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Nikon Nation Ross Hoddinott Interview

Top wildlife and landscape photographer Ross has recently become a Nikon Ambassador. We find out more.

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Nikon Nation Ross Hoddinott Interview: Ross Hoddinott

Ross Hoddinott has been interested in wildlife since he can remember, and only ever uses Nikon gear to create his award winning photography. We find out more here.

You take stunning wildlife photography – why are you so passionate about wildlife?
You’d have to blame my parents! They are the type of people that are always planting trees, making ponds and putting up nestboxes and feeders. They encouraged me from an early age to take an active interest in the wildlife around me. I was fortunate to grow up on an old farm in north Cornwall, surrounded by woodland and countryside to explore. As a kid, I was always peering into ponds and looking for bugs – very much like my kids do now! Once I got hooked on photography – aged 9 or 10 – I instinctively combined the two passions.

Why did you choose Nikon gear?
I started off using a basic Zenit 11 – anyone remember those? Aged 12, I won a Minolta Dynax in BBC Countryfile’s inaugural photo competition, which I then used until my mid teens. However, I always hankered after a Nikon – I guess it is just a name you instantly associate with quality cameras and optics. Back then it was a Nikon F4 that I dreamt of owning, but I could never afford one at that age. However, I began selling my photographs at an early age and saved up for a F801s – my first Nikon. I loved it. Nearly 20 years on, I’ve used nothing but Nikon.  
Nikon Nation Ross Hoddinott Interview: Common Blue Damselfly
© Ross Hoddinott

What makes Nikon gear ideal for you?
I could list a number of reasons, but I guess the key things are their excellent handling and build quality – they are simply lovely cameras to use. The button layout of Nikon DSLRs is very logical. They are intuitive to use, with all the essential settings being quick and easy to locate and adjust. Obviously, when photographing wildlife – when opportunities are often fleeting – it is important to be able to adjust settings with minimum thought or effort.

My current cameras, the D800 and D800E, are just outstanding. Image quality is amazing thanks to their huge resolution. This allows me to capture amazing subject detail. The high pixel count is great for macro, affording me the luxury to selectively crop if required, while still maintaining a large file size. This is great in situations when I have to shoot from further away than I would like, due to the risk of disturbing my subject. Cameras aside, Nikon’s optics are simply superb. They are renowned for their outstanding sharpness, which is another reason why Nikon gear is right for my photography.          

Can you tell us a bit about your kit?
I’m often asked why I don’t use a Nikon D4. However, most of my subjects are static – landscapes and close-ups – so the higher pixel count of the D800 proved more appealing to me than the speed of the D4. I currently have a D800 and D800E in my camera bag. I do find the D800E is fractionally sharper (due to the lack of anti-aliasing filter), particularly at larger apertures. However, in reality, the difference between the two isn’t that significant in my opinion – the standard D800 is also outstandingly sharp.

For scenic photography, I enjoy shooting ultra wide, so I mostly use the AF-S Nikkor 16-35mm f/4G ED VR, along with the AF-S Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8G ED. For close-ups, I favour using a tele-macro, as it provides a larger working distance from the subject and the narrower angle of view helps keep background detail nicely diffused. Therefore, the AF Micro Nikkor 200mm f/4D IF-ED is my favourite lens. It’s a lens best used on a tripod, though, so I also have a AF-S Micro 105mm f/2.8G IF-ED for handheld work – not only is it a lighter, more compact lens, but its Vibration Reduction is ideal for handheld shooting. I also have the AF-S Nikkor 70-200mm f/2.8G ED VR II, which is just a lovely lens for all types of subjects. I’ve recently purchased the Nikon R1C1 wireless close-up speedlight system as one of my upcoming projects is to master macro flash – currently, I almost always rely on natural light, which can be limiting.

Nikon Nation Ross Hoddinott Interview: Insect01
© Ross Hoddinott

How did you become a Nikon ambassador?
I was absolutely thrilled to be asked – it was very unexpected. There are so many great nature photographers in the UK that are also Nikon users that I’m very flattered that they decided to ask me. I guess I’m now a long, established Nikon user and through my photography books and magazine work I’ve been quite evangelical about the benefits of the using the Nikon system. It is great to now have an official relationship with a brand I’ve enjoyed using for so long.    

Do you have any tips for budding wildlife and landscape photographers?
Be passionate about your subject. Wildlife isn’t just like any other photography genre. You need to have a genuine passion, understanding and appreciation for your subject in order to capture really intimate or beautiful natural history images. Without this, a photographer will never have the patience and dedication required to capture truly outstanding nature images.

For more information on Ross and his stunning photography, take a look at his website.

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