Adam Burton Photography

Stiperstones, Shropshire

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My first encounter with the Stiperstones occurred a few years back when I was working in IT.  I was due to travel up to Shropshire for a meeting with a company based in the village of Pontesbury.  Not wishing to miss a potential photo opportunity, I planned on bringing the camera in case I had any spare time on the trip.  But there was one problem; I had not previously been to Shropshireand knew absolutely nothing about what photographic delights the county offered.  Yet soon after conducting a small amount of internet research I came across an incredibly eye catching and unusual name – the Stiperstones.

Such a name conjured up a magical and mysterious location.  Even as I read the name Stiperstones I felt somehow drawn to the place and knew that I had to visit.  As I hastily concluded my meeting my mind was already fixed on a dash to the Stiperstones for sunset.  My research had prepared me for what to expect – a hilltop ridge scattered with rocky tors set amongst windswept moorland.  As I wandered around the ridge the thing that amazed me the most was that I had never heard any mention of the Stiperstones before, yet here was a location absolutely bursting with atmosphere and interest.

As the late afternoon sun lowered in the sky I climbed onto the top of a tor named Cranberry Rock, from where I enjoyed a spectacular vista of rolling countryside surrounding me in all directions.  From this elevated viewpoint I surveyed the nearby ridge, looking for a suitable position to set up my camera.  I spotted a large patch of purple heather at the base of a tor, and, deciding this could make for a strong composition headed in its direction.  The purple heather offered a natural colourful foreground, which guided the view first towards the tor and then onto the distant background hills.

Unfortunately, clouds had rolled in to eliminate any chances I had of capturing golden evening lighting.  But with the clouds obscuring the sun this reduced the contrast throughout the scene, meaning I could shoot directly into the light, albeit with the aid of a 0.9 ND grad filter.  The strong filter had the side effect of darkening the cloudy sky which I used to my advantage, helping to capture a brooding atmospheric image.

The sunset that evening was disappointing, but as is so often the case the clouds soon faded in the evening twilight to reveal a beautiful pink glow.  Luckily as the colours revealed themselves I was already in position on the side of a tor, camera on tripod, composition fixed.  This time I opted for a landscape orientation, and all but excluded the tor in favour of the wide open moorland and countryside beyond.  The flowering heather and scattered rock piles provided patterned and colourful interest to the otherwise featureless hillside leading the eye on a meandering passage westwards towards Wales.  Again the ND Grad filter was necessary to balance the exposure between the bright sky and rapidly darkening landscape.

After taking several more exposures, I packed up and wandered around the tors in the growing darkness, soaking up the atmosphere of this mysterious and relatively unknown place.  Throughout the whole evening I had the location virtually to myself; a rare treat in such a beautiful location.  

1 Comments

Hi Adam, love the first shot, specatacular. I grew up in Shropshire but I’ve not been to the Stiperstones since I was a kid. Your shots are inspiring; I must get back there.

by Richard Arran on 03rd November 2010

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