royal Navy and US 101 Airborne  (below).

 

Above; The long walk back to the camp at the end of day one. Left to right:  Fallschirmjäger from the NWW2A, Grenadier “Hans Muller”,  Grenadier “Stefan Kollers” and Unteroffizier “Wolfgang Spengler”

NWW2A consists of a number of different groups or“units” ranging from the US and British Airborne troops, French Resistance, British and Soviet infantry, German 21st Panzer Division, Infantry, Luftwaffe and Fallschirmjäger and the Panzergrenadier Division Großdeutschland. Moving away from  front-lines units there’s the German Field Police, Deutches Rotes Kreuz , Ensa Moonlight Seranaders and 40’s Civilians & Home Front Auxiliaries.

May 092011
 

Public Relations Photography

Something that seems to have become an endangered  species in Public Relations Photography is booking two jobs in a day. According to my diary it was going to be a fairly straightforward day with one booking. The brief  shoot “behind the scenes” images of the 888.com sponsored Premier League Darts at Sheffield Motorpoint Arena for Sky Preview Magazine, a publication aimed at licensees who use Sky sporting broadcasts to help bring in customers.

Public Relations Phone Call

The day before the Darts my phone rings and a second clients needs a Public Relations job shooting the same day as Skys. At this point Murphy’s law will generally kick in dictating that either

  1. The two jobs are at the same time and on the same day.
  2. The two jobs are the same day, aren’t at the same time  but they do overlap
  3. The two jobs are the same day, don’t overlap but the distance between locations makes photographing them both impossible.

It looked like number three would be the problem. The second Public Relations job was in Cleethorpes on the east coast. A client needed  the interior layout of Halletts Lifestyle convenience store and some of their staff photographing. The store had just won a national award as Blakemore Wholesale/ Lifestyle Retailer of the Year 2010/11. The job was urgent, a plus for me as it meant the client was happy with a morning shoot and booking number two had just become booking number one.  I had, for once, given Murphy the slip and had two jobs on the diary.

By 09:45 I had driven the 75 miles to Cleethorpes and was already working. By 15:05 I had made it back to the office edited, processed, captioned and distributed the digital images to the client. With just enough time to produce an invoice and grab something to eat I was off to the Premier League Darts.

One of the countless things I love about being a full time professional Press & Public Relations Photographer is the variety. Going from shooting  the aisles of traditional a seaside corner shop, to the showmanship and razzmatazz of  televised Premier League Darts is nothing if not varied.

The Double Page Spread in the Sky Preview Magazine

 

If you want to see more examples of my Public Relations Photography visit my home page

 

Apr 162011
 

Some of you may have noticed that I have an interest in most all things military, I also have an interest in the 1940’s, more specifically the second world war. This has led me to invest in a “new” camera, well new to me. Its actually a 38 year old Kiev range finder, a postwar Russian copy of the famed German Contax range finders which were introduced around 1933 and were once the main competitor for Leica.

I intended to buy one of these Russian Contax or Leica clones as a display piece but attempts to find a good looking non working display camera for under a fiver soon evolved into a little bit of a quest to find a reasonable working camera and preferably a Keiv. I wasn’t actually worried about the age of the camera but I did want it to work on 1940’s technology. Then thanks to eBay a Kiev 4, a Contax IIIa copy, arrived along with a very odd desire to put a roll of film through it.

I think I actually imagined I was going to stick a roll of film in this 1940s vintage piece of technology and instantly be able to use it just like my Nikon equipment. However to give you an idea of the differences between this camera and any modern digital SLR or compact I thought about writing a short list of what you don’t get with a Kiev but forget the list. If your camera has the word “auto, automatic, program, mode or electronic before one of its features take it as read the Kiev doesn’t have it. It does have a built in light meter but its not very reliable and you have to read it, work out the exposure settings then manually enter those settings on the camera. Its design requires the camera to be held in a specific way, known as the Contax hold, so the fingers of your right hand don’t block the range finder window and make focusing impossible.

To swap from my Nikon D700 to the all mechanical and manual Keiv for a couple of days was to say the least a culture shock. I am used to knowing my Nikons so well that I pick them up and work them, almost without thought, leaving me free to concentrate on creating images. With the Keiv I was forced into a much slower pre planned, less instant, pace of photography. Not just less instant in the sense you don’t get to see the result straight away but you suddenly realise you have to move the camera away from your eye to set the shutter speed and aperture then again to wind the film on. You are forced to think much more about the image you are about to shoot or want to shoot and makes the grab shot so much more valuable. It has also left me wondering how famed war photographer and Magnum founder member Robert Capa managed the images he did from a pair of Contax II cameras. Despite the totally different way of working forced on me when using the Kiev I think I may just be looking for a Zorki or Fed Leica copy now to sit alongside my Keiv or maybe Ill look for a Kiev clone of Capa’s Contax II.

