Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

Proud of Her Prize

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In the Field

Proud of Her Prize. Northern Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada. 19 September 2018.

Watching ANY bear fishing is always great fun. But, when you're watching a rare white Spirit Bear fishing it becomes just that much more special! When I captured this shot it almost seemed like this female bear was proud of what she had just caught and wanted to show it off. In actual fact (as I learned after I captured the image) what she was REALLY doing was checking out a male black bear (i.e., a black colored one) further upstream.

I've commented often on this website about how the "single-digit" D's (like the D4, D5, etc.) are my favourite wildlife cameras (rather than the higher resolution bodies that have great dynamic range but poorer ISO performance). This shot is a good example of why…these amazing bears really like it in the DARK forest! This shot - just a paltry ISO 9000! ;-)

Here's a larger (2400 pixel) version of this happy Spirit Bear for your perusal:

Proud of Her Prize: Download 2400 pixel image (JPEG: 1.14 MB)


1. This image was captured during one of my "Into the Great Bear Rainforest" Exploratory Photo Adventures in the autumn of 2018. Each year I offer photo tours into several different parts of the Great Bear Rainforest as well trips to photograph marine mammals and oceanscapes in locations on the northern portion of Vancouver Island. And, in selected years, I also offer photo tours to locations to capture other highly sought-after subjects, such as Dall Sheep, Bald Eagles, and more. Details about these trips can be found on the Photo Tours page of this website.

2. 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!

3. 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

Proud of Her Prize. Northern Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada. 19 September 2018.

Digital Capture; Compressed RAW (NEF) 14-bit format; ISO 9000.

Nikon D5 paired with Nikkor 180-400mm f4E zoom at 400mm with built-in TC engaged (total focal length of 560mm). Hand-held. VR on and in Sport mode. 9-point Dynamic Area AF mode.

1/1250s @ f6.3 -1.0 stop compensation from "recommended" matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

Proud of Her Prize. Northern Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada. 19 September 2018.

RAW Conversion to 16-bit TIFF, including all global and selective adjustments, using Phase One's Capture One Pro 11.3. Global adjustments to this shot included modifications to both exposure and highlight retrieval. Selective local adjustments performed using Capture One Pro's layers and masking tools. In this case adjustments were made on 7 separate layers and included mostly tweaks to exposure, shadow recovery, 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.


Proud of Her Prize. Northern Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada. 19 September 2018.

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

Species Status in Canada**: Not currently listed as Threatened or Endangered.

The "Spirit" Bear is a rare genetically-based colour variant of the common Black Bear (Ursus americana). It has been estimated that less than 300 Spirit Bears exist today. Because the Black Bear is not considered under threat as a species, the Spirit Bear suffers from having the same conservation designation (it should be acknowledged that in British Columbia - the jurisdiction of greatest Spirit Bear abundance - hunting of these white-coated bears is not permitted). For reasons that are not fully understood, the Spirit Bear occurs with greater frequency in a relatively small geographic area within The Great Bear Rainforest of the central and northern coast of British Columbia. In this area 10 to 30% of the bears possess white coats. Many of the black-coloured Black Bears in this region carry the gene for white coats, so allowing hunting of ANY Black Bears in this region can reduce the frequency of the gene for white coats. Thus, to protect the Spirit Bear, it is necessary to prohibit the hunting of ALL Black Bears in this region. And, very unfortunately, the globally unique ecosystem that contains the Spirit Bear is under development pressure, especially from the forestry industry. If this unique environment is altered, we may lose the wonderful genetic anomaly known as the Spirit Bear forever.

*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