Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

Scarlet Paintbrush

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

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In the Field

Scarlet Paintbrush. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. June 12, 2005.

When I saw this Scarlet Paintbrush I was struck by the alternating shoots and by the "visual competition" between the two flowers. Photographically the largest challenge in getting this shot was choosing a lens and aperture combination that kept selected portions of the plant in focus while still isolating it from its background (i.e., blurring the background).

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

Scarlet Paintbrush. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. June 12, 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.

1/90s @ f5.6; no compensation from matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

Scarlet Paintbrush. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. June 12, 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.


Scarlet Paintbrush. Findlay Creek, BC, Canada. June 12, 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