Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

Inquisitive White-tailed Doe

Availability: RM Stock (??)

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In the Field

Inquisitive White-tailed Doe. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. April 25, 2006.

If you've ever wondered why they're called White-tailed Deer this image should supply you with the answer! This doe seemed to be fascinated with me and over a 2 hour period it approached me at least half a dozen times (I was standing almost motionless during this entire time while working with a pair of Mountain Bluebirds). At one point it came as close as 2 metres from me, all the while staring at me as though it was trying to decide what I was up to!

Many wildlife photographers like to use blinds (or "hides" as our friends in the UK call them) in order to photograph their subjects at reasonably close range. I prefer to "disappear in plain sight", meaning that I like to remain in sight and let the wildlife gradually become accustomed to me and approach in a time frame they're comfortable with. "Disappearing in plain sight" requires a lot of patience, but I find I'm never bored while in the field. If you're observant enough there's always SOMETHING going on around you - and often it's something that will make a great photo! You just have to slow down and listen and look (and I mean REALLY look!).

Behind the Camera

Inquisitive White-tailed Doe. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. April 25, 2006.

Digital Capture; Compressed RAW (NEF) format; ISO 100.

Nikon D2X with Nikon 200-400 mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S VR lens @ 400 mm (600 mm equivalent with digital conversion factor) supported on Gitzo 1348 carbon fibre tripod with Wimberley head. VR turned to "On" and in "Normal" mode.

1/180s @ f4; no compensation from matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

Inquisitive White-tailed Doe. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. April 25, 2006.

RAW Conversion to 16-bit TIFF, including first-pass sharpening and levels adjustment, using Apple Aperture.

All further digital correction on 16-bit TIFF file using Adobe's Photoshop CS2, including tone curve adjustment, selective saturation enhancement and selective sharpening for web output.


Inquisitive White-tailed Doe. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. April 25, 2006.

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

Species Status in Canada*: This species is not designated as at risk.

White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) are one of the most widely distributed mammals in North America - they can be found in virtually all of southern Canada and in most of the American states. While whitetails are common now, in the late 1800's they were in serious risk of extinction - their populations had been reduced from about 40 million (across North America) to under 500,000. The conservation effort to return whitetails to numbers sufficient for long-term survival was massive and included strict harvest regulations, intense management, reintroductions, and habitat protection. Today, most populations in the United States do not represent original stock and the distinction of most historical subspecies is uncertain.

Whitetails resemble Mule Deer quite closely, and the two species overlap in distribution in western North America. The two species tend to prefer different habitats, with whitetails occupying more heavily forested land and along river valley bottoms, while muleys tend to prefer uplands and montane areas. On rare occasions, the two species will interbreed. Occasionally the offspring are fertile, but in most cases they are sterile.

This adult female whitetail was photographed in the Columbia Valley of the East Kootenays. While this species is not currently not considered at risk, many ecosystems within the Columbia Valley face development pressure, including pressure from logging operations. Wildsight is an effective conservation organization that protects biodiversity and promotes sustainable communities in Canada's Columbia and Rocky Mountains. Support for Wildsight, through donation or becoming a member, will help ensure that they remain effective in their efforts to conserve threatened or endangered species and ecosystems.

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