Apr 092011
 

Its been an interesting start to April, a sudden influx of jobs bucking the trend of the past 12 months or more. Its still a long way from business as usual but it would be nice if things carried on the way they have over the last ten days. The month started with call to cover the Spots vs Stripes challenge for Cadburys in Meadowhall then it was a shoot for a company who has sold their  500,000 curry which we shot at Chef Hallam. Job number three came in via email requesting coverage of the Torvill & Dean  Dancing on Ice 2011 tour photo call at Sheffield Motorpoint Arena.

From there it was a quick drive back to the office to get the photos edited captioned and out to the client and off to celebrity shoot number two. Lookers the new Alfa Romeo dealership on Saville Street Sheffield had celebrity chef  Mr Aldo Zilli on hand to help them celebrate their opening with an evening of “fine Italian food and wine”. Had he not made it as a chef I think he would have made pretty good Comedian. Having got the images required from the Aldo Zilli shoot its back in the car and back to the office to get a few images out from the evening so they would be waiting for the client when they get in on Friday morning then off to bed just before midnight.

Friday was an office day finishing the edit, post production, captioning and distribution of the Aldo Zilli Photographs while fielding calls, emails and taking delivery of a new camera and getting invoices out. Saturday was back to Meadowhall for celebrity shoot three and oddly enough another Italian celebrity chef this time it was Gino D’Acampo who was doing a cooking up a storm and by the look of it he certainly managed to get one ladies heart racing when he asked her to check if his pasta was al dente.

Some where in amongst all this I actually found time to buy myself and take delivery of a new toy, a Kiev 4 range-finder film camera. Cosmetically its in very nice condition with original leather case and 5cm F2 Jupiter lens.  Everything seems to be in working order I just need to put a film through it. If it all works as it should I have a feeling that it could end up as a blog for another day.

Mar 202011
 

Elbow is not only the bit in the middle of a human arm that allows it to bend. Its not just, as Philip Marlowe said in The Singing Detective “the most sensuous word in the English language; not for its definition, but for how it feels to say it”.

Elbow is the British alternative rock band who have received vast critical acclaim and the respect of major artists like Radiohead, Coldplay, Blur, R.E.M. and U2. The five piece took to the stage at Sheffield Motorpoint Arena on the 5th night of their tour (19 March 2011) the night of “a full moon when its the closest it has been to the earth for 20 years”
Elbow front man, Guy Garvey, informed the packed Motorpoint Arena.

Consisting of Guy Garvey Lead vocalist and lyricist, Mark Potter on guitar, Craig Potter playing keyboards and organ, Pete Turner playing bass guitar and keyboards and Drummer Richard Jupp Elbow have come a long way since they first played together at The Corner Pin pub Stubbins, an industrial village in Lancashire 20 years ago. Asleep in the Back Elbow’s début album was released on V2 in 2001, and won them a Mercury Music Prize nomination and a BRIT Award nomination, performed at Glastonbury in 2002, went on tour in Cuba in 2004, by 2008 they won the the Mercury music prize for the album “Seldom Seen Kid” Supported U2 in 2009.

Now in 2010 Elbow rolled into town on their “Build A Rocket Boys” tour Sheffield Motorpoint Arena.  Starting on the Tuesday 15th March at Glasgow’s SECC then moved on to, Newcastle
and Nottingham landing in Sheffield on the full moon


Elbow “Build A Rocket Boys” tour dates

Saturday 19-Sheffield Motorpoint
Sunday 20 – Liverpool, Echo Arena
Tuesday 22 – Birmingham, National Indoor Arena
Wednesday 23 – Cardiff, International
Friday 25 – Manchester, MEN
Sunday 27 – Brighton, Centre NEW DATE
Monday 28 – London, O2
Tuesday 29 – London, O2 EXTRA DATE

Elbow’s support was the Irish band The Villagers. Formed and fronted by Conor O’Brien they look to be on course to reach same successes as Elbow. Last year, 2010, saw the release of their first album “Becoming a Jackal”  and their nominations for The Q Awards Breakthrough Artist, The Mercury Music Awards. Becoming a Jackal was also nominated in 2011 for the Choice Music Prize and Irish Album of the year Award of 2010

 

Full Moon

Last nights Full moon referred to by Elbows Guy Garvey

Mar 182011
 

How To Create A Good PR Photo people actually want to publish?

