Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

 
Wounded Willow Ptarmigan

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In the Field

Wounded Willow Ptarmigan. Cape Churchill, MB, Canada. October 23, 2004.

Some photos tell a story or, at the very least, leave you pondering about what happened before (or after) the image was shot. We found this Willow Ptarmigan because of the bright red patch of blood on the snow. If you look carefully you can see that there is blood on the lower leg of the bird as well. So, the source of the blood is the bird. But how was the bird injured? Was it badly hurt or just scratched? Did it survive? I have no idea what the answers to these questions are (although there was a Red Fox in the area and I suspect he may have had something to do with the injury), but in asking them the image (and the bird) becomes slightly more than a single instant in time.

Behind the Camera

Wounded Willow Ptarmigan. Cape Churchill, MB, Canada. October 23, 2004.

Digital Capture; Compressed RAW (NEF) format; ISO 200.

Nikon D2H with Nikon 200-400 mm f/4G ED-IF AF-S VR lens @ 400 mm (600 mm equivalent with digital conversion factor) supported on bean bag. VR turned to "On" and in "Normal" mode.

1/400s @ f4; no compensation from matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

Wounded Willow Ptarmigan. Cape Churchill, MB, Canada. October 23, 2004.

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 CS, including additional selective tone curve adjustment, selective saturation enhancement, and selective sharpening for web output.

Conservation

Wounded Willow Ptarmigan. Cape Churchill, MB, Canada. October 23, 2004.

Ten percent of the revenue generated by this image will be donated to the Yellowstone to Yukon Conservation Initiative.

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

The Willow Ptarmigan (Lagopus lagopus) is a small member of the pheasant family that is found across the tundra of North America. During the winter the Willow Ptarmigan is snowy white (as pictured above), but change their plumage to a brown mottled colour in the spring. While the species is generally common throughout its range, the population does cycle from abundant to scarce. The Willow Ptarmigan is currently harvested as a game bird.

The Yellowstone to Yukon (Y2Y) Conservation Initiative seeks to ensure that the world-renowned wilderness, wildlife, native plants, and natural processes of the Yellowstone to Yukon region continue to function as an interconnected web of life, capable of supporting all of its natural and human communities, for current and future generations.

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