Mike's magnificent Merlin lands top prize in photographic challenge

Mike Parker's Merlin at Yeovilton

Mike Parker captured this stunning image of a Merlin helicopter at Yeovilton air base - Credit: Mike Parker

This powerful photograph, entitled Merlin at Yeovilton, won Mike Parker from Axminster Photography Group first place in the pre-lockdown section of the recent Horseshoe Trophy competition – which was contested by the four camera clubs of Sidmouth, Chard, Honiton and Axminster.

For the first time in the history of the competition, all the images were digital and were judged online to adhere to Covid regulations. 

Mike’s dramatic image captures one of the Fleet Air Arm’s Merlin helicopters being put through its paces at Yeovilton air base in South Somerset.

He explained: “The photograph was taken at the Yeovilton International Air Day in 2018. From a previous visit I knew the finale would be Marines abseiling out of the Merlins with plenty of explosions and movement plus one massive explosion at the end – awesome to watch and photograph so as I knew it was coming I was able to move forward and get a clear shot of the Merlin and capture the ‘moment’. 

“Helicopters are not easy to photograph, requiring on this occasion a telephoto lens and the camera set at a relatively slow shutter speed to capture both the blur movement of the rotor but also the need to keep the rest of the image sharp.”

The Merlin was built not far from the airfield.

First flown in 1987, it was developed by a joint venture between Westland Helicopters in Yeovil and Agusta in Italy in response to national requirements for a modern naval utility helicopter.

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Axminster Photography Group continues to meet fortnightly by Zoom on Tuesday evenings and has a full programme of activities until Tuesday, July 6 when, if the government roadmap goes to plan it should be able to resume meetings at its usual base at Cloakham Lawns.

The Axminster group is a small friendly club and currently has a few vacancies for new members with preferably some photographic experience. If the idea appeals and you are interested, please email the membership secretary at this address: pamelastirling@hotmail.co.uk

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