Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

Wading into Sunset

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In the Field

Wading Into Sunset. Great Bear Rainforest (central BC coast), BC, Canada. October 4, 2012.

After working in the Great Bear Rainforest over a number of years you come to appreciate the nuances, subtleties and moodiness of soft, diffuse light. If you don't...well...perhaps you should consider shooting somewhere else! But even with this newfound recognition of the power of pastel colours it's still wonderful when the sun comes out, especially late in the day. In fact, I was just about to snap a tightly framed abstract sunset shot when a moving brown blob hijacked my chosen AF bracket and turned my landscape shot into this. The nerve of the consideration for photographers!

When I was processing this shot I was confronted with a bit of a conundrum. The thin blue line that runs edge-to-edge in the image - which was produced by the ripples of the moving bear reflecting off a brilliant blue sky - was naturally hyper-saturated with colour. To be blunt, it was saturated to the point of almost gaudiness - but completely naturally. Now, I rarely hesitate to criticize photographers who delve deeply (as in "too deeply") into the power of HDR software or who like to really crank up the colour saturation during image processing. And here I was...with an image that looked like it was pushed WAY too far in Photoshop! What to do? Well...believe it or not, I chose to abandon reality and DESATURATE the blues by 15 "units" (in Photoshop) in an effort to return the naturally-occurring scene to one that appeared more natural (even if it isn't)! I'm not sure, but this may be the first time where I "cheated" on an image by pulling back on the colour!

Those who've attended any of my instructional photo tours or seminars, or who have followed my work for a while, will know that I regularly (and, at times, painstakingly) tweak the exposure of an image during post-processing. I do this because I feel that most or all cameras tend to "flatten out" scenes far too much, especially if they're at all over-exposed. And, I find that once you get comfortable (or "good") at tweaking exposures, you rarely need to do much with colour saturation to produce rich, bold colours in an image. In fact, nowadays I selectively desaturate portions of images almost as much as I saturate them. But...this is the only time I can remember desaturating an image to avoid having anyone claim that I dramatically OVER-saturated it!

Here's a larger (2400 pixel) version of this very stately-looking griz:

Wading Into Sunset: Download 2400 pixel image (JPEG: 1.2 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. This image was captured during one of my autumn "Into the Great Bear Rainforest" photo tours in 2012. Each year I offer trips into two different parts of the Great Bear Rainforest as well as one to photograph marine mammals and oceanscapes near the northern tip of Vancouver Island. And, in selected years, I also offer photo tours to additional locations to capture other highly sought-after subjects, such as various boreal owl species, fishing grizzlies, and more. Details about these trips can be found on the Photo Tours page of this website.

3. 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 other sounds).

Behind the Camera

Wading Into Sunset. Great Bear Rainforest (central BC coast), BC, Canada. October 4, 2012.

Digital Capture; Compressed RAW (NEF) 14-bit format; ISO 280.

Nikon D4 paired with Nikkor 400mm f2.8 VRII prime lens - hand held from floating Zodiac. VR on and in normal mode.

1/400s @ f5; No compensation from matrix-metered exposure setting. Auto ISO engaged with shutter speed set to "Auto" (1/focal length of lens).

At the Computer

Wading Into Sunset. Great Bear Rainforest (central BC coast), BC, Canada. October 4, 2012.

RAW Conversion to 16-bit TIFF, including first-pass/capture sharpening and light noise reduction using Capture One Pro version 6. Three raw variants (processed from raw) differing by a total of 0.8 stops in exposure.

Further digital corrections on resulting 16-bit TIFF files using Adobe's Photoshop CS6 and Light Craft's Lightzone. Photoshop adjustments included compositing the raw conversion exposure variants, selective minor tweaks to exposure, selective desaturation of the blues, and selective sharpening for web output. Final tone tweaking performed using tonemapper/re-light tool in Lightzone.


Wading Into Sunset. Great Bear Rainforest (central BC coast), BC, Canada. October 4, 2012.

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.

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.

In a great first step towards ending the hunting of carnivores throughout BC the Raincoast Conservation Foundation has developed a program designed to protect ALL carnivores within the Great Bear Rainforest. Details about this program can be found on this page on Raincoast's website. Check it out and, better yet, make a donation to help Raincoast purchase the remaining commercial hunting tenures in the Great Bear!

*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