Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

Side-lit Sentry!

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In the Field

Side-lit Sentry! Southern Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada. 8 May 2019.

If you based a place-name on the probability of encountering a specific species of wildlife, it could be argued that the Great Bear Rainforest should really have been called "The Great Eagle Rainforest". It IS possible (thought not likely) to travel through the Great Bear and NOT see a bear (especially those rare and elusive Spirit Bears), but you'd have to travel through the Great Bear with a blindfold on to NOT see a Bald Eagle!

I captured this side-lit adult Bald Eagle in a quiet bay during our 2019 "Spring in the Southern Great Bear" photo tour. While the eagle was checking us out at the time I snapped this shot, most of its attention was actually on a raft of Barrow's Goldeneye ducks that were floating and feeding on the water surface behind us. I'm a big fan of side-lighting and in this case I loved how it added drama (and contrast) to the eagle (and how it illuminated the dead snag it was perched on).

Of course, we were kinda hoping that the eagle would gracefully descend from its perch and go after the goldeneyes (and give us some great actions shots), but in this such luck. Ah well...there’s always next year! ;-)

Here's a larger (2400 pixel) version of this iconic bird:

Side-lit Sentry: Download 2400 pixel image (JPEG: 1.12 MB)


1. This image was captured during our "Spring in the Southern Great Bear" photo tour in May of 2019. 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 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

Side-lit Sentry! Southern Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada. 8 May 2019.

Digital Capture; Compressed RAW (NEF) 14-bit format; ISO 360.

Nikon D500 paired with Nikkor 500mm f5.6E PF super-telephoto lens (for an EFL of 750mm). Hand-held from floating Zodiac. VR on and in Sport mode. Single Point AF mode.

1/800s @ f5.6; -1.67 stop compensation from "recommended" matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

Side-lit Sentry! Southern Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada. 8 May 2019.

RAW Conversion to 16-bit TIFF, including all global and selective adjustments, using Phase One's Capture One Pro 12. Global adjustments to this shot included modifications to exposure and highlight (retrieval). Selective local adjustments performed using Capture One Pro's layers and masking tools. In this case adjustments were made on 6 separate layers and included local/selective editing of (or adjustment of) highlights, sharpening, exposure (i.e., exposure balancing), shadow retrieval, curves (selective contrast adjustment), and 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.


Side-lit Sentry! Southern Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada. 8 May 2019.

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