Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

Dandelion Seed on Paintbrush

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

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In the Field

Dandelion Seed on Paintbrush. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. June 10, 2005.

Scarlet Paintbrush is a striking flower which many scientists believe coevolved with hummingbirds. I was initially attracted to this particular flower by the light striking it. The flower was in a shady aspen grove and was being intermittently illuminated from behind by the sun (whenever the sun poked through patchy clouds). When I got closer I noticed the fragile dandelion seed balanced on the top of the flower.

In this image I used a longer-focal length macro lens with it's aperture almost wide open, which threw the background completely out of focus. This effectively isolates the flower from its background and allows the viewer's full attention to focus on the flower.

Alert - Digitally Manipulated Image: This image clearly crosses the line from simple digital correction to digital manipulation. The soft, dream-like image you are viewing is partially the product of digital manipulation. For details on how this image was produced, see Bio: Techniques (I refer to this technique as the "Wildflower Effect").

It is my policy to clearly identify ANY images on this website that overstep the bounds of digital correction and enter the territory of digital manipulation (see Voice: Commentary: Digital Correction vs. Digital Manipulation).

Behind the Camera

Dandelion Seed on Paintbrush. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. June 10, 2005.

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

Nikon D2X with Nikon AF Micro 200 mm f/4 ED lens (300 mm equivalent with digital conversion factor) supported on Gitzo G2220 Explorer tripod with Really Right Stuff BH-55 ballhead. Nikon MC-20 cable release.

1/80s @ f5.6; no compensation from matrix-metered exposure setting. Shutter triggered with mirror-up.

At the Computer

Dandelion Seed on Paintbrush. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. June 10, 2005.

RAW Conversion to 16-bit TIFF, 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 selective Gaussian blur, compositing and blending of blurred and sharp layers, selective saturation enhancement, and selective sharpening for web output.


Dandelion Seed on Paintbrush. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. June 10, 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.

Paintbrushes (Castilleja spp.) are one of the most abundant and variable wildflowers found in the Canadian Rockies. They vary in colour from blood-red through to delicate pink, orange, yellow and even white. Many researchers believe that Paintbrushes, especially those red in colour, coevolved with hummingbirds and cite their colour and tight clusters of flowers, their long and narrow tubes leading to their nectar, and their lack of smell as characteristics well suited to use by nectar-seeking hummingbirds.

This specimen of Scarlet Paintbrush (Castilleja miniata) was photographed in the Columbia Valley of the East Kootenays. While this species is not currently considered at risk, like many other species local populations are very vulnerable to habitat loss. 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