Local photographer and wildlife enthusiast Ewan Jones shares his love of all creatures great and small, right on our doorstep
Feathered, furry, scaly or smooth, I love animals of all shapes and sizes. As a small boy, my bookshelf was full of monumental wildlife encyclopedias.
Growing up in Dorchester on Thames and moving to Clifton Hampden at the age of eleven, I was blessed with seeing countless creatures that many from my generation have not had the privilege of.
I distinctly remember one Sunday morning, my parents excitedly whispering across the kitchen to alert me to the spectacle in the garden. There, in all its splendour, was a tiny weasel running back and forth to the garden shed, climbing up the walls, crawling underneath it, at a pace that even made a child tired. I think I fell in love.
As a young adult, I shared my nature passion with a special friend. We’d go on walks together in the hope of seeing mustelids, especially weasels or stoats… Any nature-lover could have told you I was practically hoping to win the lottery. My friend had a camera, a pretty good Canon with a decent lens. While I was looking on, in the hope of a miracle, they’d stop at every tree, attempting a snap of any bird or butterfly that crossed our trail.
At first I was rather unimpressed by their slowing of my searches, but when I saw their results when we got home, my preferences quickly began to change. It was no longer all about the mustelids, it was about the joy and the beauty of all the creatures, and capturing them in a moment of perfection. It was time I got myself a camera.
Many pass-me-downs and purchases later, I am a well-prepared twitcher. I’ll travel far and wide to get a chance of adding new bird species to my collection. I’m lucky to have a Spanish mother so I can travel to the country, which is simply jam-packed with African migrant species.
Yes, I have a life list. Yes, I have my favourites. But to me, wildlife photography is about capturing the perfect posture, in perfect colour, in exquisite detail. Only then, is that beautiful creature yours.
Photography is subjective; everybody has a different view on what makes a beautiful photo. If you are a fan of colourful lighting, get yourself up at the crack of dawn for the early-morning sunlight. If you’re a fan of scientific accuracy and crisp detail, save up your pennies and splash out on quality gear. To locate rare species, especially local birds, I highly recommend www.oxonbirding.blogspot.co.uk. My humble advice to anyone wishing to take wonderful photos of nature is to start simple, put the hours in, explore your passion. Just get out there and take photos of everything that moves…. Oh, and a little photography course won’t go amiss, either.