Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

Autumn in the Great Bear Rainforest

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In the Field

Autumn in the Great Bear Rainforest. Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada. September 26, 2023.

One of the main reasons I love shooting wildlife in the Great Bear Rainforest on the mid BC coast is the number of animalscape photo ops it can offer up. I'm among those who consider animalscapes to be a "higher form" of wildlife photography...they combine elements of landscape shooting with the challenges associated with wildlife photography (including simply finding the subjects, and the tougher challenge of finding the subjects in the right place to allow you to create an animalscape). Not only are good animalscape opportunities hard to come by, but many wildlife photographers look right by them (without raising their camera) - owing to them being driven by a "must get closer, must get full-frame shot" mindset. Me? I'm always looking for animalscape opportunity first, and if I can't find one I'll settle for a mundane full-frame shot! 😉

When I say "animalscape" many folks think I mean "shot with a wide-angle lens". While some folks may shoot their animalscapes with short lenses, I personally prefer longer focal lengths for my animalscape shots, with most of mine shot with either a 120-300mm f2.8 or a 400mm f2.8 lens. While I don't shoot all my animalscapes with wide apertures (some animalscapes beg for sharpness from immediate foreground through to distant background), I do like to use wide apertures for many of them (because of the increased control over the DoF and the associated ability to soften the background). On that note, I am REALLY looking forward to using my Z 135mm f1.8S (Plena) for animalscape shooting in 2024!

This particular animalscape (or, I suppose, "eaglescape") was shot with a Z 9 with a Nikkor 120-300mm f2.8E attached to it (zoomed to 165mm). At the time of this writing (March of 2024) this is the only F-mount lens I still regularly use. I'm hoping Nikon will offer a Z-mount version of this lens soon, and hoping even more that they shave some weight off it AND add a built-in 1.4x TC. For me, this would be nothing short of a dream lens - a very fast f2.8 from 120mm (or possibly 100mm) to 300mm and an acceptable fast 301mm to 420mm. Not only would this lens fill a noticeable gap in Nikon's Z line-up (where's the fast 300mm??), but it would give us a fast and fantastic (tho' pricey) alternative to the existing 100-400mm.

Fingers crossed... 😉

Here's a larger version (4800 pixel) of this "Oh so typical" Great Bear Rainforest Eaglescape:

Autumn in the Great Bear Rainforest: Download 4800 pixel image (JPEG: 6.9 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.

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.

Behind the Camera

Autumn in the Great Bear Rainforest. Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada. September 26, 2023.

High Efficiency* Compressed RAW (NEF) format; ISO 1400.

Nikon Z 9 paired with Nikkor 120-300mm f2.8E @ 165mm. Hand-held from floating Zodiac. VR on in Sport mode. 3D-tracking AF area mode with subject detection on Animal mode.

1/400s @ f4.5; -0.7 stop compensation from matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

Autumn in the Great Bear Rainforest. Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada. September 26, 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 8 separate layers, with most of the tweaks being associated with "exposure balancing" and contrast adjustments (such as adjustments to clarity, highlights, shadows, etc.). Additionally, I used some negative Dehaze adjustments along with some creative curves adjustments!

Photoshop modifications were limited to the insertion of the watermark and/or text and a 250 pixel addition to the top of the image using "Generative Expand".


Autumn in the Great Bear Rainforest. Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada. September 26, 2023.

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