NYMR Wartime Weekend 2017

I had a look along to the North Yorkshire Moors Railway Wartime Weekend event on Saturday and travelled the line between Grosmont, Goathland, Levisham and Pickering and back trying to get a few pictures from the day…

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Images (c) Ian Forsyth 2017/  Getty Images

See more of my work in the galleries & blog at Room 2850

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Green Party Conference 2017

Covering the Green Party conference yesterday I had seen on the agenda for the day that there was a trip planned for a small group of party members to visit the Kirby Misperton Protesters Site to offer their support to the anti-fracking protesters.

The camp was set up by anti-fracking protesters after the local council granted planning permission to Third Energy to begin work at the nearby KM8 drilling site on the outskirts of the North Yorkshire village. This early work assesses the feasibility of carrying out fracking at the site. However the permissions for this are still outstanding.

I was hoping that taking a trip with the delegates to the camp might make for pictures which better showed some of the issues that are of particular importance to the party and which would bring these issues to life so I thought it was worth going along.

The visit to the protesters camp which is situated in a field a little over a mile or so from the entrance to the KM8 site came as Green Party members held their annual conference at the Harrogate International Centre.

After a brief visit to meet a small number of the protesters who were at the site  – the protesters come and go but always maintain a presence – including ‘James’ the main chef and ‘Geoff’, a former Engineer who lives in the back of a Robin Reliant and who has built much of the infrastructure on the site and who showed me around, the delegates then had to head back to Harrogate for the rest of the conference.

That afternoon there was a main speech by Green Party MEP Molly Scott Cato with party Co-leader Caroline Lucas watching from the audience before she then chaired a panel discussion on Brexit later in the day.

While I don’t think there was enough time to really explore the pictures with the protestors at the camp I still think it was worth going along. The conference runs for two more days and below are a few pictures from the day…

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The picture below was used the following day in ‘The Guardian’:

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Images (c) Ian Forsyth 2017/  Getty Images

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Conservative Party Conference 2017

As the dust begins to settle following the Conservative party Conference which this year was held at the Manchester Central Convention Complex I’ve put together some of the pictures that I shot from over the four days.

Always a hectic and busy affair for any photographer and other members of the TV and media. I joined other freelancers, agency and newspaper staff photographers to cover the event.

Here’s a few from the conference:

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Kit & Equipment:

During the conference I was shooting on a pair of Fuji X Pro 2’s. One with a 16mm f1.4 lens and the other with a 50-140mm f2.8 lens. To edit I used my iPad Air 2 using ‘Lightroom’ and ‘Filterstorm Pro’ to caption before transmitting the pictures through the ‘personal hotspot’ facility on my phone.

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Images (c) Ian Forsyth 2017

See more of my work in the galleries & blog at Room 2850

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The Starchaser

Early Monday morning I was driving up to the main military base in Otterburn in Northumberland to join up with a convoy of vehicles that were heading out at 6.00am into the depths of the military ranges.

Once they arrived at their destination they were going to launch a rocket.

The group were led by Steve Bennett, the managing director of Starchaser.

Starchaser Industries are a privately held, high technology group of companies that specialise in the development, operation and commercialisation of space related products and services.

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After a meandering drive among the numerous forest blocks that loomed out of the darkness and across the range roads and as the early morning light slowly revealed the beauty of the surrounding countryside the culmination of months of tests, checks and engineering work was approaching the point of no return.

We moved past the fluttering red range flags and pulled into the launch site so that final preparations could be made ahead of the launch of the Skybolt 2 Research Rocket.

The launch was to take place in a training base known as a ‘FOB’ (Forward Operation Base) that sits tucked into the range area of the Otterburn moorland. Used as a mock up location of similar bases used in Iraq and Afghanistan it aids the training of military personnel on aspects of life within these locations prior to deployment and the site offered a perfect location for the launch.

 

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The Skybolt 2 rocket stands at over 8 meters tall. The reusable, British made rocket is the biggest ever to be launched in the country and it’s hoped it will pave the way for manned tests of Starchaser’s planned Space Tourism rocket.

This test flight was in collaboration with the Science and Engineering Faculty of the University of Chester and its aim was to test vital electronic systems and the bespoke parachute recovery system.

Other payloads included a science project from Sheffield Hallam University, commercial cargo, video cameras and a stuffed toy dog called Sam from pupils at Morecambe Bay Primary School.

