Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

Herring Gull and Autumn Colours

Availability: RM Stock (??)

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In the Field

Herring Gull and Autumn Colours. Bolin Bay, BC, Canada. October 7, 2007.

Shooting crisp and sharp images of birds in flight requires high shutter speeds, fast-focusing lenses, and both skill and luck. There are photographers (who are MUCH better at it than I am) who specialize in flight shots and seem to get almost every image tack sharp. My success rate isn't quite so high - thankfully I'm shooting digitally and not paying film costs for every click of the shutter! I was attracted to this scene not only by the gulls, but also by the atypical background - in this case produced by out-of-focus bushes in their finest fall colours.

I'm often asked how fast a shutter speed is needed to freeze birds in flight. If my goal is to produce a sharp, crisp image (as opposed an image featuring the blur of motion), I try to shoot at 1/1000s second or faster. Much slower than this and portions of the bird will tend to be blurrred (which isn't necessarily bad - but its a different type of image).

Behind the Camera

Herring Gull and Autumn Colours. Bolin Bay, BC, Canada. October 7, 2007.

Digital Capture; Uncompressed RAW (NEF) format; ISO 250.

Nikon D2Xs with Nikon 200mm f/2G ED-IF AF-S VR lens (300 mm equivalent with digital conversion factor) - handheld. VR turned to "On" and in "Normal" mode. AquaTech SportShield (rain cover) used to protect camera and lens.

1/1500s @ f2.2; -2.0 stop compensation from matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

Herring Gull and Autumn Colours. Bolin Bay, BC, Canada. October 7, 2007.

RAW Conversion to 16 bit TIFF, including first-pass sharpening and exposure compensation using Phase One's C1 Pro. Multiple RAW conversions (2 at different exposure settings) in this case to balance shadow and highlight detail (see below).

Further digital correction on 16-bit TIFF file using Adobe's Photoshop CS3. Photoshop adjustments included compositing and masking of two exposure vesions (primarily to brighten shadow detail on underside of gull's wings), selective saturation enhancement and selective sharpening for web output.


Herring Gull and Autumn Colours. Bolin Bay, BC, Canada. October 7, 2007.

Species Status in Canada*: This species is not designated as at risk.

Ten percent of the revenue generated by this image will be donated to Raincoast.

The Herring Gull (Larus argentatus) has a circumboreal breeding range that includes much of Europe, Asia, and the Atlantic and northern coasts of North America. The Herring Gull was nearly extirpated by eggers and plumage hunters in North America back in the nineteenth century, but has now rebounded and current North American populations may have exceeded historical numbers.

This image was captured along a portion of the coast of British Columbia that is known as the Great Bear Rainforest. This globally unique habitat is under threat of development, particularly from logging. The Raincoast Conservation Society (and Foundation) is an effective and efficient organization that has been fighting for protection of this unique habitat. If you are looking for a meaningful way to contribute to the conservation of this amazing ecosystem, Raincoast will provide maximal "bang" for your conservation dollars.

*as determined by COSEWIC: The Committee on the Status of Endangered Wildlife in Canada