Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill


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In the Field

Wary. Taku River Drainage, northern BC, Canada. August 4, 2016.

Young bears are fascinating animals to watch closely. This young bear (which is in its 3rd summer of life and still hanging out with mom) lives in an extremely remote location in northern BC, but has encountered humans before. Its mom is real comfortable around humans, but this young one is still vary wary of them. You could almost feel the internal conflict in motivation between approach and retreat in this young one's head as it very reluctantly followed mom on a path that took it closer to those darned "uprights" than it wanted to be! When the young bear dropped its head and glanced over at mom it gave me the look of "wariness" that I was hoping to capture in this shot.

Here's a larger (2400 pixel) version of this wary little dude for your perusal:

Wary: Download 2400 pixel image (JPEG: 1.6 MB)


1. This image - in all resolutions - is protected by copyright. I'm fine with personal uses of them (including use as desktop backgrounds or screensavers on your own computer), but unauthorized commercial use of the image is prohibited by law. Thanks in advance for respecting my copyright!

2. This image was captured during my August 2016 "Fishing Grizzlies of the Taku" photo tour. Details about all my photo tours can be found on the Photo Tours page of this website.

3. Like all wildlife images on this website, the subject(s) is/are fully wild and completely unconstrained. Besides the potential impact of my/our presence, nothing has been done to intentionally alter or affect the ongoing behavior of the subject and, of course, there has been no use of any form of bait or other form of wildlife attractants (including vocalizations).

Behind the Camera

Wary. Taku River Drainage, northern BC, Canada. August 4, 2016.

Digital Capture; Compressed RAW (NEF) 14-bit format; ISO 1250.

Nikon D5 paired with Nikkor 400mm f2.8E VR plus TC-14EIII (1.4x) teleconverter, for a total EFL of 550mm. Hand-held. VR on and in "Sport" mode.

1/400s @ f4.5; -0.33 stop compensation from "recommended" matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

Wary. Taku River Drainage, northern BC, Canada. August 4, 2016.

RAW Conversion to 16-bit TIFF using Phase One's Capture One Pro 9.2. Four raw variants (different versions of a single raw capture) processed, with the variants differing in exposure settings (1.3 stop total difference between the variants), white balance settings, and shadow retrieval settings.

Further digital corrections on resulting 16-bit TIFF files using Adobe's Photoshop CC 2015 and Light Crafts Lightzone. Photoshop adjustments included compositing (blending) of the four output files from the raw converter, minor exposure and colour saturation tweaks, and final selective sharpening for web output. Final tone-tweaking performed using LightZone's "tonemapper" tool.


Wary. Taku River Drainage, northern BC, Canada. August 4, 2016.

Ten percent of the revenue generated by this image will be donated to Raincoast*.

Species Status in Canada**: Special Concern (May 2002).

While Grizzly Bears (Ursus arctos) are not technically listed as "Endangered" in Canada, they have been extirpated from most of their historical range. Grizzly Bears are far more sensitive to intrusion/disturbance in their habitat than are Black Bears and are being increasingly forced into marginal habitat by human encroachment. The Great Bear Rainforest along the central and northern coast of British Columbia is one of the last strongholds of the Grizzly Bear in Canada, and even this population is coming under increasing pressure.

Sadly, because this bear resides in BC, there's a very real chance that its life will be ended by a bullet. And, its head and paws will be cut off (leaving its carcass to simply rot) so that they can be mounted and adorn the wall of some fearless trophy hunter (who will, no doubt, be cheered on by all the grasses, sedges and clams that will be saved from being so mercilessly eaten by this fearsome beast).

The debate about the trophy hunting of carnivores can be broken into 3 arguments: the ethical, the economic, and the ecological. The ethical argument for the trophy hunting of grizzlies in BC? On that one - just go back and look at this image and read the paragraph immediately above. The economic argument? Well, it's on even shakier grounds - not only does bear-watching in BC generate 11-15 times as much revenue as bear hunting (and employ 10-15 times as many people), but the revenue generated by bear hunting doesn't even cover the cost to the BC Gov't of managing the hunt itself - it's a net loss to the taxpayers of BC (all studies related to these economic claims can be supplied on request). The ecological argument? Yep, you guessed right - there isn't one. As a matter of fact, an increasing body of sound, peer-reviewed scientific studies have shown how the guild of carnivores at the TOP of the food chain are exceptionally important to the overall health of ecosystems - everything from ensuring continued biodiversity through to maximizing that amount of carbon dioxide the ecosystem can absorb (climate change consequences, anyone?).

So why does the trophy hunting of carnivores (and bears in particular) continue to exist in BC? Good question. Well, it sure isn't because of public support - just under 90% of British Columbians are against it. And many First Nations have banned it in their territories. Sadly, it appears that little more than the fact that a handful of elected officials (MLA's) in a few rural ridings fear the backlash from voters if they stand against trophy hunting is keeping trophy hunting alive.

Those wishing to get active in helping to stop the trophy hunting of carnivores in BC are encouraged to visit this page on Raincoast's website. And please help spread the word!

*The Raincoast Conservation Society (and Foundation) is an effective and efficient organization that has been fighting for protection of this unique habitat. If you are looking for a meaningful way to contribute to the conservation of this amazing ecosystem, Raincoast will provide maximal "bang" for your conservation dollars.

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