Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

 
The Cry

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In the Field

The Cry. Queen Charlotte Strait, BC, Canada. October 18, 2022.

Even though Bald Eagles are no longer considered threatened or endangered in North America and have even become quite commonplace in some regions, it still feels special to see them or photograph them - especially when you see them in a great setting and/or with great light on them! We encountered this particular eagle during my October "Autumn in the Queen Charlotte Strait" photo tour in 2022. At the time the eagle was very worked up about something and cried out repeatedly from its picturesque perch. Some crows and other eagle in the vicinity were similarly excited, but for the life of us we couldn't figure out what was riling them all up (it certainly wasn't us...they completely ignored our presence).

I captured this image with what I already think of as my "trusty" Z 400mm f2.8S lens with its built-in TC-engaged - so at 560mm. The more I shoot this lens with its TC-engaged (and in more and more different situations) the happier I am with it. But what I can't say quite yet is how it compares in image quality to the recently announced (at the time of this writing) Z 600mm f4 TC VR S, i.e., how the 560mm images shot with the Z 400mm f2.8S with its internal TC engaged compare to the images of the Z 600mm f4S when it is shot "native" (sans TC). I do hope to test the Z 600mm f4S, so hopefully I will know the answer before too much longer. Based on many years of gear testing and a full field season of shooting the Z 400mm f2.8S (both with and without its TC engaged) my own expectation is that the images of the Z 600mm f4S will be slightly better, but not by a lot. And by "slightly better" I mean very slightly sharper and possibly with a little smoother and "creamier" bokeh. How much sharper? My best guess is that you'd hardly see it on a high density display (like a retina) and any sharpness difference would be within the range that can be fully negated by careful sharpening in post-processing. But keep in mind that this is purely speculation and I won't know for sure until I get a chance to test the Z 600mm f4S. Looking forward to it!

Here's a larger version (4800 pixel) of this aggravated eagle:

The Cry: Download 4800 pixel image (JPEG: 4.5 MB)

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

1. These images - in all resolutions - are protected by copyright. I'm fine with personal uses of them (including use as desktop backgrounds or screensavers on your own computer), but unauthorized commercial use of the image is prohibited by law. Thanks in advance for respecting my copyright!

2. Like all photographs on this website, these images were captured following the strict ethical guidelines described in The Wildlife FIRST! Principles of Photographer Conduct. I encourage all wildlife photographers to always put the welfare of their subjects above the value of their photographs.

3. This image was captured during my "Autumn in the Queen Charlotte Strait" photo tour in October of 2022. Each year I offer trips into two different parts of the Great Bear Rainforest as well as one to photograph aquatic mammals and oceanscapes on the northern and west coasts of Vancouver Island. Details about these trips can be found on the Photo Tours page of this website.

Behind the Camera

The Cry. Queen Charlotte Strait, BC, Canada. October 18, 2022.

Lossless compressed RAW (NEF) format; ISO 560.

Nikon Z 9 paired with Nikkor Z 400mm f2.8 TC VR S @ 560mm (built-in TC engaged). Hand-held from floating Zodiac. VR on in Sport mode. 3D-tracking AF area mode with subject detection on (in Animal mode).

1/1000s @ f5; -1.3 stop compensation from matrix-metered exposure setting (to ensure no critical highlights on the white head were over-exposed beyond retrieval).

At the Computer

The Cry. Queen Charlotte Strait, BC, Canada. October 18, 2022.

Initial noise reduction and sharpening on .nef (raw) file using the DeepPRIME XD algorithm of DXO PhotoLab 6 Elite.

Subsequent adjustments to the adjusted linear DNG file (exported from PhotoLab 6) and conversion to 16-bit TIFF file (and JPEG files for web use) - including all global and selective adjustments - made using Phase One's Capture One Pro 22. There were no global adjustments made to this image. Selective local adjustments performed using Capture One Pro's layers and masking tools. In this case selective adjustments were made on 9 separate layers and all were under the general umbrella of "exposure balancing", with one or more tweaks to brightness (mid-tone exposure), blacks, clarity (mid-tone contrast), and highlights.

Photoshop modifications were limited to the insertion of the watermark and/or text.

Conservation

The Cry. Queen Charlotte Strait, BC, Canada. October 18, 2022.

Species Status in Canada*: This species is not designated as at risk. The Bald Eagle was listed as "Endangered" in the contiguous US states from 1967 to 1995. In 1995 it was downlisted to "Threatened". On June 28, 2007 Bald Eagles were removed from the list of endangered and threatened species - a true American conservation success story.

The Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is a very large bird of prey with broad wings. Adults possess characteristic white ("bald") heads. It takes Bald Eagles a full five years to attain their characteristic adult plumage (including their nearly pure white head and tail). In the years prior to the development of their adult plumage they are easy to confuse with Golden Eagles. Being very broad-winged Bald Eagles are able to use an energy-efficient flapping-soaring style of flight. While many people like to think of the Bald Eagle as a fierce hunter, in reality they hunt only as a last resort. More commonly they scavenge for their prey. Additionally, they often klepto-parasitize other weaker species such as Osprey, commonly stealing the other species hard-earned prey items. The Bald Eagle is, of course, the national emblem of the United States (Benjamin Franklin argued against this - his preference was for the Wild Turkey).

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