Category Archives: aircraft

Ooops…even the “best of the best” cock it up

An easy mistake lol…..


Dambusters 70th Anniversary

Today, Thursday May 16th 2013 marks the 70th Anniversary of the raid carried out by 133 airmen in 19 Lancaster bombers from the specifically formed 617 squadron, was an attempt to cripple a major part of the Nazi war economy by carrying out attacks on three dams in the industrial heartland of Germany. Fifty-six of the men did not return from the top-secret mission, which required them to fly the Lancaster bombers at just 60ft above the ground – incredibly low when compared to the 250ft aircraft must fly at nowadays – in the dark across northern Europe.

The planes, armed with scientist Dr Barnes Wallis’ bouncing bombs, flew to the Ruhr Valley either side of midnight on May 16, 1943. The Mohne and Eder dams were breached during the raid and the Sorpe damaged. The Derwent reservoir, in the Hope Valley in Derbyshire, was used for practice runs by the elite crew of 617 Squadron as they prepared for the groundbreaking mission. The pilots practised the dangerous low-flying manoeuvres they needed to perfect in order to drop the new “bouncing bomb”, designed by engineer Barnes Wallis, at the exact height and level necessary for it to skim across the water and explode against German dams. Three dams in the Ruhr valley, Nazi Germany’s industrial heartland, were destroyed in the raid on May 16-17 1943. Tragically, 56 of the 133 airmen who went on the raid did not return.

Today, the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and 617 Squadron recreated history by flying over its twin towers, before continuing on to Chatsworth House to carry out a fly past.


Today, the RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and 617 Squadron recreated history by flying over the twin towers of the Derbyshire reservoir. The flypast, carried out by RAF Battle of Britain Memorial Flight (BBMF) and 617 Squadron, was one of a number of events taking place around England today to mark the raids 70 years ago.

The Dam raids, named Operation Chastise, now have a legendary status not only because of the skill and innovation needed by the pilots to carry them out; they had to fly at 60ft above the ground – incredibly low when compared with today’s pilots who must fly 250ft above ground – in the large Lancaster aircraft, in the dark and at speed, but also because of the problems it caused Germany at a crucial point during the Second World War.

This was something that 70 years later makes us proud to be British and undoubtedly deserves a mention. I couldn’t get to Derbyshire today to grab some images so instead I have decided to post some from the 80th anniversary of Leeds Bradford Airport. On this day a Lancaster Bomber serial PA474 (the same frame as todays flight) performed several low passes of the airport.


Thanks for reading…. If you would like to see some more images from this day, I have a set on Flickr here.


Watch the birdie……


I started this post a few weeks ago and never got to actually finish it let alone upload it. This is more of a “Story behind the image” paragraph as opposed to a normal blog post.

My love for aviation photography hit its peak in the mid 2000’s. You will know about my obsession with aircraft and aviation if you have read my blog before but if you havent please take a look here . The hours I have spent at airports watching aircraft, logging registrations and taking photographs have accumulated and if I had the means to calculate a total I think it would make grim reading. Over this time I have seen some strange things, some funny events and some sad events too. I have seen Deer, Foxes, Rabbits, Hares, Kestrels, Falcons, Buzzards, Rats, Mice, Stoats and Weasels to name some in the animal category. I have seen fires and floods, bad landings and good landings and believe it or not crashes too…and before you ask they all walked away.

It always pays to keep your eyes open when photographing a subject as there is so much more going on around you. In the case of the aircraft above it was just another day at Leeds Bradford Airport and the Britannia Airways flight to Palma was preparing to depart on runway 14 to head south. One of the key things about aircraft photography that I discovered later in my years of being interested in this hobby is that you should make this personal. Many fellow enthusiasts concentrate on preparing images for upload to various aviation related websites where there are rules and regulations that must be conformed to. I prefer to do “my own thing” and upload either to my personal site, Flickr or on to this blog. This way I am my own judge and therefore set my own rules (if any at all). The image above was taken on the 8th May 2006 (just seven years ago…..seems like yesterday doesn’t it?) and in the midst of my time of conformation.

