Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

Red on White

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In the Field

Red On White. Findlay Creek Region, BC, Canada. February 18, 2017.

While I tend to have a strong predilection for mammalian carnivores as photographic subjects, I have to admit I still love the some of the smaller and more common species, especially including those so-cheeky Red Squirrels. I also like to use squirrels when I'm testing new gear - they do tend to be a little more available than grizzlies are, especially in winter! When I captured this polite-looking little guy I was testing and comparing the performance of the Nikkor 500mm f4E against the Sigma Sport 500mm f4 - both with their respective 1.4x teleconverters in place. THIS image was captured using the Sigma Sport 500mm f4 lens with the Sigma TC-1401 (1.4x) teleconverter on a Nikon D500 body - so functionally equivalent to a 1050mm lens on a full frame camera body.

I discussed the optical performance of the Nikkor and Sigma 500mm lenses in a blog entry on 11 January 2017. In that entry I made the following comment about how the Nikkor and Sigma 500mm lenses both performed when paired up with their respective 1.4x teleconverters:

" is my opinion that both the Sigma and Nikon 500mm lenses experience MORE image degradation when paired with their respective 1.4x TC's than the Nikkor 400mm f2.8E VR does."

Based on email I have received since making that statement I think many are misinterpreting what I said. The Nikkor 400mm f2.8E works SUPERBLY with the Nikkor TC-14EIII teleconverter (in my view it pairs up better with that TC than any Nikon mount lens I have ever used). It's all a matter of perspective and what you're used to shooting - I'm quite sure that anyone who has used teleconverters only with zoom lenses would be AMAZED at the image quality you can get out of the Sigma 500 OR the Nikkor 500 when you use them with their 1.4x teleconverters. In absolute terms you CAN get very sharp shots with both of these 500's with their 1.4x TC's in place. And I think this image is a good case in point!

And for those who want to do a little pixel-peeping, here's a larger (2400 pixel) version of this polite-looking (for now!) Red Squirrel:

Red On White: Download 2400 pixel image (JPEG: 1.1 MB)


1. 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!

2. Like all wildlife images on this website, the subject(s) is/are fully wild and completely unconstrained. Besides the potential impact of my/our presence, nothing has been done to intentionally alter or affect the ongoing behavior of the subject and, of course, there has been no use of any form of bait or other form of wildlife attractants (including vocalizations or sounds).

Behind the Camera

Red On White. Findlay Creek Region, BC, Canada. February 18, 2017.

Digital Capture; Compressed RAW (NEF) 14-bit format; ISO 720.

Nikon D500 paired with Sigma Sport 500mm f4 and Sigma TC-1401 (1.4x) teleconverter (for a total EFL of 1050mm). Supported on Jobu Algonquin tripod with Jobu Heavy Duty MkIV gimbal head (with all tensioners loose).. OS on and in "OS1" mode, with OS1 stabilization customized to Moderate View mode; AF customized to Fast Priority AF.

1/640s @ f9; +1.0 stop compensation from "recommended" matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

Red On White. Findlay Creek Region, BC, Canada. February 18, 2017.

RAW Conversion to 16-bit TIFF using Phase One's Capture One Pro 10. Two raw variants (different versions of a single raw capture) processed, with the variants differing only in exposure settings (0.25 stop total difference between the variants).

Further digital corrections on resulting 16-bit TIFF files using Adobe's Photoshop CC 2017 and Light Crafts Lightzone. Photoshop adjustments included compositing (blending) of the two output files from the raw converter and final selective sharpening for web output. Final tone-tweaking performed using LightZone's "tonemapper" tool.


Red On White. Findlay Creek Region, BC, Canada. February 18, 2017.

Ten percent of the revenue generated by this image will be donated to Raincoast*.

IUCN Conservation Status**: Species of Least Concern.

The Red Squirrel (Tamiasciurus hudsonicus) is a medium-sized squirrel that occupies year-round exclusive territories from which they will aggressively repel intruding squirrels. They are widely distributed across much of North America almost everywhere conifers (and the cones the squirrels feed on) are found, except on portions of the west coast where they are replaced by Douglas Squirrels (AKA "Chickarees").

Red Squirrels have adapted well to the presence of humans and have the IUCN conservation status of a species of Least Concern. In many urban areas in North America the Eastern Gray Squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis) have been introduced and ecologically replaced Red Squirrels. In North America this hasn't seemed to impact much on rural Red Squirrel populations, but in Britain the introduction of the Eastern Gray has had a major impact on the native Red Squirrel (Sciurus vulgaris), with the invasive grays replacing the native reds over much of their historical range.

*The Raincoast Conservation Society (and Foundation) is an effective and efficient organization that has been fighting for protection of this unique habitat. If you are looking for a meaningful way to contribute to the conservation of this amazing ecosystem, Raincoast will provide maximal "bang" for your conservation dollars.

**as determined by the IUCN: The Internation Union for Conservation of Nature - see