Haar in the woods

Haar or sea fret is a cold sea fog. It occurs most often on the east coast of England or Scotland between April and September, when warm air passes over the colder North Sea.

Haar is typically formed over the sea and commonly occurs when warmer moist air moves over the relatively cooler North Sea causing the moisture in the air to condense, forming haar. 

Sea breezes and easterly winds then bring the haar towards the coast where it can continue for several miles inland. This can be common in the UK summer when heating of the land creates a sea breeze, bringing haar in from the sea and as a result can significantly reduce temperatures compared to those just a few miles inland.

For several days this fog has covered much of the coastline around Saltburn and its whispery fingers have reached the short distance into the woodland that stretches down to the beach.

 Image (c) Ian Forsyth 

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Behind the shot – The Elephant Crossing

In February 2016 I was on a trip to Kenya. It was a personal trip rather than a work trip but being a photographer…well you know how it is!

We were on a safari drive making our way through the Masai Mara National Reserve. The reserve is an area of spectacular savannah wilderness in southwestern Kenya, along the Tanzanian border.

Its animals include lions, cheetahs, elephants and zebra’s. Wildebeest traverse its grassy plains and rolling hills during their annual migration.

Nile Crocodiles and pods of hippo’s populate the Mara and Talek rivers as they meander through the Mara before they spill out into Lake Victoria.

It is truly awe inspiring.

The Toyota land cruiser we were in, driven expertly by a really great and knowledgable bloke called Mahamed who in the years since the trip has subsequently become a friend, drove us along a bumpy track – all the tracks on the Mara are bumpy by the way – and as I stood in the back of the vehicle, bouncing off the open roof space with my cameras as I tried to keep an eye out for potential pictures I realised that after the last brief halt a few hundred yards back down the track I had neglected to secure one of my cameras properly.

The Fuji XT1 with a 50-140mm f2.8 lens attached was lying loose on a seat in the truck. I know, I know…bad drills all round! And as I turned realising my error the inevitable bump in the track was hit and it fell from the seat.

As it hit the floor of the truck the lens and camera parted company in a very unglamorous way. Rubber seals and tiny screws flying all over the place. It was quickly clear that this camera and lens would take no further active role in this Kenya trip! After a few strong words to myself for my mistake I wrapped the whole thing up in a cloth and put it in my bag to keep all the bits together.

Clearly these things happen. Annoying and frustrating as they are I still had a wide lens on another Fuji body and as usual I had my Leica M9 with a 50mm on it so it wasn’t like I couldn’t take any pictures – that would have been a tragic outcome!

The 50mm was now the longest lens I had to use. A thought that initially gave me a little concern because the immediate thought when you think about a safari holiday in a place like Kenya is that you need the longest glass you can get! But don’t worry. You don’t.

A short while after the Fuji-bump incident we crossed over the River Mara on a bridge not too far from the Kenya/Tanzania border. Stopping to cast our eyes along the banks of the river I noticed a small group of elephants on one side.

Slowly and with the complete assurance of a species completely comfortable in the environment they made their way from the tree-line and across a sandy bank before entering the water and crossing the river.

In their lumbering but highly efficient way they reached the far bank before blending into the trees and out of sight.

I shot the picture here on their approach to the water with the Leica M9 and a 50mm f2 Summicron. The exposure was 1/2000 @f4 with an ISO of 200.

Is there a moral to this story…not especially, other than take care of your kit, have a back up or two if you’re on a big and potentially one-off trip, make the best use of the equipment you have as you can still get good pictures and secure your bloody cameras if you’re bouncing along a rough track…oh and go to Kenya! Guarantee you won’t regret it.

And for those worrying about the state of the Fuji…on eventual return to the UK both camera and lens were repaired perfectly in a very short time by the helpful people at Fuji and both continued on to have a couple more years happy service.

 Image (c) Ian Forsyth

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Scarborough Fishing

On assignment for Bloomberg yesterday I headed to Scarborough for an early start documenting the fishermen within the harbour.

The wider context of the story was that as Brexit begins to come back into play after Coronavirus has dominated world affairs there are worries of an impasse in the negotiations.

As the British and European negotiators faced each other screen-to-screen the latest round of Brexit talks got under way on the same day. During this planned four-day round of negotiations there was one subject above all else that was allocated more time than any other: fishing rights.

My brief was to get general pictures and video clips of the harbour to illustrate stories about the fishing rights negotiations that Bloomberg or their clients might subsequently write.