The planned height for this test was 4,000ft at which point the three sections would jettison apart before parachute systems deployed allowing the sections of the rocket to return to earth so they could be used again.

They worked on two out of the three parts of the rocket and the nose cone and centre section floated steadily to earth with only one failing to operate when the lines failed and the tail section of the rocket came down hard in the heather a few hundred meters from the FOB perimeter.

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The successful launch provided information and data that will assist with future rocket developments.

The rocket will now tour around schools as part of an educational outreach programme. Steve is aiming high with his next project, the Nova 2. This is a 12-metre rocket big enough to carry a person and is intended to launch within the next 18-24 months.

Now when I think of rockets, rocket launching and general space related subjects I think of clinical and almost surgical procedures. Of dials and gauges and measurements and highly controlled environments. Of serious and efficient NASA engineers cutting about with important ‘stuff’ to get done.

What was interesting to see, in this very British rocket launch however was the relaxed approach, though no less dedicated I’m sure by the army of enthusiastic and committed volunteers.

Each of them chipping in to help. To get the job done. Whether it was making the brews – and when one of the first things to be unloaded from the support vehicle carrying the rocket is a tea-urn you know they know the score!

To the work that needed to be done ahead of the launch each of them was passionate and committed to the job – to launch this rocket – so if you need to wrap the delicate nose cone section of the rocket in an old sheet for protection then that’s what needs to be done. It’s a practical and common-sense approach.

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Overseeing all this work and taking on numerous roles himself was Steve. Whether it was using kitchen roll to clean the rocket down or testing the launch triggering mechanism he was on it and all while finding time to juggle TV interviews.

Passionate about space flight since a young child he is the driving force behind Starchaser and their desire to dip into the potential of a tourism based space program.

Whilst some may think of all this as folly or might question the serious nature of it all there is no doubt that the passion is there driving him forward and after previous attempts, some with success and also some with their knock backs I’d like to think of him more as a pioneer.

Of someone who has a dream and is going for it. Taking those first tentative steps, that first 4,000 feet and boldly going towards a future of space exploration. Maybe he has the right stuff and he’ll get there eventually or what he helps develop might lead or inspire others to pick up the baton? Only time will tell.

But whatever happens the romantic explorer hidden deep inside us all must surely wish him and his team success.

Here’s some more pictures…

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Images (c) Ian Forsyth 2017 / Getty Images

See more of my work in the galleries & blog at Room 2850

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NFU Assignment – Behind the Scenes

After I was approached a few months ago by the rbl brand agency who had been asked by one of their clients, the National Farmers Union to take on a project to help promote a new NFU Healthcare campaign that they were launching in conjunction with BUPA I shot a series of documentary pictures on a number of farmers to show different farming types.

The posts can be seen herehere , here and here.

The brief was to photograph the farmers on their farms showing them in their environment in a natural way and to show them as they carried out their normal day-to-day work. The pictures were to be mainly in black and white but a few could be in colour. A couple of posed portraits could be added to the set but essentially it was to document them in a Day in the Life style.

From the pictures I shot rbl have now made their selects and after presenting them to the NFU the final decisions were made and they were used in the campaign which is now running in print in various poster and leaflet campaigns and online.

Some examples of how the pictures were used in the campaign can be seen here and here in a blog post from rbl which outlines their approach to the campaign and what they were looking for with the photographs.

 

As the photographer my approach to this brief was to try to keep things as simple as possible. There’s no point making things more complicated if they don’t need to be and that approach to simplicity affects all aspects of how I approach most shoots.

I began each shoot with a phone call a day or two ahead of the day to introduce myself to each of the farmers. The reason for this was partly out of courtesy of course but also as a way of beginning to break the ice. It can be quite an unusual thing to have a photographer who you don’t know turn up on your doorstep and start photographing you so I wanted to make every effort to break down any barriers that inevitably go up in any situation when there is a camera watching you all day!

It also gave an opportunity to talk directly to them to explain about the sort of pictures I was hoping to take and what my approach would be on the day. I think some might have expected me to interrupt their whole day and stop them from getting on with their work when actually their normal daily routines was exactly what I was after.

I think this early contact helped as in all of the cases once I had bypassed the more formal language of the original shoot briefing and put what I was hoping to get into real world terms and language all of the farmers seem more relaxed and had a better understanding of what I was hoping to get.

