Nikolai Zinoviev
Leaf Aptus-II 10

"The Leaf Aptus-II 10’s wide 9,334 pixel sensor is perfect for capturing the wide vistas in my line of work. The dynamic range and the quality of the files is second to none and the detail is simply outstanding for making large size prints with no compromises."

Nikolai Zinoviev

Born in 1973 in the Southwestern Russian city of Rostov-on-Don, Nikolai came of age reading Korney Chukovsky’s poems about the African savanna and its inhabitants. “I dreamt a lot about taking a long trip there to experience the savanna’s wild beauty.”

Nikolai always had an interest in biology and zoology, but it was during the exciting times of Perestroika that Nikolai first got into photography. “This was the time when I started taking my first pictures using my Dad’s Soviet made Zenith-E. It was a top-notch camera, although too big for my small hands. My parents saw my interest in photography and invested in a small rangefinder camera – Lomo LCA with a built-in 32mm Minitar fixed focal length lens. I was so happy to have my first camera!”

During his first visit to Southeast Africa, Nikolai figured that he could combine all of his childhood passions into a career. “I brought all my photographic equipment and there was a moment when I realized what was missing in my life – and that was the ability to unite my interest in flora and fauna from my schooldays with my passion for photography.”

After 4 years shooting with a 35mm DSLR, Nikolai realized medium format’s potential. “I was looking for the ability to render fine detail yet still produce large size prints that would blow my customers’ minds away. So about a year ago I pulled the trigger and bought a 645DF camera body with a Leaf Aptus-II 10 back along with the finest fixed length optics available. I chose the Leaf Aptus-II 10 because of its wide 9,334 pixel sensor - perfect for capturing wide vistas in my line of work. I also found the dynamic range and the quality of the files to be second to none and the detail simply outstanding for making large size prints with no compromises.”

Nikolai uses only the best workflow software and optics in his work. “I use Capture One Pro to download files and do global .mos files editing. Then I convert files into .tif and I use Photoshop CS5 for local adjustments and Autopano Giga to make large panoramas from .tif files. My favorite lens is the Mamiya APO 300mm f4.5 which produces amazingly sharp pictures with excellent bokeh. My second favorite is Schneider-Kreuznach 80 mm LS f2.8 lens for environmental portraits. I am very much impressed with a MF 120 F4 Macro lens that I often use to capture flora in my macro work.”

The powerful images displayed in this article are from Kamchatka, where Nikolai was commissioned by the management of the local National Park to shoot high resolution photographs of the park’s flora and fauna. “I lived for 40 days out in the wild photographing Kamchatka’s nature and wildlife. One of the most beautiful places I saw on this trip was Kurile Lake. It is a 77 square km fresh water lake located in a volcano caldera and surrounded by incredibly beautiful volcanoes which have snow even during the hot summer months.”

“The lake has a large population of brown bears attracted to its shores by each year’s silver salmon run which originates in the Sea of Okhotsk and ends up in the lake and its rivers. A week or so after showing myself to the bears I started reducing the distance and using my 645DF more and more. As the bears realized I posed no threat to them they felt comfortable letting me photograph them even when using 28mm and 45mm lenses. Having a high resolution Leaf back allowed me to meet the client’s requirements, which were to produce files allowing for extra-large size prints to be used in their museum and offices.”

Nikolai can give testament to the difficulties of wildlife shooting. “Taking a good wildlife shot takes a lot of study and prep work; you have to know the species you are photographing – its territory, its behavior and its body language. Not knowing these things can come at a cost of life - and the majority of our models are so shy of the photographer that they run or fly away once they notice us!”

About Nikolai Zinoviev
Nikolai Zinoviev is a freelance wildlife photographer from Moscow, Russia who photographs for both companies and individuals who like to see wild nature and its inhabitants in their daily living and work environments.

Most of us live in places completely altered by civilization, territories of hundreds of square miles where there’s no place left for nature as it existed thousands years ago and for wild species, that once populated these vast territories. Nikolai’s mission is to bring wildlife into people’s homes and workplaces through his photographs, to make them feel the importance of preserving of what is left of it on Earth.

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