Private Thornton was deployed to Afghanistan in October of 2011. As a member of the support Company for 1 Battalion The Yorkshire Regiment (1 YORKS), which is part of the The Queen’s Royal Hussars Battle Group, Matthew was based at the northern end of Lashkar Gah district in the Babaji area, at Checkpoint Koorashan. On the 9 November 2011 Private Thornton was taking part in a patrol to the north of Checkpoint Loy Mandeh, the aim was to develop a better understanding of the local area and people. During this Patrol his unit was attacked by an enemy using small arms fire and grenades, as Private Thornton was manoeuvring and returning fire an Improvised Explosive Device (IED) was detonated and the blast killed him. Poignantly Matthew Thornton’s tragic death came less than a week after his 28th birthday and only 2 days before Remembrance Day (11 November).
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.
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.
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.
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?
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?
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.
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.
Camera Nikon D700 with 12.1 mega-pixel full frame CMOS Sensor
Lens Nikon F1.8 “Standard” Lens
Built in Flash
File Format NEF
Shutter 1/60th of a Second
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.
Amy Winehouse shot fame in 2006 after the release of her album “Back to Black”. The album won 5 Grammy awards thanks to her massive talent which, when combined with her unique beehive hair and tattooed arms, made her one of the music industries most recognisable female artists. Sadly, as too many of the industries incredibly talented musicians do, she found herself on the road to self-destruction. Her 2011 comeback tour was cancelled after she appeared on stage in Belgrade Serbia apparently drunk and incoherent. If fact her performance was so bad she was booed.
Back in mid October 2004 when Amy Winehouse was still a Mercury Music nominated rising star with her first album “Frank” I was lucky enough to sit in and photograph this young up coming prodigious talent being interviewed by the local media and afterwards as she played an intimate performance for a couple of dozen people. That Journey took Amy Winehouse just 6 years and 9 months.
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.
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.
Most humans are tall compared to a dog, so get down and shoot from their eye level see the world as they do.
Have a hyperactive dog who just cant stay still? Use a fast shutter speed to freeze the movement when they are running and jumping.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Know your dog. Good photography can often come from to knowing your subject and being able to predict what’s going to happen.
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.
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
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
The two jobs are at the same time and on the same day.
The two jobs are the same day, aren’t at the same time but they do overlap
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.
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.