Here is my Alcholics Anonymous moment: I’m a Cornishman and I was born in Redruth!
I spent my early childhood living on a farm at Awbridge, near Trysull in Staffordshire where our front garden was a lock on the Staffordshire & Worcestershire Canal, which may perhaps explain my passion for dragonflies! Here I am casting my eye over an early insect find in the palm of my hand, between the farm & our cottage circa 1966 with the canal in the background. Obviously I'd put the cardboard box lid down to attract Grass Snakes, and of course, if it was summer I'd be closer to the canal looking for dragons!
For thirty years of my life I lived along the Red River Valley at Brea, near Camborne, another hot bed of dragonfly activity, so from that you might be able to detect a pattern emerging!
In 1980 I bought my first SLR, a Praktica MTL5 and started to take photos of literally anything and everything, including dragons & damsels, and it was at this stage that I wanted to identify the species that I was photographing. To that end I bought a copy of the Worcestershire Nature Conservation Trust’s Information Leaflet No.3 Dragonflies by R.Kemp which didn’t have any plates or photographs but did include a reproduction of Cynthia Longfield’s 1937 key to British dragonflies. So I learnt my ID skills the hard way!
In 1983 I became one of the first members of the fledgling British Dragonfly Society, and in 1987 I became the county recorder for dragonflies. At this stage I was taking photographs as a record of what I’d seen, and in the early 90’s I traded up to a second hand Canon AV1 which was later joined by an AE1. One or other of them was frequently being repaired for water damage as a result of having taken an unexpected bath at various pools on the Lizard peninsula where I spent most of my waking hours at the time.
At the end of 2000 my family and I moved to the little village of Godolphin Cross, near Helston, a great place for walking with hills, woods & pools on the doorstep.
In the spring of 2006, after a long period of “if & aming” I finally decided I could justify buying a brand new digital camera, and on a limited budget went for the Canon 350D.
However it wasn’t until July 2007, when I visited an exhibition at Townshend by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust Photographic Group, that photography really “took off” as a serious interest for me.
I left the exhibition truly inspired by what I had seen and the fact that the 18 x 10” prints on display cost just 70p via the internet company DSCL! They looked fantastic and I quickly found that my own images benefited from the high quality standard of printing.
My family and I have fallen in love with the Iberian peninsula over the last 15 years or so and in 2008 stayed in the Sierra Grazalema with Clive & Sue of Natural Images. It was through the never ending enthusiasm of Clive that I was prompted to start this website in October 2008 as a vehicle for sharing some of my photographs and wildlife adventures with a wider audience.
During the wet summer of 2009 I spent as much time as I could travelling around the county photographing as many insects as possible for my first book on the Insects of Cornwall & the Isles of Scilly which was published in July 2010. Look out for unsigned copies, real rarities! For further details visit http://www.alisonhodgepublishers.co.uk/?page_id=767
In October 2009 I was fortunate in having the opportunity of joining respected wildlife photographer David Chapman for my first major exhibition at Geevor Tin Mine's Hard Rock Gallery entitled "Wildlife on the Edge." The exhibition is a celebration, through photographs, of the diverse wildlife that clings to the industrial landscape of this iconic mine perched on the cliff tops of West Penwith. The exhibition has been so popular that it eventually ran for a whole year until September 2010.
My second exhibition took place in August 2010, thanks again to the never ending enthusiasm of Clive Muir, at the Grazalema Visitor Centre in Andalucia. It ran until early October and featured many of the fantastic array of insects that the region has to offer, though some of the locals were not quite as enthusiastic about the Scorpions & Banded Centipedes!
In November 2010 I was shortlisted as a possible category winner in Outdoor Photography magazine's Outdoor Photographer of the Year (OPOTY) competition, with my male Red-veined Darter ultimately finishing amongst the "also rans" in the Small World (macro) category.
In June 2011 I was very fortunate to have David Chapman write an article for Cornwall Today about me, my book Insects of Cornwall & the Isles Scilly, and the afternoon we had at Chyverton Cornwall Wildlife Trust Nature Reserve in preparation for the feature. The article appeared in the July 2011 edition of the magazine and covered 6 pages.
In July 2011 I was delighted to have two of my photographs published in a national magazine for the first time. The double page spread appears in the Reader Gallery section of the August 2011 edition of Outdoor Photography (on sale 7th July), and features two macro shots, one of a Common Blue Butterfly taken at Windmill Farm, the other a female Violet Dropwing taken on the Rio Grande in Andalucia.
In October 2011 I was lucky enough to have another image shortlisted in OPOTY 2011, but ultimately failed to make the final cut.
During August 2012, with the help of a group of friends I formed the Red River Rescuers, a group of like minded individuals who have joined forces to try to restore some of the Red River Valley LNR sites, near Camborne, to their former glory by clearing much of the vegetation that threatens to engulf them. The demise of the Scarce Blue-tailed Damselfly - Ischnura pumilio along the length of the Red River Valley, declining from 9 sites/breeding colonies, to just a single surviving colony was one of the key motivators for me to get started with this very worthwhile activity, having previously always been involved with habitat management elsewhere. You can find the Red River Rescuers website here: http://redriverrescuers.weebly.com/
Our facebook page can be found here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/redriverrescuers/
In December 2014 at the AGM of the Red River Rescuers I was totally gobsmacked to hear that not only had I been nominated for the British Dragonfly Society's Cynthia Longfield Certificate by good friend Jo Poland, I was actually the winner of the award! Dragonflies have been such a massive part of my life since childhood, I cannot comprehend being without their influence on my world, so to have my small link with them recognised in this way is a real privilege. Thank you Jo & the Trustees of the BDS.
At the tail end of 2014 I entered the Outdoor Photographer of the Year 2014 and was amazed to have 4 images shortlisted as possible category winners in the Small World category and although none of them progressed any further it was very flattering to be in the mix with so many other fantastic shortlisted photographs.
I hope you find something of interest on these pages.
All photographs on this site were taken by Steve Jones unless otherwise credited & are the copyright of Steve Jones.
My current camera gear:
Tamron SP 10-24mm f3.5-4.5 Di
Tamron SP AF 90mm f2.8 Di Macro
Canon EF 100-400mm f4.5-5.6L IS USM
Manfrotto 190XPROB tripod with a Manfrotto 488RC2 ballhead
Manfrotto 676B monopod with a Manfrotto 234RC tilthead
Top quality Fuji Professional prints can be ordered from DSCL at: http://www.dscolourlabs.co.uk/index.cfm
During a previous life I worked for the Fire Brigade (1979 to 1987) and like a number of my cohorts of the time I occasionally played the part of Welephant at various primary & infant schools in Cornwall. Once ensconced inside it is fair to say that the suit was not blessed with the most pleasant of fragrances, in fact on more than one occasion it was unfavourably compared to a Turkish tram drivers jock strap! Character building!
Showing a Three-spined Stickleback to the next generation of young naturalist with two DSLR cameras stuffed up my coat to protect them from the joys of a Cornish summer, rain, rain & more rain! The home made vivarium is a handy way to photograph aquatic life on site, though I was hanging on to my somewhat frail bit of glass, while acting casual in the face of uninhibited enthusiasm.
Lethytep June 2012, photo taken by Jeremy Northcott.