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.

Aug 142011
 

I know its another dog photo but I think  its a particularly good one. That’s because an upside of being a professional photographer is every now and again a day comes along where you have access to equipment that is well beyond the reach of any but the most avid and dedicated or well funded amateur photographer. In this case that piece of kit was a Nikon Prime 300mm f2.8 Autofocus.  At today’s prices you will see no change from £4000 for one of these. Yes that does say £4k, four thousand Great British Pounds for a brand new  f2.8 VR version.  That upside of professional photography also has a down side. The laws of photography as a business say if the item doesn’t pay for itself you can’t buy it.  You may get to borrow it or hire it but you dont own it. So having a 300mm on loan I thought I would use the day take a photo or two for myself.

The photo below is Wallace at full speed chasing down a ball. Its shot on my D700 body coupled the afore mentioned 300mm.

Technical Info for Photo of the Day

Aperture; f3.5

Shutter; 1/4000

ISO; 640

Continuous Auto Focus

Hand Held

Please feel free to comment below…..


 

 

Aug 122011
 

Ever wondered what you can photograph with a Digital SLR and 50mm standard lens in the Dark?

Ever wondered how much use the built in flash is on a Digital SLR?

Yes?

Take a look at this little fellow. We found him in the middle of the patio at 21:40 on summer night in South Yorkshire. Now he isn’t the type of creature you meet around here on a regular basis so I thought he was worth a photograph if only to document what he is. Caught on a wide open patio suddenly lit by a bright outside light with our dog and my partner staring at him from on high had me worried that the the little blighter would have legged it by the time I got back. No time for messing with flash guns and lens swaps I grabbed my digital SLR camera with 50mm f1.8 Nikon lens already fitted and got back outside at the double. He was still there so I grabbed a quick record shot from above looking directly down then decided to use the “get on the subjects level approach.

A small reptile found on the Patio and photographed on a DSLR with 50mm Standard lens and built in flash August 2011 Image © Paul David Drabble

Laying down I used Autofocus to focus on the head and edged forward until the lens reached the closest point of focus. The D700 was already set to 640 ISO and Aperture Priority so I popped up the built in flash checked the viewfinder info,1/60 at F4, and fired off a single frame. I expected the little guy scarper but he didn’t. Now worried the the flash and/or stress of the situation may cause him some permanent damage I decided two frames were enough and we left we left him alone in the dark to go about his business.

Shot original in Nikon Electronic Format(NEF)The first Image was interpolated and croped from this original framing August 2011 Images © Paul David Drabble

Photographers Technical Stuff

Camera Nikon D700 with 12.1 mega-pixel full frame CMOS Sensor

Lens Nikon F1.8 “Standard” Lens

Built in Flash

File Format NEF

ISO 640

Shutter 1/60th of a Second

Apperture F4.0

Aperture Priority

Single Autofocus

The resulting image was still a very small reptile in the centre of a rather large frame so I decided a little cropping and post production interpolation was need. The NEF file was opened on the PC and at this stage I made adjustments to highlights/shadows added a little sharpening and interpolated the image from The D700 best quality of 12.1 Mega-Pixel (4256 X 2832 pixels) to a 25.1 Mega-pixel ( 6144 X 4088 pixels).

Once open the image was cropped, without constrained proportions, resulting in an photograph of approximately 3 X 2 inches at 300 ppi. Wanting a larger end result I interpolated that up in size again. Using Bicubic Smoother setting I made the longest edge 10 inches. That left the final tightly cropped image as a 10 x 6.5 inches 300ppi photograph or 3000 X 1959 pixels.

I may have just over done the size increase but the image was never going to be a “National Geographic” pin sharp, full page, quality picture anyway. Considering the situation and equipment, a 50mm standard lens lit by the pop up camera flash in the dark I don t think is too bad.

If anyone can Identify just what this little guy is I would love to know.

Can any one tell me exactly what he is? please feel free to comment below August 2011 Images © Paul David Drabble

Please comment below

 

 

Jul 182011
 

They say Britain is a nation of dog lovers, they also say never work with children or animals. Have you ever tried photographing your pet pooch only to be disappointed by the results. Here (in no particular order) are a handful of photography tips to help you achieve better results when you’re photographing mans best friend.

