Getty Images news photographers help the world bear witness to the biggest and sometimes the most unexpected happenings around the globe.

In this series, some of our best known photographers and contributors recall some of the most memorable moments in their career.

I was woken by a dull thud at 6 a.m. on a cold December morning in 2005. 

I got out of bed to find that an explosion at an oil storage terminal 34 miles away in Hertfordshire, north of London had been heard even further away, with some reports saying that it was even heard across the English Channel in Belguim.

Along with a few other colleagues, we were dispatched immediately.

The car radio was keeping me abreast of the situation. After negotiating a few roadblocks I found myself in a small housing estate in a residential road called Half Moon Meadow on the border of a field that lead directly to the oil depot.

Nobody had been killed, but local people were in shock at the scale of the explosion. I made my way to the edge of the field where people had gathered to look at the mushroom like could of smoke billowing  up into the winter sky.

The surprise of first seeing the enormous smoke cloud will stay with me for a long time. Police began to arrive in the area where I was standing and the shot of the lone policeman looking at the scene was taken at that moment. A small almost helpless figure in a high visibility vest stands out as a clear and strong image from the day.

56413852. HEMEL HEMPSTEAD, UNITED KINGDOM - DECEMBER 11: Smoke rises from the a fire at the Buncefield fuel depot on December 11, 2005 in Hemel Hemstead, England. The explosions are being treated as accidental, scotching rumours that a plane was involved. (Photo by Peter Macdiarmid/Getty Images)

About Peter Macdiarmid
Peter was born in Scotland in 1964 and has been a photographer for 26 years starting out on local newspapers in south London. He then progressed to cover assignments all over the world for The Independent and The Daily Telegraph newspapers. He also worked for Reuters before joining Getty Images as Senior News Photographer in 2005.

Peter’s work has been recognized with awards from the Getty Images Picture Editor’s Awards. He has also been named News Photographer of The Year by the ‘Press Photographer’s Year Awards’ and recently was named as Pulitzer finalist for his images of the Arab Spring.

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