As part of our ongoing series on the work of photographers featured in our BWPA exhibition, we met Ross Hoddinott who looks for beauty in the less obvious places.
Can you tell us the story behind your photo in this exhibition?
I love springtime and spend as much time as I can exploring the countryside close to my north Cornish home at this time of year looking for close-up subjects. The hedgerows and banks are full of new plant-life during April and May and uncurling ferns look fascinating and beautiful at high magnification. Hart’s-tongue ferns are particularly photogenic and when I noticed these two ferns creating a heart shape when aligned together I couldn’t resist shooting them.
'Hartstongue Heart' appears in the 'Botanical' category of this year's British Wildlife Photography Awards, Ross Hoddinott
How did you go about getting that shot?
I used a dedicated macro lens – optimised for close focus – to enable me to capture a frame-filling shot. I opted for a large aperture of f/4.8 to create a shallow zone of focus. A tripod helped me to carefully compose the image and fine-tune my focusing.
How long did you have to wait for this shot?
I probably spent around 30 minutes fine-tuning the image, experimenting with settings, and perfecting the composition. I had to carefully remove various bits of dead foliage and debris to ensure the fern’s background was clean and attractive. Background choice is always an important consideration.
Did you use any particular equipment or software?
My 200mm Nikkor macro lens is a great choice for this type of close-up and a tripod proved essential too. Otherwise, my set-up was relatively simple for this image.
'Wingtips' is the winner of the 'Close to Nature' category in this year's British Wildlife Photography Awards., Ross Hoddinott
What are your favourite scenes, species, or motivations behind your photographs?
I specialise in landscape and close-up photography, with a real passion for insects and wild flowers. Dragonflies, damselflies, and butterflies are among my favourite close-up subjects. Highlighting the beauty and form of less obvious or appealing subjects is always a motivation for me.
What are the difficulties of wildlife and nature photography that you face?
The unpredictability of nature and the weather are the most obvious challenges. With the great popularity and accessibility of photography today it is also getting increasingly difficult to produce truly original or innovative work.
What would you like people to think about when they see your work?
I’d like to help heighten their appreciation and passion for the landscape, nature, and the great outdoors. Hopefully this – in turn – will encourage a connection with nature and conservation.
How long have you been a photographer and how did you get started?
I’ve been a professional landscape and natural history photographer since my late teens – 20 years now. I began shooting wildlife at the age of 11 and never considered anything else as a profession. I’m fortunate to make my living from something I find so fulfilling and rewarding.
What would you advise someone wanting to start taking photos of wildlife or nature in their local environment?
Get to know your subject intimately – for example, its habitat, diet, and behaviour. Spend time observing and enjoying your subject – a good understanding and passion for your subject is essential if you wish to capture its character or beauty.
What projects are you working on now or have coming up?
I’ve just finished writing two new books – ‘Masters of Landscape Photography’, published by Ammonite Press and on sale now, and also “Landscape Photography – From Dawn to Dusk’ which is due to be published next Spring – again by Ammonite. It’s been a hectic year – I’m hoping to have more time behind a camera in 2018.