  1. First rule of all portrait photography is focus on the eyes. Most dogs have long snouts, so if you focus on the nose the eyes can be out of focus.
  2. Most humans are tall compared to a dog, so get down and shoot from their eye level see the world as they do.
  3. Have a hyperactive dog who just cant stay still? Use a fast shutter speed to freeze the movement when they are running and jumping.
  4. For the older or more sedate natured dog, try a wider aperture setting. This will help reduce distractions by throwing the background out of focus. Don’t forget “most dogs have long snouts”  if the aperture setting is too wide  your best friend could end up with a burred nose.
  5. Some dogs are natural posers, you can get good shots just by getting them to sit while holding their attention with a treat or toy. For most distraction is the key give them something to do or play with  that you know they love then you work around them.
  6. Don’t always work alone and do a little planning. Get another member of the family to hold your hound while you move some distance away. On a preprepared signal get your helper to let your pet pooch go and you grab some great action shots as the dog comes charging towards you. If your auto focus is slow or you dont have follow focus try pre focusing the camera on a fixed spot you the dog will run through and fire the shutter as they cross the focus point.
  7. Sticking with the theme of helpers why photograph your dog in isolation? Get someone you love and who the dog is relaxed with to interact and capture that on camera.
  8. Make it fun! Photography may be fun for you but most dogs are not the type who will happily perform on command for the camera. Make things fun for your pet and it will show up in your photographs through the dogs body language.
  9. Watch,  not the one on your wrist! Watch with your eyes. Your dog is genetically 80% wolf, so while walking with your dog and camera take time to watch and learn its instinctive behaviour and try to capture a more subtle side of  your pets character in your photography.
  10. Know your dog. Good photography can often come from to knowing your subject and being able to predict what’s going to happen.
  11. Sometimes all you need to make a photograph really work for you is a caption!

Right at the start I mentioned they say “never work with children or animals” well here is another tip – many of those tips work with kids too.

Have your own top tips for dog photography?

Feel free to add them below.

Want to give your dog an outdoor portrait session give me call

Jul 122011
 

Weekend of the Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 of July found the Ponderosa  Centre in Heckmondwike was the scene of skirmishes and an pitched battles as once again they held “SPAM” the Ponderosa Wartime Weekend. The aim of SPAM is to transport visitors back to to the 1940’s, give them a taste of what life was like for the civilians and and soldiers of all nationalities who fought their way across Eastern and Western Europe.

Bigger and better than ever before gunfire could be heard though out the two days as  Allied and Axis reenactors who were  living in and around trenches, foxholes, dugouts, bunkers and a TV set style derelict village sent out patrols to reconnoitre and probe their enemies positions.

The weekend included a Spitfire flypast on Saturday while on both days military vehicles including three US tanks, a Hellcat,  Marder Tank-killer, British Daimler Dingos, US M3 Halftrack,  SdKfz 251 Ausf. C Halftrack, Wyllis Jeeps and Kubelwagen all owned by private collectors and members of the Northern World War 2 Association and Military Vehicles Trust were just some that could be seen on static display and in a drive by parade.

Many of the same vehicles also took part in the grand finale each day. A western front battle with TV quality pyrotechnics which pitted Germany’s Panzer Grenadier Division Großdeutschland, 21st Panzer Division and Infanterie Regiment 208 against the US 101st and British 6th Airborne, with the East Yorkshire Regiment. The end of scenario has Axis units prepare and launch a counter attack against advancing Allied forces, but the combined  British/US Armour and  infantry push them back with American tanks destroying the Germans fuel dump before finally over running the thier positions as the axis resistance collapses.

Below: The last stand of Großdeutschland. British 6th Airborne division accompanied by members of the French Resistance overrun and destroy one of Germany’s Elite units at the Ponderosa Heckmondwike.

Should this leave you wondering what the Ponderosa Wartime Weekend looked like from  reenactors point of view here are a couple of shots

A reenactors view, of the Battlefield, at the Spam Wartime Weekend Heckmondwike 10th July 2011. Images © Paul David Drabble (Paul David Drabble)

A reenactors view, from the living history, of the Spam Wartime Weekend Heckmondwike 9th July 2011. Images © Paul David Drabble (Paul David Drabble)

Jul 012011
 

A Camelot press conference  revealed Barnsleys newest millionaire as 42 year old as Shaun Vincent of Royston who stepped forward to claim over £1.1 Million. Shaun has played the UK National Lottery since it started found he had the winning ticket Via Facebook.  A local social media news site “We Are Barnsley” announced on thier Facebook page that there was a £1.1 Million ticket bought in the Barnsley area for the Lotto draw on the 11th June 2011 that had not yet been claimed. Shaun went back and checked some old tickets to find out that he had been a Millionaire for 17 days without knowing.  He said of his life changing £1.158,038 win….

“I sat looking at the numbers and my ticket for about 20 minutes, I couldn’t believe it had happened to me and that I was the  missing winner. I told my mum and she didn’t believe me. She told me to stop Mucking about

above: Lotto Millionaire Shaun Vincent found he was a winner via Facebook

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.

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.