Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

Brown From Black

Availability: Undetermined - Enquiries?

Previous Gallery Next Gallery

In the Field

Brown From Black. Great Bear Rainforest, BC, Canada. August 18, 2022.

This image brings back just a great memory! I captured this young brown bear as it emerged from some very black shadows along a river channel. The bear, which I think is in its 4th summer, had the yin-yang, fear-curiosity thing going on in a major way! The obvious curiosity the bear had about humans (especially the dude speaking softly to it) was definitely in conflict with any fear it had of us. Whether that fear is learned or innate is an open question...

We currently have an interesting "dynamic" going on with brown bears (AKA grizzlies) in the Great Bear Rainforest - back in 2017 the hunting of grizzlies was banned throughout BC...and it appears this might be having a growing impact on brown bear behavior. This bear was likely born after the ban on brown bear hunting, and it's quite possible its mother (its life "tutor") was becoming increasingly tolerant of humans while this young bear was developing. In turn, this could have impacted on the young bear's comfort with humans. Over the coming years it will be interesting to see if the ban on hunting of them results in marked changes in how they relate to humans...and with fear of humans being replaced by tolerance and acceptance of humans.

This image was captured using the Z 400mm f2.8S mounted on my Z 9. The lens's TC was not engaged and this shot is pretty much full frame. Which means the bear was quite close to me when I shot this image. While I love how images shot with the Z 400mm f2.8S look when shot wide open, in this particular case I had pretty much no choice but to stop down to increase the DoF of the image so that all the bear's critical facial bits (eyes, nose pad, ears) were in sharp focus. The only real take home lesson here is that to successfully capture compelling wildlife images you really have to stay "in the moment" and keep things like " my chosen aperture likely to produce the effect I want on this shot?" top of mind. With wildlife photography you can't ever "quit" thinking! ;-)

Here's a larger version (4800 pixel) of this curious-but-cautious" young brown bear:

Brown From Black: Download 4800 pixel image (JPEG: 3.8 MB)


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 "Summer in the Southern Great Bear Rainforest" instructional photo tour in the summer 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

Brown From Black. Great Bear Rainforest, BC, Canada. August 18, 2022.

Lossless compressed RAW (NEF) format; ISO 80.

Nikon Z 9 paired with Nikkor Z 400mm f2.8 TC VR S. Hand-held from floating Zodiac. VR on in Sport mode. Single-point AF area mode.

1/400s @ f7.1; -2.0 stop compensation from matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

Brown From Black. Great Bear Rainforest, BC, Canada. August 18, 2022.

RAW Conversion to 16-bit TIFF file (and JPEG files for web use), including all global and selective adjustments, 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 6 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.


Brown From Black. Great Bear Rainforest, BC, Canada. August 18, 2022.

Species Status in Canada*: Special Concern (May 2002).

While Grizzly Bears (Ursus arctos) are not technically listed as "Endangered" in Canada, they have been extirpated from most of their historical range. Grizzly Bears are far more sensitive to intrusion/disturbance in their habitat than are Black Bears and are being increasingly forced into marginal habitat by human encroachment. The Great Bear Rainforest along the central and northern coast of British Columbia is one of the last strongholds of the Grizzly Bear in Canada, and even this population is coming under increasing pressure.

On December 18, 2017 the government of British Columbia banned grizzly hunting across the entire province. This major conservation victory came after decades of tireless work by many dedicated conservationists and ecologists and, most importantly, it reflects the opinion of the vast majority of British Columbians. And, it means that AT LEAST while the current government remains in power grizzlies are finally "safe" in British Columbia.

Now that we've at least temporarily won the battle to save grizzlies in BC, it's time to re-focus our efforts toward protecting ALL of BC's carnivores, including Gray Wolves, Black Bears, Cougars, Wolverines, and more! Simply put, there are no ecological, economic, or ethical arguments supporting the trophy hunting of carnivores.

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