Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

Headwaters - Kootenay River

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In the Field

Headwaters - Kootenay River. Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, Canada. 12 October 2018.

I captured this calming mountain stream scene using my Z7 mirrorless camera with the Z-mount 24-70mm f4s "kit" lens. While some may find this image pleasing, it's really not that unique or remarkable. BUT...something about how it was captured is absolutely remarkable (and downright mind-boggling). The blurry water here is - of course - a function of a slow shutter speed. In this case one quarter of a second (0.25s). The remarkable part - it was hand-held! Like totally hand-held - I was standing upright and shooting slightly down and I was wedged up against...NOTHING.

Did I have to shoot 100 "repetitions" to get a single sharp shot? Nope. I shot 10 of these and 7 of them had rocks this sharp. I just happened to like the water blur "pattern" the best in this one. I can honestly say I have never obtained a hand-held shot at THIS low of a shutter speed on any other wide angle lens (stabilized or not) - the slowest shutter speed I can predictably get a sharp shot on with my "other" 24-70's is about 1/25s.

I have two other f-mount 24-70mm lenses, both with image stabilization. The first is the Nikkor 24-70mm f2.8E VR and the second is the Sigma 24-70mm f2.8 OS Art. I personally favor the f-mount Sigma 24-70 over the Nikkor, partly because it's much smaller and partly because I've found it to have slightly sharper edges (as tested on the Nikon D850).

Have I systematically tested the new Z-mount 24-70mm f4s against the Sigma and Nikkor 24-70mm's. Yep. And I found that they don't differ much in central region sharpness - all are great. And, as mentioned above, of the two f-mount lenses the Sigma has slightly sharper edges at most apertures (and focal lengths). The z-mount 24-70mm f4s? Sharper on the edges (at ALL apertures and focal lengths) than BOTH of the f-mount 24-70mm f2.8's!

Not too shabby for a kit lens! ;-)

Here's a larger (2400 pixel) version of this SLOW SHUTTER SPEED shot for those wishing to do a little pixel-peeping:

Headwaters - Kootenay River: Download 2400 pixel image (JPEG: 1.3 MB)


1. This image - in all resolutions - is 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 wildlife photographs on this website, this image was 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.

Behind the Camera

Headwaters - Kootenay River. Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, Canada. 12 October 2018.

Digital Capture; Compressed RAW (NEF) 14-bit format; ISO 64.

Nikon Z7 mirrorless body paired with Nikkor Z-mount 24-70mm f4s @ 32mm. VR on and in Normal mode. Z7 AF system set to AF-S with Pinpoint area mode selected (for full contrast detect AF).

1/4s @ f11; -0.33 stop compensation from "recommended" matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

Headwaters - Kootenay River. Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, Canada. 12 October 2018.

RAW Conversion to 16-bit TIFF, including all global and selective adjustments, using Phase One's Capture One Pro 11.3 (from DNG file derived from Z7 NEF via Lightroom Classic CC). Global adjustments to this shot included modifications to both shadow and highlight retrieval. Selective local adjustments performed using Capture One Pro's layers and masking tools. In this case adjustments were made on 2 separate layers and included local/selective editing of sharpening and colour saturation.

Photoshop adjustments were limited to image re-sizing, conversion of Prophoto RGB colour gamut (to sRGB), final sharpening for online display, and insertion of watermark.


Headwaters - Kootenay River. Kootenay National Park, British Columbia, Canada. 12 October 2018.

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

Species Status in Canada*: N/A