 

When it came to my kit I approached it much as I would do with the press and feature work I do. I use two Leica M9 and two Fuji X Pro 2 cameras for all of my work in one combination or another but for this job and knowing that there was a possibility of extremes of weather with rapidly changing light and changing environments I opted to use the Fuji’s as they are a bit more robust and have better high ISO abilities than the Leica’s.

So I used my two Fuji X Pro 2 cameras. With them I had a 16mm f1.4 lens, a 35mm f2 lens and a 50-140mm f2.8 zoom lens. The Fuji’s aren’t full frame cameras so in full frame terms these focal lengths equate approximately to 24mm, 50mm and 70-200mm respectively.

I don’t have or use flash so that wasn’t an issue and I prefer working with natural light where possible which fitted exactly with the pictures I was hoping to get. All my other kit such as spare batteries (x8), spare memory cards, notebook and pencils, chamois leather and the 35mm lens were carried in a set of Domke pouches worn on a belt and which I’ve used for years. This set up lets me work fast and have easy and quick access to my kit – especially the batteries – and without having to carry a bag over my shoulder it means I can move around freely and stops the risk of getting snagged up against something.

I anticipated that on this job I’d be jumping in and out of tractors or onto trucks as well as squeezing between assorted farming machinery and even animals so I needed to be able to move quickly with the minimum of kit to allow me to get into a position to get natural pictures as the farmers went about their work.

Other than that the only other specialised equipment that came in handy especially on the dairy farm were a pair of wellies!

From the start and as the shoot progressed through the day I keep any photographic direction to a minimum and just let things unfold. I’ll chat to the farmers of course through the day but mostly it was about farming or just general stuff unrelated to the pictures I was after. Very occasionally I might find that we were in a good spot to take a slightly more formal portrait but even this was a very quick and simple process and didn’t interrupt the general flow of events.

I find working like this a really exciting way of working but it does place heavy demands on the photographer and whether on this shoot or any number of other shoots I’ve done I frequently find that at the end of the day my head aches from the concentration needed to be constantly aware of potential pictures and I feel physically drained. To try to anticipate what might happen and then of course be in a position to take the picture is quite difficult and for every picture that works there are many more that don’t so the accumulative effect is that by the end you can be quite physically and mentally tired.

Ultimately though it’s how I prefer to work and the challenges of going into an unfamiliar situation in the search for pictures pushes you to work hard and hopefully get pictures. Pictures that will also work for the client.

 

So the four previous posts I’ve done and which are linked at the top of this post show each of the farmers I met and some of the pictures I was able to get from the shoots.

My thanks go to the rbl team for asking me to be part of a great project and to the farmers for letting me into their lives for the day, for the brews and the meals I shared with them and for the gin punch Chris! They were all very gracious and patient hosts and as a documentary photographer it is always a fascinating thing to have access into a world or environment that might not be common and to try to find interesting pictures whilst learning new things along the way.

Sarah Dawson

Chris Wray

Will Terry

Nigel Watson

Images (c) Ian Forsyth 2017

See more of my work in the galleries & blog at Room 2850

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Saltburn Hill Climb

Competitors, enthusiasts and spectators enjoy the annual Saltburn by the Sea Historic Gathering and Hill Climb event.

Organised by Middlesbrough and District Motor Club the event brings together owners of a wide range of classic cars and motorcycles dating from the early 1900’s to 1975. Participants take part in a hill climb to test their machines up a steep hill near the town.

Once held as a competitive gathering a change in road regulations forced the hill climb to become a non-competitive event.

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Images (c) Ian Forsyth 2017

See more of my work in the galleries & blog at Room 2850

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NFU Assignment – Nigel Watson – 4 of 4

In this final post from a set of four blog posts showing the pictures I shot on commission for the National Farmers Union – the first three posts can be seen here, here and here – I headed to East Yorkshire near Driffield to spend the day with farmer Nigel Watson.

Nigel runs a 160-acre dairy farm employing robotic milking techniques that improve the productivity of the farm and benefits the well-being of his cows. I followed Nigel as he checked his stock, feeds his animals, cuts grass for feed and carried out some of his daily jobs around the farm.

Below are pictures from the day and examples of how the final pictures were used can be seen here

Dairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel WatsonDairy Farmer Nigel Watson

Images (c) Ian Forsyth 2017

See more of my work in the galleries & blog at Room 2850

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