Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

Grasshopper on Lily

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In the Field

Grasshopper on Lily. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. June 24, 2005.

I had been looking at this Western Wood Lily for at least 5 minutes (trying to understand how to best work with this flower) before I noticed this tiny "hopper" on the petal (it was REALLY small!). With the deep green background the "scene" had strong natural colour contrast - so I wanted to include and balance both the deep greens with the rich oranges in the final image. I wanted to emphasize both the hopper and the flowers' stamens and throw everything else into soft focus. But, the hopper and stamen were on very different focal planes - I could have one or the other in sharp focus, but not both. If fact, I couldn't even keep all the stamens in focus simultaneously. I solved the problem by shooting 3 images of the scene, each shot on a different focal plane (2 images to capture the flower parts and 1 image to capture the hopper). Then, I combined the images in Photoshop to produce what I refer to as a "focal plane composite". It's a very creative technique and once you're aware of how it works, you start looking at close-up scenes very differently. A full explanation of the technique is given in Bio: Techniques.

Alert: Digitally Manipulated Image: This image is a focal plane composite of 3 individual images.

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

Grasshopper on Lily. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. June 24, 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. Sigma EM-140DG Macro flash. Nikon MC-20 cable release.

3 exposures, each at 1/125s @ f5.6 and each with different focal plane; +1.0 stop compensation from matrix-metered exposure setting; balanced TTL flash exposure with -0.67 stop compensation on EM-140DG. Shutter triggered with mirror-up.

At the Computer

Grasshopper on Lily. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. June 24, 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 compositing of the 3 versions of the image with different focal planes, selective saturation enhancement, and selective sharpening for web output.


Grasshopper on Lily. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. June 24, 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.

Western Wood Lily (Lilium philadelphicum) is a visually stunning, large orange lily that is found in moist and often shaded areas of both the plains and montane regions of BC and Alberta south to New Mexico. Because the Western Wood Lily is so striking it is often picked by humans, and this has resulted in the disappearance of it from some localities.

This Western Wood Lily was photographed in the Columbia Valley of the East Kootenays. While this species is not currently not 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