Like I just stated, at this time I was conforming to rules and uploading to a couple of the major aviation related websites. The initial image that I took, which would have matched the criteria of the particular site was just of the aircraft and quite normal, head on and aimed strictly at an aviation audience etc.


I noticed the Swallow doing its own personal acrobatic performance for the captain and first officer whilst I was looking through the lens. If I am completely honest it was probably more luck than judgement and the matter of timing was pure coincidence. In the closer image you can see the two pilots have clearly seen the bird and as we all know, birds and aircraft are not a good combination. It was quite a hot day and there was a lot of heat haze as it was three o clock in the afternoon as a result the close up image of the aircraft nose was never going to be the best quality. However, I was very happy with the actual composition.

As photographers we all dream of capturing that one image that stands out from the rest. You know what I mean, the one that just screams of the photographer. A number of years ago I managed to capture an image of a cat drinking from a swimming pool in the Canary Islands. I was sat by the pool one early morning and the feline walked in like he owned the place. He sat down by the edge of the pool and craned his neck to reach the water. I held my shutter finger until just the right second when the cat’s tongue made contact with the water. The image was acquired by Pedigree Pet Foods back in the eighties when it was a lot harder to market your photography but not as easy to capture something special.

The image is a scan from a negative hence the quality is quite poor by todays standards. However, it’s just  a personal record for me as it was one of my first sales.

Always carry your camera…. you never know what you are going to see.

Thank you for reading, as always all comments, good or bad are welcome.

Take care.

Crosswind Landings

One of my favourite aviation videos….crosswind landings…

The Clear, The Cold & The Graduated Sky

It appears that I am a day behind. Having tapped off at least 100 images a day for the last 3 or 4 days a backlog is a certainty. Yes, here I am wanting to blog about yesterday(Friday)  and finding that I am having to include images from as far back as Wednesday and Thursday. So on this note, let me jump back to Wednesday. 05:45 and I hop out of bed to do a “sky-check”. Our bedroom faces west and I have no view to the east unless I wander through the house to look out of another window. If I am truthful I can actually look westwards without getting out of bed as I can see the sky between the blind and curtains. Checking the weather and the cloud base therefore means getting out of bed. A quick totter to the window revealed a clear sky, twinkling stars and an over flying aircraft with a feint vapour trail in the dark but slowly paling sky.

Coming up with new ideas for a decent sunrise shot is getting quite difficult. Yeadon Tarn is a great place for wildlife, water and trees as foreground and even aircraft. As am sure you will appreciate that once you have done something a few times it’s actually nice to have a change and try a different approach. Over 2012 I tried one or two different locations including the airport all of which proved very successful. I discovered that spreading the locations about over the twelve months allows different images as the sunrise location changes throughout the year. The weather and clouds play a huge part of this too with no two days being the same.
After grabbing a quick coffee I proceeded to de-ice the car and headed off to Yeadon Tarn. In an ideal world it would be nice to see it as still as a mill-pond with no wind, an ideal photo opportunity. Rarely does this happen as its location is quite high above sea level. From the area around the Tarn there are good views with great foreground subjects facing in most directions. In particular the view towards the airport runway makes for superb shots of aircraft taking off and landing in to the rising sun. I must admit that I don’t usually go for the aircraft option whilst I am by the tarn as the runway is about 20 feet higher than the level of the tarn making it quite difficult to obtain any decent background detail. I parked my car in the easterly car park and just 20 yards from that spot I am able to get some very pleasing images of the rising sun. Below you will see what I mean about the departing aircraft. I wouldn’t normally include an aircraft in a sunrise where the sky had clouds to reflect colour and give some definition to the image. This morning it didn’t matter, the sky was clear with hardly a cloud. My vision was about to be become reality.


As the sun just started to emerge over the horizon I could hear the noise of jet engines roaring in to life. An aircraft was about to depart. I had my plan laid out. I would capture the aircraft in single frame, then holding the exposure I would capture then same scene to the left and the right of the aircraft. This would enable me to stitch the three images together to make a panorama. The panorama looks more appropriate in a sunrise or sunset shot when there is a lot of plain foreground with no detail. See what you think, the shot is shown above. Or should I say three shots. I actually regard this series of images as one of my best mornings yet.

