Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

Guarding Its Domain

Availability: Limited Edition Print; RM Stock (??)

In the Field

Guarding Its Domain. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. June 29, 2005.

This image is a perfect example of why you should always keep your eyes wide open when out in the field. I had been stalking a Long-eared Owl and decided to stop and set up my camera, tripod and flash where I thought I'd be most likely to see the bird. While I was waiting for the owl I noticed this dark butterfly perched on a leaf. Whenever ANYTHING flew by, be it bird, bee or other butterflies, this Lorquin's Admiral would fly out and chase it until it left the area. After each sortie the butterfly would return to the same perch and go back on guard.

When I first noticed what the butterfly was doing it was sitting in relatively dark shade. I could see that a ray of sunshine was working its way toward the butterfly and knew that for a few seconds it would be illuminated. I waited and tripped the shutter just as the sun reached the butterfly. And, I ended up getting more lucky than I expected - the background was just outside the ray of sunshine and it ended up as a pleasingly blurred dark, rich green in the final image. I'm often asked what I used as a backdrop when I show this image!

Behind the Camera

Guarding Its Domain. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. June 29, 2005.

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. SB-800 flash (fill) with Better Beamer Flash Extender mounted on Really Right Stuff flash bracket. VR turned to "On" and in "Normal" mode.

1/60s @ f8; -1.67 stop exposure compensation from matrix-metered exposure setting; balanced i-TTL flash exposure with -0.3 stop compensation on SB-800.

At the Computer

Guarding Its Domain. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. June 29, 2005.

RAW Conversion, including first-pass sharpening, exposure compensation, and tone curve adjustment, using Phase One's C1 Pro.

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


Guarding Its Domain. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. June 29, 2005.

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.

The Lorquin's Admiral (Limenitis lorquini) is a dark, medium-sized butterfly found in western North America from British Columbia south to Baja California and east to western Montana and Idaho. This species will aggressively defend its territory against others of the same species and will, at times, chase other flying insects and birds. The species is considered secure globally although it may be quite rare in parts of its range (particularly at the periphery).

This Lorquin's Admiral was photographed in the Columbia Valley of the East Kootenays. While this species is not currently not considered at risk itself, 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