Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

The Log Loungers

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In the Field

The Log Loungers. Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada. September 25, 2023.

Call me weird (it sure wouldn't be the first time), but even after working with my cameras on BC's central coast for over two decades Harbor Seals remain among my favourite subjects. Part of it, I think, is because of their appearance. They have wonderfully expressive faces (with enchanting eyes that are very dark magenta) and have a penchant for staring RIGHT at you. Add in the whiskers, highly variable coat colours, and the fact - that compared to most mammals - they're more than a little "odd" looking and you have a subject I just can't resist. Their tendency to "perch" themselves on some pretty spectacular logs and rocks doesn't hurt much either!

Another thing that really captivates me about seals is how they thrive in an environment that is so utterly hostile to humans. They're definitely awkward on land and have to move via almost "slithering" along (unlike sea lions they can't use their fore- or hind flippers to support their body and almost walk on), but once they get in the water they are a picture of grace and agility.

These two log-loungers exhibited both calmness and curiosity as we approached them in our Zodiac. There was an entire log full of them (probably 20 or so), but I found these two particularly appealing to me. Not only did they cooperate by keeping their heads on the same focal plane (allowing me to use a fairly wide aperture to functionally remove any distractions in the foreground and background), but they looked to me like two long-time pals hanging out and comparing war stories. Definitely a Kodak (or Nikon?) moment!

Here's a larger version (4800 pixel) of these friendly fat dudes:

The Log Loungers: Download 4800 pixel image (JPEG: 4.4 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

The Log Loungers. Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada. September 25, 2023.

High Efficiency* Compressed RAW (NEF) format; ISO 1250.

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.

1/500s @ f5; -1.0 stop compensation from matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

The Log Loungers. 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 there were no global adjustments made to this image. Selective local adjustments performed using Capture One Pro’s layers and masking tools. In this case small adjustments were made on 5 separate layers and most all were under the general umbrella of “exposure balancing”, with one or more highly targeted and selective tweaks to brightness (mid-tone exposure), clarity (mid-tone contrast), the highlights, blacks, and shadows. There were also some minor colour saturation (and desaturation) tweaks.

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


The Log Loungers. Great Bear Rainforest, British Columbia, Canada. September 25, 2023.

Species Status in Canada*: Most Harbour Seal populations in Canada are not listed as Threatened or Endangered. The Lac des Loups Marins landlocked population of Quebec (Ungave Peninsula) currently listed as Endangered (most recent assessment update - November 2007).

The Harbour Seal (Phoca vitulina) is found on both the eastern and western coasts of North America. They tend not to make long migrations and in many areas they are present year-round. When foraging Harbour Seals normally dive to between 30 and 100 metres in depth and stay below the surface for 5 to 6 minutes. On occasion they have been known to dive to depths of over 450 metres and have stay submerged for almost 30 minutes. Harbour Seals have a diverse diet, including cephalopod, crustacceans and a variety of fish such as herring, eulachon, pollock, and salmon.

Historically bounty programs were used in both Canada and the USA to reduce populations of Harbour Seals. In more recent times seals have become protected over much of North America and some populations have rebounded strongly (it is estimated that over 150,000 seals now occupy the coast of British Columbia). There is a land-locked and freshwater sub-species of the Harbour Seal found on the Ungava Peninsula of northern Quebec. This population is now down to an estimated 100 individuals and is listed as Endangered by COSEWIC.

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