There was one more image that just screamed out “Take me, Take me”. From my location looking across the water the colour had now turned a bland yellow and was fusing with the now blue spring sky. However looking left just out of the direct sun I noticed a woman walking a dog. As she proceeded towards me I lifted my camera and tapped off a couple of frames. You could see her breath in the cold morning air. Both the dog and its owner cast long black shadows in front of them which made for a lovely composition as she walked the path through the gap in the bushes. The final image is shown below.


Once the sun had risen all chance of getting anything decent whilst facing east in that direction were non existent. It was just way too bright. So I decided to call it a wrap and headed off back home, to the warmth and a chance to sit down with my beautiful wife and have some breakfast.

Thank you for reading. As always, comments welcome.

Kestrel Seven Nine Three cleared to land – The Images

Further to my post “Kestrel Seven Nine Three cleared to land” here are some images from a couple of hours spent photographing aircraft at Leeds & Bradford Airport. Also included are a couple more images of the Kestrel and a Red Kite too. Hope you enjoy… I am finally catching up with my editing and blogging and should be up to speed by the end of the week. That is unless I take more images….Why the hell not?

After the worst of the snow | Leeds Bradford Airport | 29th March 2013

A small gallery of images from Fridays trip up to the airport. After my morning’s adventure around Otley, Fewston and Menwith Hill the lovely sunshine drew me in. With the wind favouring departures and arrivals on runway 14 a trip up to the Cemetery location was in order. A chance to bump up my very low photocount for 2013. Hope you enjoy the images, a little bit of snow and sunshine makes all the difference

3 months of nothing..then 3 days of everything


I sit here at my desktop PC, breakfast is cooking (Porridge in case you wondered) and I have about 90 minutes to eat and turn out a blog that is worth reading and somehow explains my absence. I

3 months of nothing…then 3 days of everything That’s just how it goes isn’t it….typical. It’s not as if we have had marvelous weather over the last three months in the United Kingdom because we havent…oh unless you think that snow and ice is the be all and end all and you are an up and coming Antarctic explorer. My blogging has just slipped in to the shadows ever so slightly as my ventures swallowed up all my spare time leaving me with a double whammy. No time to edit the actual images therefore no time to blog them as well . Ok, I managed to get the snow shots on here with very brief explanation of that particular day except that was only half of it. There was more…

Yes, March 29th was two days ago and since then I havent stopped. What was supposed to follow on from my post “After the worst of the snow” was the rest of my day. Using a very familiar phrase on No More Dead Pixels this is where it all went Pete Tong. The Picture count for 2013 is low…somewhere in the 3000 region (That’s 5K lower than 2012 for the record). But the last three days have seen over 1000 images pass from CF Card to PC and a queue forming at the editing office. I don’t appear to have the time to edit the images quick enough to get them on to my blog to support to the words. I like to be up to date and I am failing…..miserably……yes, miserably.

Back to the 29th and after the random mad dash chasing snow images I even squeezed in another photo session that afternoon…this time at the airport. I know, I know….its my old haunt but every once in a while you need a quick fix don’t you. Anyway it was a prelude. A warm up session as an invitation to meet up with some fellow photographers on Saturday could never be turned down. Karl Wilson is a great image maker whom I met at the Great Yorkshire Stair Climb last year. Please take a look at Karls photography on his website here. Karl is a published and renowned photographer from Leeds and fancied his chances at some aviation photography. A subject matter that has passed across my lens many times.

More on that in a subsequent blog……

So, just so you know I havent gone away and you don’t think No More Dead Pixels is actually “Dead” here I am. Your visits have been truly welcomed so please come back for more. I could never imagined 10,000 hits in the two and half months I have been doing this and for that I am grateful.

The sunset by the way was a lazy one. I took it from the bedroom window last night. Well… looked nice.

