Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

I Am SO Outta Here!

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In the Field

I Am SO Outta Here! Barkley Sound, SW coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. 6 April 2019.

While I try to keep an open mind about what kind of wildlife subject matter I shoot (and the type of shot I'll use them in), I never really thought I'd ever use cormorants (in this case Brandt's Cormorants) as the main subject in an animalscape shot! But during our inaugural "Pacific Rim Explorer" photo tour in April of 2019 we were watching this massive rock being absolutely battered by BIG ocean swells and it became glaringly obvious that cormorants were just fine subjects to use to anchor the eye in an energetic animalscape shot!

Of course, with shots like this you have to capture a lot of shots to get one with the breaking/splashing water just right, and I was real lucky with this one in that JUST as the swell smacked the rock and exploded one cormorant (that was sitting lower than his buddies) appeared to decide that discretion was the better part of valor and decided to get while the getting was good!

This shot was captured with a Nikon D5 and the uber-expensive (but uber-good) Nikkor 180-400mm f4E zoom lens. Between the excellent image quality of the 180-400mm (throughout its entire focal range, including up to 560mm when the built-in TC is engaged) and its extremely "handy" focal range, it's hard NOT to love the 180-400 (once your wallet recovers from the damage done by the price of the 180-400!). In this shot I had to zoom "back" all the way to 180mm to get the whole scene in the shot (the version you're seeing here is the full frame shot, i.e., not a crop) and I was glad I had the focal length I needed was already "on" my camera - we were in an exposed Zodiac at the time and I didn't relish the idea of swapping out lenses just right then! ;-)

Here's a larger (2400 pixel) version of this very energetic animalscape:

I Am SO Outta Here: Download 2400 pixel image (JPEG: 1.46 MB)


1. This image was captured during our "Pacific Rim Explorer" photo tour in April 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

I Am SO Outta Here! Barkley Sound, SW coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. 6 April 2019.

Digital Capture; Compressed RAW (NEF) 14-bit format; ISO 1250.

Nikon D5 paired with Nikkor 180-400mm f4E zoom at 290mm. Hand-held. VR on and in Sport mode. 9-point Dynamic Area AF mode.

1/1600s @ f6.3; +0.67 stop compensation from "recommended" matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

I Am SO Outta Here! Barkley Sound, SW coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. 6 April 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 highlights. Selective local adjustments performed using Capture One Pro's layers and masking tools. In this case adjustments were made on 2 separate layers and included local/selective editing of (or adjustment of) shadows and clarity.

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.


I Am SO Outta Here! Barkley Sound, SW coast of Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. 6 April 2019.

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

The Brandt's Cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) is endemic to North America, where it occurs only in marine and estuarine environments. It breeds along the West Coast of North America, reaching Alaska in the north and Mexico in the south. In the main part of its range, from California to Washington, its life history and populations are tied to the rich upwelling associated with the California Current. In the nonbreeding season, when the effects of this current diminish, populations redistribute along the coast in concert with changing water and feeding conditions.

This species nests in colonies on the ground on rocky islets, choosing flat or sloping areas or cliffs with ledges. Nests are large and untidy, made of terrestrial plants or seaweed collected from the land or sea, or stolen from other nests. Courtship behaviors are typical of the genus Phalacrocorax, and emphasize the species' distinctive cobalt blue gular pouch.

Worldwide population estimate: 75,600 pairs. In British Columbia -in recent years, 5 active colonies with never more than 2 in use in a given year. First confirmed breeding record was of 110 nests, Sea-lion Rocks, Vancouver Island, in 1965.

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