Recently I wrote a guest post “What Makes A Good PR Photo” for Leeds based Quest PR’s blog. Bloggers will tell you that posts work best at around 300 to 500 words and it was while trying to work within these constraints I realised what I do, what all good PR photographers do, is far too complex to impart as a “How To” in 500 words or less. I was barely scratching the surface of “What Makes A Good PR Photo” let alone how to produce one and that led to this post.

How does a professional PR Photographer Create A Good PR Photo people actually want to publish? He or she considers all the things below and more, though not necessarily in list order.

Is the image sharp?

Where should I focus for best effect?

Shall I use a wide aperture or narrow aperture?

Fast or slow shutter speed?

Natural light or Full flash, Fill-in flash?

Will anything fool the camera meter?

Do I choose Wide Angle Standard or Telephoto lens?

Which camera will be best for the job?

Is it best Mounted on a tripod, monopod or hand-held?

Use camera mounted flash or portable studio flash?

What elements best tell the story?

Which do I include, what gets left out?

Is the background relevant?

Can it be made relevant or is it just distracting?

What’s the best way to set this up for maximum visual impact?

Do I put movement into to an image?

If I do should movement be frozen or allowed to streak ?

Shall I isolate the subject with a blurred background?

Use front to back picture sharpness?

How many people do I use and why?

What’s the message my client is trying to get across?

How do I get the branding in?

Does it look natural or forced or just ruin the picture entirely?

What style do I need to shoot in?

Where will the images appear?

Have done Upright and landscape shape?

Beyond considering all of the above the professional PR photographer needs people skills in bucketfuls. Some people are lucky they just enjoy being photographed and/or are simply photogenic. Many are not, good results are required even when the subject hates being in front of a camera. Photographers need to work with people from all spheres of society all ages all outlooks all political persuasions and a good photographer can deal with just about anyone. Sometimes the image will require getting people to do things they wouldn’t normally dream of doing. Other occasions it will require the photographer do something they wouldn’t normally dream of doing.

In short How To Create A Good PR Photo…..

Understand your equipment, use it to best technical effect, understand the brief, interpret it creatively, work well with people and get the best from them in what can sometimes be quite difficult situations.

Mar 122011
 

Images from day two of the demo outside the Liberal Democrat Party Conference in Sheffield. The slide show includes photographs of Patrick Streeter, a Liberal Democrat Party Conference delegate, who decided to gatecrash the beginning of the demo at Devonshire Green. He tried to address the protesters but was escorted away from any potential confrontation by South Yorkshire Police Liaison Officers, at the request of the demo organisers. He was however followed by a sizeable press contingent who were already covering the invited speakers and start of the Demo.

The Liberal Democrat Party Conference came to a close on Sunday within the so called “Ring of Steel. Despite fears of potential trouble the weekend passed of relatively peacefully with only around 5000 demonstrators on the Saturday while on Friday an smaller demo of only around 800 people materialised. One of the final tweets on sunday from South Yorkshire Police read

“syptweet SouthYorkshirePolice
#libdemconf closed. No signs of protest this morning. 1 arrest made throughout. Thank you to all those who kept it peaceful #libdempolicing”

Sheffield District Commander, Chief Superintendent Simon Torr said there had been around 5,000, largely peaceful, protesters in the city centre On Saturday with only one arrest for public disorder.

Mar 072011
 

A Lincolnshire based Lottery Syndicate has won a  whopping £4.1 Million Jackpot from the February 5th 2011 Lottery draw. Syndicate member Andrew Mowat with his wife Christine and syndicate members John & Chris Bell and Joe Burton went public at a press conference in Sleaford on Monday (7th March).
John and Chris play seven of the syndicates ten lines giving them a massive £2.9 Million pound Share while Andrew and Joe collected £419,776 each. A fifth Syndicate member chose to stay anonymous.

The ticket with the Jackpot winning Lottery numbers 33 34 37 40 41 47 was bought at Browns Newsagents in Coningsby and was one of two winning tickets from the Saturday draw that shared a roll-over Lotto Jackpot of £8,395,528

Mar 052011
 

Three days on from Matt Cardle and it’s back to Meadowhall Shopping Centre, celebrity spotting again. This time it’s Chris Moyles sidecick from Radio 1 “Comedy Dave” Vitty.  Now a Dancing On Ice Star “Comedy Dave” was signing autographs and meeting fans in the lower arcade close to Marks & Spencer as part of the  promotion for  Torvill & Dean’s Dancing on Ice 2011 Tour which has its opening night on the 9th of April 2011 at Sheffield Motorpoint Arena. As part of the promotion fans were also given the opportunity to win Torvill & Dean skating costumes as worn by the superstar skating couple, a signed skating boot and free tickets.

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