Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

Going for a Twofer!

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In the Field

Going for a Twofer! Great Bear Rainforest (central BC coast), Canada. September 28, 2016.

Just SEEING a Spirit Bear is a special treat. And, of course, for many photographing one is an even more special event. So, it's pretty easy to imagine how thrilling it was to watch and photograph this adult female Spirit Bear actively fishing for salmon in a shallow stream in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest.

When bears are fishing they often completely freeze all motion and stare into the water before breaking into a chaotic "splashy" charge at a hapless fish. The prolonged and focused "stare at the water" behavior can make it a little easier for a photographer to predict and capture the action associated with a bear fishing.

In this case, however, I was kind of surprised by this bear's lunge and feel fortunate to have snagged the shot. Why?'s a little hard to see in this shot, but this Spirit Bear had JUST caught a good-sized fish and was walking in the water when it saw another fish and instantly lunged at it. this shot this bear already has a whole salmon in its mouth and is lunging at a second fish (that is clearly visible in the foreground). I have no clue what the bear had planned in terms of how it was going to "lock onto" this new fish (given its mouth is already jam-packed with another salmon!). But she was definitely "going for a twofer"! Oh...and if anyone is interested, she was unsuccessful in capturing the second fish...

Here's a larger (2400 pixel) version of this greedy Spirit Bear for your perusal:

Going for a Twofer! Download 2400 pixel image (JPEG: 2.2 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 2016. 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).

Behind the Camera

Going for a Twofer! Great Bear Rainforest (central BC coast), Canada. September 28, 2016.

Digital Capture; Compressed RAW (NEF) 14-bit format; ISO 4000.

Nikon D5 paired with Nikkor 70-200mm f4 VR @ 70mm. Hand-held. VR on and in "Normal" mode. 72-point Dynamic Area focusing.

1/1600s @ f4.5; -0.67 stop compensation from "recommended" matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

Going for a Twofer! Great Bear Rainforest (central BC coast), Canada. September 28, 2016.

RAW Conversion to 16-bit TIFF using Phase One's Capture One Pro 9.3. Three raw variants (different versions of a single raw capture) processed, with the variants differing in exposure settings (1.0 stop total difference between the variants).

Further digital corrections on resulting 16-bit TIFF files using Adobe's Photoshop CC 2015 and Light Crafts Lightzone. Photoshop adjustments included compositing (blending) of the three output files from the raw converter, minor colour saturation and exposure tweaks, and final selective sharpening for web output. Final tone-tweaking performed using LightZone's "tonemapper" tool.


Going for a Twofer! Great Bear Rainforest (central BC coast), Canada. September 28, 2016.

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

Species Status in Canada**: Not currently listed as Threatened or Endangered.

The "Spirit" Bear is a rare genetically-based colour variant of the common Black Bear (Ursus americana). It has been estimated that less than 300 Spirit Bears exist today. Because the Black Bear is not considered under threat as a species, the Spirit Bear suffers from having the same conservation designation (it should be acknowledged that in British Columbia - the jurisdiction of greatest Spirit Bear abundance - hunting of these white-coated bears is not permitted). For reasons that are not fully understood, the Spirit Bear occurs with greater frequency in a relatively small geographic area within The Great Bear Rainforest of the central and northern coast of British Columbia. In this area 10 to 30% of the bears possess white coats. Many of the black-coloured Black Bears in this region carry the gene for white coats, so allowing hunting of ANY Black Bears in this region can reduce the frequency of the gene for white coats. Thus, to protect the Spirit Bear, it is necessary to prohibit the hunting of ALL Black Bears in this region. And, very unfortunately, the globally unique ecosystem that contains the Spirit Bear is under development pressure, especially from the forestry industry. If this unique environment is altered, we may lose the wonderful genetic anomaly known as the Spirit Bear forever.

The region this image was shot in is, at the time of this writing (October 20, 2016), still facing an ongoing and potentially catastrophic threat. There is a proposal to bring oil super-tankers through the narrow and treacherous channels of the Great Bear Rainforest. Any mishap - such as the one that sunk the Queen of the North ferry on March 22, 2006 - could result in an oilspill with disastrous consequences.

*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