Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

 
Shaking It Up!

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In the Field

Shaking It Up! Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary, northern BC coast, Canada. May 29, 2014.

There's at least a few things you can count on in life - taxes and death come to mind. And another "you-can-count-on-it" thing is that when a bear gets out of the water after swimming, it's going to shake like a dog! The trick in photographing one of these "shakers" is to somehow get in FRONT of the bear before it shakes (unless you're into shots of a wiggling bear's butt, not that there's anything wrong with that).

Many of the grizzlies of the Khutzeymateen are found in the estuary (which is at the head of the long Khutzeymateen inlet). That grassy estuary is carved up by many water-filled channels (that vary in width and depth depending on the state of the tide). Which means the grizzlies there end up spending a lot of time swimming - which in turn makes the Khutzeymateen an absolutely GREAT place to see and photograph shaking bears (as well as, of course, swimming bears).

Over the years I've photographed a LOT of shaking bears and in most cases I've experimented with slowish shutter speeds (in the 1/250 to 1/400 second range) in an effort to produce those hard-to-capture "freeze MOST of the action with some blurring of the fastest moving shaking parts" images. In 2014 I decided to depart from my past efforts of capturing those "freeze-blurs" and go for freezing the action. So I whenever a full body shake was a possibility I quickly readjusted my camera's shutter speed to be in the 1/1600 to 1/2000 range. Of course, getting to these shutter speeds often meant bumping up the ISO, but heck...I was using a D4s so who cares about ISO? ;-)

The results? Well, many were kinda fun - like this one. It's the kind of shot that the subject - which is a recently weaned 3-year old male bear - would probably cringe at if they viewed it (and they'd make you promise not to show anyone!). And, the image shows one thing that always amazes me - when a bear is eating grass and then moves on to do something else (like swimming and then shaking), they almost never lose the piece of grass that's in their mouth. After examining all the shots following this one (right through until AFTER the shake was completed) I can confirm you that the bear never lost that little blade of grass that was in its mouth, and it promptly swallowed it after the shaking was done!

For those interested in the detail only a high resolution version of the image can show (hey, ya gotta see the nose wrinkles) here's a higher resolution (2400 pixel) image for your scrutiny:

Shaking It Up: Download 2400 pixel image (JPEG: 1.4 MB)

NOTE 1: This image - in all resolutions - is protected by copyright. I'm fine with personal uses of it (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!

NOTE 2: Like all wildlife images on this website, the subject is fully wild and completely unconstrained. Besides the potential impact of my 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).

NOTE 3: This image was captured during one of my "Grizzlies of the Khutzeymateen" photo tour in the spring of 2014. Each year I offer trips into two different parts of the Great Bear Rainforest as well as one to photograph aquatic mammals and oceanscapes near the northern tip of Vancouver Island. And, in selected years, I also offer photo tours to locations to capture other highly sought-after subjects, such as various boreal owl species and wildlife of Canada's Arctic. Details about these trips can be found on the Photo Tours page of this website.

Behind the Camera

Shaking It Up! Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary, northern BC coast, Canada. May 29, 2014.

Digital Capture; Compressed RAW (NEF) 14-bit format; ISO 5600.

Nikon D4 paired with Nikkor AF-S 80-400mm f4.5-5.6 VR @ 220mm - hand-held from floating Zodiac. VR on in Active mode.

1/1600s @ f6.3; no compensation from "recommended" matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

Shaking It Up! Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary, northern BC coast, Canada. May 29, 2014.

RAW Conversion to 16-bit TIFF, including first-pass/capture sharpening using Phase One's Capture One Pro. Three raw variants (different versions of a single raw capture) processed, differing by a total of 0.8 stops in exposure.

Further digital corrections on resulting 16-bit TIFF files using Adobe's Photoshop CC and Light Crafts LightZone. Photoshop adjustments included compositing (blending) of the three output files from the raw converter, further slight exposure adjustments/tweaks, minor colour tweaks (including selective saturation and desaturation and minor hue rotations), and selective sharpening for web output. Final tweaking of tones performed using LightZone's "tonemapper" tool.

Conservation

Shaking It Up! Khutzeymateen Grizzly Sanctuary, northern BC coast, Canada. May 29, 2014.

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.

The region this image was shot in is, at the time of this writing (June 16, 2014), facing a new and potentially catastrophic threat. There is a proposal to bring oil super-tankers through the narrow and treacherous channels of the Great Bear Rainforest. Any mishap - such as the one that sunk the Queen of the North ferry on March 22, 2006 - could result in an oilspill with disasterous consequences.

*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