Back later……

From one extreme to another…

Having mentioned this before in other posts and pages on NoMoreDeadPixels I wont go in to detail but just say “I am obsessed with the weather”. Why wouldn’t I be, afterall it’s a photographers best friend. Living in the United Kingdom doesn’t exactly give us the ability to sunbathe 365 days a year now does it? The cold snap over the last few days has produced a few sunny spells but nothing worth going out for. However, this was about to change.

Yesterday saw quite a thaw over the pleasant West Yorkshire scenery but only due to a rise in the temperatures. The weather forecast last night showed a dramatic drop in down to well below freezing point with clear skies over most of the north of England. My thoughts as I went to bed were to set the alarm and get myself up and about for a sunrise shot. There havent been that many opportunities this year and here we are fast approaching April. Checking the sunrise clock on my phone things have really moved fast, the sun now rises at 06:07 as opposed to 08:14 when I got my last shots back in January.  The angle has changed considerably too as the sun rises further in the east as opposed to a south-easterly direction.

I set the alarm for 05:30 thinking that would give me ample time to get sorted and get myself to the airport perimeter. Living on a hill limits the locations available for a decent foreground (An essential part of low ligh/dusk and dawn shots) so without travelling a few miles I tend to stick to a similar spot each day. I actually woke at 05:00 and and peeked through the blind. The sky was clear and the stars were blatently obvious and this was my cue to get up. It was a good job I did too, the car was frozen, a hard frost too. I fiddled with the controls for a few minutes before I got it set right. Being a hire car and a different model to my own vehicle some of the settings were not as immediatley obvious but I sussed it in the end.

After driving towards the airport I reconisdered by original decision and decided to stop off at the dam to see what photographically, was on offer. The paling of the sky had begun and the bird life was bringing in the Thursday morning in style. It was very cold but I managed a couple of frames just before the sun made an appearance. A managed a couple of low-light photostitches before moving on to my chosen airport location 300 yeards away.

My calculation regarding the sunrise location was spot on, just to the left of the control tower and a couple of departing aircraft on runway 14 made some foreground subjects for a few more frames. They were slightly different from my normal approach and I dont mind explaining my ideas. I am never afraid of shooting in to the sun and I have reflected this in many other posts. I find that thinking out of the box and breaking the rules adds my personality in to the images. The results are very random and are a great challenge in Photoshop. I waited until the sun was quite high in the sky to grab some frames facing direct in to the light and creating lens enormous flare. This was just what I wanted. At sunrise the sun appears orange as it crosses the horizon, this is because air molecules and airborne particles scatter white sunlight as it passes through the Earth’s atmosphere. This is done by a combination of Rayleigh scattering and Mie scattering.
IMG_9052_stitchPure sunlight is white in color, containing a spectrum of colors from violet to red. When sunlight interacts with atmospheric particles much smaller than the wavelength of visible light, a phenomenon known as Rayleigh scattering occurs. In this process, light is scattered in various directions, with shorter wavelengths (violet, blue, and green) being scattered more strongly than longer ones (orange and red). Because of this effect, the Sun generally appears yellow when observed on Earth, since some of the shorter wavelengths are scattered into the surrounding sky. This also makes the sky appear increasingly blue farther away from the Sun. During sunrise and sunset, the longer path through the atmosphere results in the removal of even more violet and blue light from the direct rays, leaving weak intensities of orange to red light in the sky near the Sun.


You can see the wing of the aircraft shadowed in the melted ice blowing off the runway. Looks quite strange doesn’t it? Please take a look at the full set in the slideshow below

Hope you enjoyed reading. Thanks for looking, please come back soon for some more “pixels”

One of my favourite images from last year.

This was taken at Cemetery Road, Yeadon looking south-east towards the airport at the rising sun. In November the skies are normally grey but in 2012 we didn’t do too badly. This was probably the best sunrise I saw all year. Capturing the aircraft in the scene made for a combination of my two favourite subjects.

Via Flickr:
A compilation of images, some photostitches and some cropped – Not seen a sunrise as nice as this for many months..some of the images are aviation related as opportunities couldnt be missed. Hope you enjoy them as much as I did shooting them and editing them. Thanks for looking

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