Here’s a few of the stills from the day…

 Image (c) Ian Forsyth / Bloomberg

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Cliff Stones

Signs offer reassurance along a path that follows steep sea cliffs on the outskirts of Saltburn to support those who might be contemplating suicide. The messages have been placed there by local man, Paul Waugh, a former Coastguard who has taken on the responsibility of trying to reduce the number of suicides along this stretch of sea cliffs.
Increased social isolation, loneliness, health anxiety, economic pressures and stress are leading to increased concern for mental health issues during the Coronavirus pandemic. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson, who returned to Downing Street this week after recovering from Covid-19, said the country needed to continue its lockdown measures to avoid a second spike in infections.

 Image (c) Ian Forsyth / Getty Images

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Hazelgrove

Hazel Grove is a small narrow wooded ravine lying to the north of Saltburn.

The predominant trees in the wood are sycamores, Scots pines, Corsican pines and a few ash trees. 

The water draining down this valley from the surrounding hillsides creates a damp atmosphere in the woods, which has given rise to a very rich fern flora.

 Image (c) Ian Forsyth

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Storm Jorge

Flooding affects homes and businesses in East Cowick and Snaith after the River Aire bursts its banks on February 29, 2020 in East Cowick, United Kingdom.

Flooding from the swollen River Aire continues to cause damage in East Yorkshire. Properties have been flooded in part of the county, with residents warned that disruption could last for days. Emergency services remain in the towns after more than 60 homes were evacuated.

The next named storm, Storm Jorge is expected to bring further heavy rain through the weekend.

On assignment on Saturday and Sunday for Getty Images these are some of the pictures I was able to take…

 

 

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(Picture (c) Danny Lawson)

 Image (c) Ian Forsyth / Getty Images

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We are the dead canaries

Extinction Rebellion demonstrators joined with local campaigners for a three-day mass action protest at the Bradley Open Cast coal mine near Consett.

The ‘We are the Dead Canaries’ action is the first of many during a planned 40 Days of Action alongside other events taking place to coincide with Lent.

Banks Mining Group who operate the mine want to extract around 90,000 tonnes of coal and 20,000 tonnes of fireclay from 18.5 hectares of land, with work to be completed by August next year. This is in addition to the 500,000 tonnes of coal that will be extracted from the existing site in the Pont Valley.

Located between Leadgate, Dipton and Medomsley in County Durham the mine has been the site of previous protests over recent years and over the next three days demonstrators are blockading the site whilst calling on Durham County Council to reject Bank’s Mining Groups plans to extend.

Extinction Rebellion Durham and North East groups organised the planned three-day action with other campaigners travelling from around the country to join the protest.

On assignment for Getty Images here’s a few of the pictures I shot over the two days that I covered the protest…

 Image (c) Ian Forsyth / Getty Images

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Labour Party Leadership Hustings

The Raddison Blu hotel in Durham was the location for the Labour Party Leadership Hustings this weekend as they approach their final stages.

The leadership hustings between Sir Keir Starmer, Shadow Secretary of State for Exiting the European Union, Lisa Nandy, MP for Wigan and Rebecca Long-Bailey, Shadow Secretary of State for Business took to the stage in the morning to answer questions posed by audience members who wrote their questions to the potential leader as they arrived to watch the hustings.

Following this in the afternoon was the deputy leadership hustings with Richard Burgon, Shadow Secretary of State for Justice and Shadow Lord Chancellor, Ian Murray, MP for Edinburgh South, Dr Rosena Allin-Khan, MP for Tooting, Angela Rayner, Shadow Secretary of State for Education and Dawn Butler, Shadow Secretary of State for Women and Equalities.

The final ballot opened on February 24 for party members and registered and affiliated supporters so they can cast their vote on who they think would be best placed to move the party forward.

Their are two further hustings event planned before the final declaration on who will become leader and deputy leader is announced in London on April 4.

On assignment for Getty Images I headed to Durham to cover the event…here’s a few from the day:

Image (c) Ian Forsyth / Getty Images

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York Vikings

The culmination of the week long York Viking Festival in York sees hundreds of Viking re-enactors gather outside York Minster to march through the City.

This year the dramatic grand finale battle held near Clifford’s Tower was unfortunately cancelled due to extremely high winds but visitors and re-enactors alike seemed to make the most of the event.

Image (c) Ian Forsyth / Getty Images

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New Tools

So I recently made the difficult financial decision of trading in my previous camera and lens system which were Fuji X Pro2’s and swapping over to Sony A9 MkII’s.

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I didn’t arrive at this decision lightly and as any freelance who has invested in a camera system will know – it’s bloody expensive when you are buying this stuff yourself!

But as a working news photojournalist you need to keep on top of your kit and equipment and if there is something that is lacking then if it’s deemed something that is necessary to a professional workflow then sometimes you have to bite the bullet and make some hard decisions.

