October Battlefield Tour

On 14th - 17th October I took my first tour to the Western Front which was a great success

Here are a few photos of the trip.

Next Tour April 2017

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Serre no 1 Cemetery

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Notre Dames Des Lorette - Ring of Remembrance

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Thiepval Memorial

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Waterstone's Birmingham

I will be giving an illustrated talk and book signing at Waterstone's Birmingham on 25th July

Details can be found on their Website

There will be a talk in September at Stratford upon Avon in mid September - date to be announced shortly

Photo : The Somme, Thiepval memorial from the air

Shooting from the skies- do and dont's aerial photography

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When I had the opportunity to go up in a micro-lite over the Somme it was Dads Army's Corporal Jones's response of 'don't panic' that came to mind. Luckily I have had long experience of photographing from helicopters and small planes as a commercial photographer so was able to take all in my stride.
As usual it is good preparation that ensures good results, you don't want to be wondering about f stops and shutter speeds when you are up 400 feet in the air. Set your camera to speed priority at a 1000th of second and put it the iso up to 400 and you are ready. It is pretty blowy in an open air machine so wrap up well and ensure everything is attached to you by a strap and don't fumble a lens change mid flight ! - I used two camera bodies to get the shots I wanted.

The results were spectacular - but you will need to buy the book to see all the shots I took, but this one is a favourite - Knightsbridge cemetery on the Somme.

Thanks to David and Julie at
No 56 B&B (an excellent place to stay) for arranging the flight out of La Boisselle and for taking some of these photos.

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Photographers Secret Weapon

It is always easy to tell if a landscape photographer is serious about his craft as regardless of camera make, collections of lenses or any other piece of equipment except one. This will be a professional quality tripod and head. These are expensive and unglamorous bits of lumpy equipment that seem to get in the way of the taking that important photograph.

A tripod does slow you down but that’s exactly the point. It will make you look and ponder, to think through your composition, it will ensure your verticals and horizontals are correct – I learnt this year’s ago when using large and medium format cameras for architectural work. Unless a photograph is deliberately out of plane for effect there is nothing more annoying in a landscape image to see converging buildings and a slightly wonky horizon.

There is another reason also to use a tripod which is equally important. The optimum time to take battlefield shots are dawn and dusk as mentioned in an previous blog . At these times there is rarely enough light to operate a fast shutter speed. Plonk your camera on a tripod – problem solved! It doesn’t not matter if you have a two or even ten second exposure, the image will be sharp.

Next time aerial combat – shooting from the skies …..

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Canadian Memorial - Vancouver Corner Ypres, taken before dawn at 'Stand To' time

Seasons and Weather

In my last piece I indicated that the first and last hours of the day were often the best time for battlefield photography but what about season and the weather? Contrary to what many would expect I prefer to go in late autumn and winter. There are several reasons for this, in summer many of the battlefields, apart from the preserved areas, are covered in crops which cover the lie of the land, an eight foot high field full of maize is not the best way to show the ground. Photograph after the harvest when ploughing is underway will show the ‘bones' of the earth, something somewhat closer to what may have been there a century ago. Combine this with the possibility of mist, rain, snow or low watery sunlight light and you have the opportunity of making of a haunted evocative image.

Next time - The photographer's secret weapon ….

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The Kruisstraat craters in snow - Ypres