News photographer Peter Macdiarmid woke up yesterday morning (Wednesday) to find his images on the front pages of nine national U.K. newspapers.
The dramatic photographs, taken near London, were of houses on fire because of the extreme heat which saw parts of England hit 40 degrees celcius (104F). A record temperature for Britain.
With the blazing heat the biggest story of the day, Macdiarmid was out looking for the perfect news picture. When Heathrow took the early record for the highest ever temperature, Macdiarmid was near the airport shooting pictures. But when television news channel Sky News began broadcasting footage of a village called Wennington on fire, the photographer quickly hurried to the other side of London.
“I was not that early on the story, I think other colleagues had been there an hour before to shoot images from ground level. I went into a field southwest of the village and decided to fly the drone,” explains Macdiarmid.
He used a DJI Mavic 3 to shoot the pictures, managing to capture some of the flames that were still burning inside residences.
“The advantage of the Mavic 3 is that it has a telephoto lens and a wide-angle lens, which is an equivalent 162mm lens. Initially, it only shot jpg on a 12-megapixel sensor but now it shoots RAW because of firmware updates,” he says.
“I got wide angle photos of the whole village with the house fire and then was able to shoot closer images of a row of houses at the west end of the village.”
Macdiarmid praises the Mavic 3 for allowing him to get a different type of photo which ultimately lead to his unprecedented nine front pages.
“The telephoto lens on the drone is starting to become like hiring a helicopter and sitting with your feet on the skids with a telephoto lens in your hand.”
The Mavic 3 has two cameras, a 4/3-inch sensor with 20-megapixels of resolution behind a 24mm f/2.8 lens. While the secondary camera has a 1/2-inch sensor with 12-megapixels and a 162mm f/4.4 lens.
— Peter Macdiarmid (@PeterKMac1) July 20, 2022
The photos depict a scene of total destruction and the families who live in Wennington face being left with nothing after the fire ripped through their homes.
“Obviously you feel for the residents and the homeowners. My work takes me all over the world and I see good things and bad things, you’re there to tell the story. You would rather have nine pages of property that are not being destroyed,” says Macdiarmid.
“In terms of illustrating the story of the day, the incredible 40-degree heat, the images were strong and I thought there was a good chance they would be picked up. Nine pages is a personal record for me. I think I’ve had seven front pages in the past.”
Macdiarmid co-owns London News Pictures who put the pictures out to the press. He has been an active news photographer for 35 years, spending 10 years as a senior news photographer for Getty Images.
Image credits: All photos by Peter Macdiarmid/London News Pictures