It had become quite clear over the last couple of years that my lack of ability to ‘live file’ some of my pictures from certain jobs was becoming more of an issue and looking down the road a little it would only become more of a problem.

For anyone reading this who doesn’t know what live filing means, it’s a term given to moving a picture from the camera to the picture desk directly and bypassing the need to edit the image on a laptop in the more traditional digital workflow way.

This is achieved on the Sony A9 MkII cameras by using the WiFi connectivity on the camera to connect to a hotspot or dongle and allowing a picture(s) to be sent directly from the camera via FTP to the relevant news desk.

The benefit of this is one thing…speed.

In the demanding 24 hour news cycle we find ourselves working in these days speed is very much of the essence. If your competition has the means to do it and you don’t then at some point you will lose out either on the picture or on getting the job in the first place.

Every job that’s shot won’t have the requirement to do this and to be honest that’s ok. In the majority of cases you can download the pictures to the laptop, go through them to make your selects, edit, caption and transfer the pictures in the standard way.

But on some jobs such as political events or breaking news or indeed with more general events moving a couple of pictures from a job quickly before following it up later with a more rounded edit the ability to live file is another useful tool to have in the box.

A tool that when it comes down to it could make all the difference between having pictures used or not and meeting last minute deadlines.

The Fuji’s didn’t offer this facility so after deliberating between the main alternatives…Nikon, Canon and Sony for a couple of weeks. I opted for Sony.

The process of live filing is quite an easy one with a bit or preparation ahead of time. The most time consuming part is entering the ftp details of the picture desk(s) that you’re sending too – the good thing here is that the Sony’s allow for up to 10 different ones to be added which can be handy. Once entered they remain there so you only have too do it once and not before every job.

So basically my live file workflow is a simple process:

  1. Start up my EE dongle…
  2. Connect my camera WiFi to the dongle…
  3. Once connected start up the ftp in the menu and wait for it to connect…
  4. Then you’re free to start shooting.
  5. As you go through the shoot have a quick chimp as you go and choose a picture you want to send.
  6. Press one of the buttons on the camera that you’ve set as a function key for ‘ftp transfer’ (I use the C3 button) and it will automatically begin to transmit to the ftp server you have chosen.
  7. Once it’s transmitted a (tick) on the picture shows it’s gone and you can send another.

It’s worth noting that you can send multiple images at once but I try and avoid this as it could slow the ftp process down if it’s not a fast connection. Its also worth noting that as pictures are ftp’ing to the desk in the background you can carry on shooting so you’re not going to miss anything going on in front of you.

As with any new camera there is a period of bedding in where you need to become familiar with all the controls, buttons and menus and what does what and this is an ongoing process that over time will let the camera become more familiar.

It’s hard to understand just how much of an important part muscle memory plays in using a camera and anyone beginning with a new camera that is unfamiliar to them will appreciate the feeling of inadvertently moving a thumb or finger to a button or switch only to realise that it either isn’t there anymore or actually does something totally different on this camera!

The only way this is resolved is hands on the kit and practice. Simple as that. As each job passes the familiarity with the camera grows until eventually it all becomes second nature again.

So far I haven’t been disappointed with the move to Sony and they tick all the boxes I look for in good solid professional working cameras and lenses: Image quality is really good, fast processing, they are full frame, weather sealed and robust, dual cards, fast autofocus, accurate white balance, comfortable and balanced to use, decent battery life…live filing ability.

One thing that is a small frustration is that they don’t have the means to perform a very basic edit on an image in camera. The ability to be able to do a quick crop and even a couple of minor adjustments to the image would be helpful just to tidy it up a little prior to sending it to the desk so hopefully Sony will rectify that in a firmware update further down the line.

But so far so good and I’m enjoying using the new system. While I have always looked at any camera I’ve had including the Leica M9’s I still use as simply a tool to get the job done and tools that will get used hard sometimes it’s good to have something that makes you feel you are now on a level technical playing field with the competition…and as a stringer and freelance that’s an important thing in the world of news and photojournalism where it’s hard enough as it is.

Once the technical stuff is sorted and out of the way then you’re free to do the important part…get the pictures!

This is my Sony kit list as it stands at the minute:

  1. Two Sony A9 MkII’s (both with vertical grips)
  2. 24mm f1.4 GM lens
  3. 85mm f1.4 GM lens
  4. 135mm f1.8 GM lens
  5. 100-400 f4.5-5.6 GM lens

 

Images (c) Ian Forsyth

See more of my work on my website & blog at Room 2850

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