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Making light work to produce stunning images of Shropshire

By Toby Neal | In photos | Published: | Last Updated:

A Shropshire village amid a sea of mist, spectacular landscapes in the soft light of dusk, and a gorilla watching Shrewsbury shoppers in the rain...

Shifnal-based father and son photographic team Mike and John Hayward have captured stunning images of the county which they have showcased in their new book, "Shropshire From Dawn To Dusk."

And it's a true family effort as Mike's wife Lynne has researched and written the captions.

The book, from Ludlow publishing outfit Merlin Unwin Books, is a follow up to Mike and John's "A Year In Shropshire" which has already sold 2,500 copies.

While former Star photographer Mike tends to focus in his work on people, John is happy to get up before dawn trudging his heavy camera equipment across Shropshire moor and bogland and up steep hillsides to find that all-important best light for his magical landscapes.

Mike says: "While I love the Shropshire landscape, the many years I spent as a press photographer have made me more than comfortable with capturing images of people.

"I'm always on the lookout for the humorous and the offbeat, sometimes without the subject even knowing they've been 'snapped.'"

Among his own favourite images in the book are of morris dancers queueing at a bus stop in Shrewsbury.

Often, he says, it's a waiting game, as in his picture of the gorilla in Wyle Cop in Shrewsbury. The fibreglass animal was part of a project based on the town's links with Charles Darwin.

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"I knew what I hoped to see, but I had to wait for over an hour in the pouring rain until a group of people sheltering beneath umbrellas walked past the fibreglass gorilla who appears to be starting straight at them."

And he couldn't resist taking a picture of the so-called Boot Tree at Blakeridge Wood, near Bishop's Castle. For unclear reasons the tree has lots of old boots hanging from the branches.

Mike's equipment is a Fuji XT2 camera with 10-24mm, 35mm, and 55-200mm lenses. He also used a Fuji X100F camera.

John says he is never happier than when he is out and about in the Shropshire hills, and spends a lot of time checking weather forecasts to take advantage of the best conditions.

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"My favourite time of the day is sunrise. This is not only because the light is at its best, but also because it's quiet and I generally have an entire hill to myself."

Often, he says, it is the shots which are not planned which produce the best results, and time and time again he has discovered that you must never let a photo opportunity slip past.

His own favourite shot in the book is of two roe deer amid trees and bluebells on Burrow Hill.

John's equipment is a Nikon D850 camera and the following Nikon lenses – 14mm f/2.8, 20mm f/3.5, 24-70mm f/2.8, 70-200mm f/4, 200-500mm f/5.6.

"Add in a tripod and that means my bag weights around 28 lbs."

"Shropshire From Dawn To Dusk" is hardback, has 160 colour images, and costs £20.

Toby Neal

By Toby Neal
Feature Writer

A journalist in Shropshire for 40 years, mainly writes features and columns, especially about aspects of Shropshire history. Lives in Telford and is based at the Ketley headquarters.

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