Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

 
The Vantage Point

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In the Field

The Vantage Point. Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, Canada. 10 July 2019.

If you ever get lucky enough to travel to Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve on the remote Haida Gwaii Archipelago on BC's west coast one of the first things you'll notice is just how darned many Bald Eagles are there. In fact, the distance between Bald Eagle nests in Gwaii Haanas is the shortest found anywhere in the world - which means they have the highest breeding density on the planet!

I love the challenge of shooting interesting animalscapes, and Bald Eagles are definitely among my favourite animalscape subjects. One of the reasons is that as a visual predator (and scavenger) they often perch in places that have a great view, which means they often choose to sit in exposed areas. And if that exposed area happens to be in a visual striking setting...well...there you go...instant animalscape opportunity! On this shot I loved the overall setting, with a bull kelp forest in the foreground leading into the great rock the eagle is perched on, right through to the moody background with wisps of fog intermingling with the massive conifers. Oh yeah, and there IS an eagle in the scene! ;-)

So...how small can you go with subject of an animalscape and still have the image "work"? It depends to a large extent on how you're using or presenting the image. If you're using the image as a large print and the image itself is well composed you can get away with a really small subject. In this shot the subject is occupying about .05% (that's 5/100ths of a single percentage point) of the area of the image. However, if you're using the image as a small shot on a website (or Instagram or other social media) the image isn't likely to work too well. So showing this image on my website probably isn't the best way to use this shot! I will be printing this one up at a later date and I look forward to hanging it on my wall (the image is a full-frame Z7 shot, so it can be printed BIG!).

One final comment about this shot: This image is, in a nutshell, the exact reason I bought a Z7: for high resolution animalscape and landscape shots. Of course, I could get the resolution out of a D850 DSLR (and I already owned a D850 when I purchased my Z7). BUT...given the position of the subject in this shot, the only way you could get this shot with a D850 would be to focus on the subject and then re-compose (the subject is outside the array of focus points on a D850). Of course, "focus-and-recompose" can work effectively, but in this case I was in a moving/drifting Zodiac boat and in situations where you are moving toward or away from your subject the "focus and recompose" approach can really be hit or miss.

Here's a considerably larger (4800 pixel) version of this moody, misty scene for your perusal:

The Vantage Point: Download 4800 pixel image (JPEG: 6.2 MB)

ADDITIONAL NOTES:

1. This image was captured during our "Gwaii Haanas Explorer" photo tour in July of 2019. Each year we 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

The Vantage Point. Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, Canada. 10 July 2019.

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

Nikon Z7 paired with Nikkor 70-200mm f2.8E zoom at 70mm. Hand-held from floating Zodiac. VR on and in Sport mode. Single Point Area AF mode.

1/125s @ f5.6; +0.33 stop compensation from "recommended" matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

The Vantage Point. Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, Canada. 10 July 2019.

RAW Conversion to 16-bit PSD file (and JPEG files for web use), including all global and selective adjustments, using Phase One's Capture One Pro 12. Global adjustments to this shot included minor modifications to shadow and highlight detail and to structure (hey...it's a Capture One Pro thing!). Selective local adjustments performed using Capture One Pro's layers and masking tools. In this case adjustments were made on 9 separate layers and included local/selective editing of (or adjustment of) clarity, colour balance, shadow detail, tone curves, and more!

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

Conservation

The Vantage Point. Gwaii Haanas National Park Reserve, Haida Gwaii, British Columbia, Canada. 10 July 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