A tale of two cameras
Family team John and Mike Hayward spend their working lives photographing Shropshire in all its glory.
Their pictures reveal their love of their home county, but do not always reflect the sheer amount of effort and hard work on the other side of the camera.
Tales involving ridiculously early starts on icy winter mornings are legion, as are the long, tedious hours spent waiting for the sun to come out from behind a cloud.
Close encounters with curious cows and sheep are a regular occurrence, while stories of attacks by horseflies and wasps are too numerous to mention.
Then there is the never-to-be-forgotten expedition where the perfect shot involved standing in a field freshly sprayed with sewage - and staying there for half an hour.
Most of the early-morning expeditions are now handled by John. He says: “Basically, you need to be in position to get the perfect sunrise shot about half an hour beforehand.
“If I’m heading for Caer Caradoc in the Stretton Hills, for instance, that’s a 45-minute drive from home followed by a 45-minute walk loaded down with camera equipment to reach the best vantage point.
“Then it’s a case of settling down in the dark and waiting for the sun to come up.”
Things don’t always go to plan - despite careful scrutiny of numerous weather forecasts the night before - and it’s not uncommon to return with no worthwhile pictures to show for all the hard work involved.
Sometimes, however, an unexpected outcome can make up for all the disappointments.
This was the case when yet another early start saw John heading for the Lawley hill, near Church Stretton, which he had previously never photographed at sunrise.
“The picture I wanted to do just wasn’t working but then I happened to turn around and saw a bird perched on a branch with the Wrekin in the distance,” says John.
“The bird was in the perfect position, silhouetted against the golden morning sky, and and I managed to get off four shots before it flew away.”
The resulting image reflects the ideal combination of long shadows and warm light that can be captured at this time of the day.
“Sometimes, it would be easy to feel as if we are repeating ourselves,” says Mike.
“By now we know all the best lay-bys to park in, and all the best vantage points, but the changing seasons and the glorious unpredictability of the English weather mean that we always come back with something different.”