Wildlife conservation and landscape photography by Andrew Fusek Peters, Shropshire Andrew Fusek Peters
After writing children’s books for 25 years, Andrew took up photography. He’s spent the past three years photographing the wildlife and landscapes of the Shropshire Hills, near his home in Lydbury North. Much of this work now features in his book Upland.
Above: A summer sunrise on the Mynd – “I remember that morning so well. My daughter and I had the whole Long Mynd to ourselves and I was watching this light unfold and the purple heather in front of me. I felt I couldn’t go wrong.
Mating toads smallholding
When I took this I thought it would be rubbish because the water section is out of focus, but it’s a cracking shot. It looks surreal because the focal length is different under water. I think it came out well. I got the toads used to me by moving very slowly and I got ridiculously close. Their minds were on one thing only – you can often get close to wildlife when they’re mating!
This is taken on an old mine workings near The Bog in the Stiperstones – it’s a favourite habitat of this rare butterfly. This is probably the best one I’ve ever taken of it. You need serious kit but also a skillset to take a shot like this. I’m all about the frame and the beauty, and I want people to be moved by the photo.
Stars reflected wildmoor
I’d just twisted my ankle and was told I shouldn’t drive. But I knew I had to get up to the top of the Shropshire Hills because it was an amazing night. It was minus four degrees and you shouldn’t go up in those conditions, but I risked it. I just had an instinct that it would be interesting and I was right because the wind had died and the sky was perfectly reflected in that pool.
At dusk, looking down on Cranberry Rock
People sometimes don’t believe me, but the colour can intensify at dusk to the point where it looks as though you’ve painted it or used graphic design. It’s worth waiting for that moment and very few people will be around at that time of day. This was a late autumn shot and that cool chill can create some incredible colours.
Moon, rock and purple heather
This is a once-in-a-year opportunity when the heather is blooming under a full moon and you just have to hope for clear weather. To get the moon and a foreground of rock and heather requires a lot of work technically. You need to use a long lens, which brings the moon closer, but you need to be a long way away to get as much foreground in as possible.
A lot of the work I do is out with a ranger called Simon Cooter. I get the benefit of his experience free of charge! On this occasion he stopped in his tracks and said ‘there’s a juvenile cuckoo’. I used stalking techniques to get ridiculously close to the bird. He was feeding, flying between bushes, pretty much ignoring me. I’ve never been that close to a cuckoo before. What a bird!
Gloworm in the verge
We’re trying to liaise and co-operate with local government to make sure these verges aren’t mown, and convey how important they are. This is one of the few places to spot gloworms nowadays, but we should actually be seeing them everywhere. It’s almost impossible to capture them on camera – I have a much better idea of skillset and technique nowadays and I plan to get a better picture.
There used to be a huge number of curlews and lapwings around here, but we’re now potentially moving towards local extinction of those birds. I sense lots of farmers really care, but it’s not just the farming issues – there are more predators, such as foxes and crows. Of the vast amount of pheasants being farmed only half are being shot so are providing food for these predators. We’re dealing with very small numbers of curlews now. I’ll sometimes call myself a conservationist photographer, which sounds a bit poncy but it isn’t. I’ve been told that the photographs raise awareness and make people more likely to act. It feels like a rearguard action in terms of saving these species, but it feels better to light the candle than to have total darkness.”
Scroll down for more examples of Andrew’s work…
Upland – Shropshire’s Long Mynd and the Stiperstones, by Andrew Fusek Peters. RRP: £20. ISBN: 9781910862681. Published by Graffeg. Tel: 01554 824000. www.graffeg.com
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