Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

 
Welcome to MY World

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In the Field

Welcome to MY World. Khutzeymateen Inlet (Great Bear Rainforest), BC. May 28, 2009.

The Great Bear Rainforest on the northern coast of British Columbia, Canada, is one of my favourite locations to shoot in, and the bears found there are a favoured subject of mine. One of the reasons for this is that in many places within the Great Bear Rainforest (such as the Khutzeymateen Inlet) the bears completely and fully welcome you into their world and behave as though you're not even there. Thus, the chances of getting unique or unusual shots are very good - over the last few years the bears have allowed me to photograph an amazing array of behaviours - from courtship and mating thru to territorial battles, mother-cub interactions (including nursing), weaning, predation on black bears, and more!

In this case, we saw an adult male grizzly in its day-bed as we floated in a coastal inlet in a zodiac. We approached slowly and while the bear clearly knew we were there, it was completely unconcerned about our approach. When it did raise its head, it was to look at another bear in the distance, not to stare us down. Shortly after I captured this image it lowered its head and went back to sleep. To me, this image captures what's special to me about the Khutzeymateen and the Great Bear Rainforest - unspoiled, remote, almost jungle-like, and full of amazing, gentle giants. I hope it remains this way for a long time to come...

I shot this image with a very long telephoto lens (a 600 mm) and because we were in a zodiac, I was forced to hand-hold the lens. Hand-holding a 600 mm lens from a floating and rocking boat would have been nearly impossible a few years ago. But recent major improvements in both image-stabilization technology ("VR" in Nikon-speak) and in the high ISO performance of some of today's cameras (this image was shot at "only" ISO 1100) makes capturing images such as these almost easy. I also find the Auto ISO function (as implemented on Nikon's full-frame cameras) invaluable in helping ensure these "pushing the edge" images are sharp - I simply "dial-in" the longest shutter speed that I know I can hand-hold with a given lens (in the case of the 600 mm I use 1/250s), pick the maximum ISO I want to use (normally I use 1600 ISO, but in some cases I go up to 3200 ISO), and then put my camera on Aperture Priority mode and shoot as normal. Then, it's just a matter of being there!

This image was captured during my annual "Grizzlies of the Khutzeymateen" Instructional Photo Tour in the spring of 2009. If you're interested in joining me on one of my photo tours into the Great Bear Rainforest, check out the details on my "Photo Tours" page. My Instructional Photo Tours into the Great Bear Rainforest are run in conjunction with Ocean Light II Adventures - they offer a number of amazing adventure tours (including top-notch bear-viewing tours as well as tours of exploration of the Queen Charlotte Islands) and I highly recommend them!

Behind the Camera

Welcome to MY World. Khutzeymateen Inlet (Great Bear Rainforest), BC. May 28, 2009.

Digital Capture; Compressed RAW (NEF) 14-bit format; ISO 1100.

Nikon D3 with AF-S Nikkor 600mm f/4G IF-ED II VR lens - handheld from floating zodiac. VR turned to "On" and in "Normal" mode.

1/250s @ f4.5; no compensation from matrix-metered exposure setting of camera.

At the Computer

Welcome to MY World. Khutzeymateen Inlet (Great Bear Rainforest), BC. May 28, 2009.

RAW Conversion to 16-bit TIFF, including first-pass/capture sharpening using Phase One's Capture One Pro 4.8. Three RAW conversions at different exposure settings - ranging from -0.5 stops (for background and to reduce highlight brightness) through to +0.11 stops (to assist in recovery of shadow detail from eye and chest region).

Further digital corrections on 16-bit TIFF file using Adobe's Photoshop CS4. Adjustments included compositing and masking of 3 exposure versions, selective colour saturation and desaturation and selective sharpening for web output.

Conservation

Welcome to MY World. Khutzeymateen Inlet (Great Bear Rainforest), BC. May 28, 2009.

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

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.

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