Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

Dusky @ Dawn

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In the Field

Dusky @ Dawn. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. April 10, 2022.

From mid-March through to June it's Dusky Grouse breeding season on our property in the East Kootenays of BC. This year we have at least 5 territorial males hooting on their turf in the hopes of attracting a willing female. Interestingly, all the breeding males but one are on the shy side and don't allow close approach (and thus I leave them alone and let them do their thing). The one photographed here is, for some reason, amazingly tolerant of me and merrily hoots away while I sit quietly nearby photographing him. Over the last 3 years or so the bird occupying this particular territory has been very tolerant of while I can't be SURE of the bird's identity, I do think it's likely I've been watching and photographing the same bird over the last 3 years! a wildlife photographer you have to go with what you've been given! ;-)

I captured this image with a Nikon Z 9 paired with the Nikkor Z 100-400 f4.5-5.6S zoom lens. As I've indicated in multiple places on this website, the Nikkor Z 100-400mm is a very good lens in all respects (image quality, AF performance, VR performance, etc.). One thing I have noticed many wildlife photographers almost ignoring is how well this lens performs in its "mid" focal ranges (many shooters seem to fixate on how it works at 400mm and ignore how solid it is throughout its focal range). This image was captured at 220mm and I have zero complaints at how it rendered. Based on my own needs and image preferences (and complementary lenses in my wildlife kit) I anticipate using this lens a LOT in the 100-350mm range while shooting animalscape-style shots.

I have a feeling that 2022 is going to be a great wildlife photography season!

Here's a larger version (4800 pixel) of this proud and bold hooter:

Dusky @ Dawn Download 4800 pixel image (JPEG: 5.9 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.

Behind the Camera

Dusky @ Dawn. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. April 10, 2022.

Compressed RAW (NEF) 14-bit format; ISO 1400.

Nikon Z 9 paired with Nikkor Z 100-400mm f4.5-5.6S. Hand-held. VR on in Sport mode. 3D-tracking AF area mode with subject recognition on (in Animal mode).

1/200s @ f5.6; -0.3 stop compensation from matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

Dusky @ Dawn. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. April 10, 2022.

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 22. Global adjustments on this image were limited to a highlight recovery adjustment and an exposure adjustment. Selective local adjustments performed using Capture One Pro's layers and masking tools. In this case selective adjustments were made on 5 separate layers and included one or more tweaks to brightness, clarity, whites, and shadows (recovery).

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


Dusky @ Dawn. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. April 10, 2022.

Species Status in Canada*: This species is not designated as at risk.

Until recently the Blue Grouse (Dendragapus obscurus) was considered a single species with at least two sub-species. However, mitochondrial DNA sequence data, combined with older behavioural and distributional data, has resulted in the decision to split the species into two species - Sooty Grouse (coastal), and Dusky Grouse (found in the interior).

Dusky and Sooty Grouse are endemic to mountainous regions of western North America and both have geographic ranges restricted to moderate to high altitude regions. Many populations undergo an altitudinal migration, spending winters in conifer forests at higher elevations and then descending to lower elevations and more open terrain to breed in the spring. During breeding the males perform a dramatic dance and produce repetitive low-frequency vocalizations (hoots) to attract females to their breeding territories.

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