Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

Pausing to Reflect

Availability: Undetermined - Enquiries?

Previous Gallery Next Gallery

In the Field

Pausing to Reflect. Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada. September 25, 2023.

Well...I suppose it was inevitable. Even though photographs have never been 100% accurate reflections of reality (and increasingly less so as more and more folks become competent with Photoshop), Adobe has now driven the spike through the heart of the idea of a photograph being even roughly associated with a real-world scene. Now, with the use of Photoshop's new Generative Fill (and to a lesser degree Generative Expand) virtually any visual content can be added into a photograph. And, of course, greater expanses of image content than ever before can be removed or changed in a scene - and they can all be done very realistically and very easily. Yes, Photoshop gurus have been able to do this for quite some time, but now virtually anyone who can use the lasso tool can do it...which means ANYONE can do it. Sad. 😢

OK...about this image - it ISN'T real! Meaning, it is NOT a reflection of what I saw in the field (and that's what the little icon in the right-hand corner is meant to signify). What's being changed and heavily modified is the reflection of the bears. Yes, there WAS a reflection of the mother and cub in the water in front of the bears. But, it was very diffuse. So, in an effort to see what Generative Fill could do I "asked" Photoshop to add an "accurate reflection". None were fully realistic (I say "none" because Generative Fill gives you 3 options to choose between), and in the image you're looking at here I reduced the opacity of the layer containing generated reflection down to 45% (so that the ripples and bubbles of the water - the original content - "bled" through to increase the realism of the look of the generated reflection).'s not my place or style to tell anyone else what they can do with their own photos. However, what I can do is assure viewers of this website that if I EVER use AI tools to significantly alter the content of my images displayed on this website (and by this I mean add ANYTHING to the image or remove anything more than a distracting background branch or distracting point source of light!) I will add the ugly "NOT A REAL PHOTO" icon to the image (like the one associated in the lower right corner of this image) and explain what I have done to the image. But I doubt you'll see the icon a lot!

BTW...don't take any of this rant as an indication that I am against all forms of AI - that's imply not the case. Capture One is using all sorts of AI to speed up the tedious tasks of photography (like image culling, building intricate layer masks, etc.) and I LOVE what they're doing. But, unlike Adobe, they have publicly stated that they will NOT use AI to intrude upon the creative vision of the photographer or to further disassociate photography from being a record of what the photographer captured. Chapeau to the stance of Capture One! 👍

Here's larger versions (4800 pixel) of both the AI-manipulated version of the image and the original non-AI (natural?) version of the image:

Pausing to Reflect - In An AI World: Download 4800 pixel image (JPEG: 4.2 MB)

Pausing to Reflect - Naturally: Download 4800 pixel image (JPEG: 4.3 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.

3. This image was captured during my Into the Great Bear Rainforest Exploratory Photo Adventure in the early autumn of 2023. Each year I offer trips into two different parts of the Great Bear Rainforest as well as two tours into the Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary (to photograph grizzlies, of course!). Details about these trips can be found on the Photo Tours page of this website.

4. Alert: This image definitely crosses the line from simple digital correction to digital manipulation. After processing the raw file in Capture One I used "Generative Fill" in Photoshop to heavily modify the reflection of the grizzly mom and its cub.

Behind the Camera

Pausing to Reflect. Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada. September 25, 2023.

High Efficiency* Compressed RAW (NEF) format; ISO 4500.

Nikon Z 9 paired with Z Nikkor 400mm f2.8 TC VR S @ 560mm (built-in TC engaged). Hand-held from floating Zodiac. VR on in Sport mode. Single-point AF area mode.

1/1000s @ f5.6; -0.3 stop compensation from matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

Pausing to Reflect. Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada. September 25, 2023.

Initial noise reduction and capture sharpening on the .nef (raw) file using the DeepPRIME XD algorithm of DXO PhotoLab 7.4 Elite (using the appropriate lens/camera optical module).

Subsequent adjustments to the adjusted linear DNG file (exported from PhotoLab 7) and conversion to 16-bit TIFF file (and JPEG files for web use) - including all global and selective adjustments - made using Phase One's Capture One Pro 23. In the case of this image the only global adjustment was a tweak to the overall contrast (a Levels adjustment). Selective local adjustments performed using Capture One Pro's layers and masking tools. In this case numerous small adjustments and tweaks were made on 6 separate layers, with most of the tweaks being associated with "exposure balancing" and contrast adjustments (such as adjustments to clarity, highlights, shadows, etc.).

Versions of this image that bear the "NOT A REAL PHOTO" icon had the reflection of the bears added with Generative Fill in Adobe Photoshop. Versions without the artificial reflection (and without the icon) had Photoshop modifications that were limited to the insertion of the watermark and/or text.


Pausing to Reflect. Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada. September 25, 2023.

Species Status in Canada*: Special Concern (May 2002).

While Grizzly Bears (Ursus arctos) are not technically listed as "Endangered" in Canada, they have been extirpated from most of their historical range. Grizzly Bears are far more sensitive to intrusion/disturbance in their habitat than are Black Bears and are being increasingly forced into marginal habitat by human encroachment. The Great Bear Rainforest along the central and northern coast of British Columbia is one of the last strongholds of the Grizzly Bear in Canada, and even this population is coming under increasing pressure.

On December 18, 2017 the government of British Columbia banned grizzly hunting across the entire province. This major conservation victory came after decades of tireless work by many dedicated conservationists and ecologists and, most importantly, it reflects the opinion of the vast majority of British Columbians. And, it means that AT LEAST while the current government remains in power grizzlies are finally "safe" in British Columbia.

Now that we've at least temporarily won the battle to save grizzlies in BC, it's time to re-focus our efforts toward protecting ALL of BC's carnivores, including Gray Wolves, Black Bears, Cougars, Wolverines, and more! Simply put, there are no ecological, economic, or ethical arguments supporting the trophy hunting of carnivores.

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