Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

Rainforest Guardian

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In the Field

Rainforest Guardian. Great Bear Rainforest (northern BC coast), BC Canada. October 6, 2014.

Happily, finding an opportunity to photograph a Bald Eagle is no longer a rare event - for decades now their populations have been rebounding. It seems shocking today that back in 1917 there were so many Bald Eagles in Alaska that a bounty of 50 cents was placed on each eagle killed. That bounty grew to $2 in 1949 before it was over-turned in 1952. Over 152,000 Bald Eagles were killed - and bounties paid on them - between 1917 and 1952.

Of course, once we got rid of bounties we found a more nefarious (and effective) way to get rid of those pesky Bald Eagles - just use DDT as a pesticide and it will automatically lower the reproduction of Bald Eagles (and other species high up the food chain)! The effect of DDT on birds of prey was, of course, accidental - and once we figured out the problem DDT was banned. But not before Bald Eagles had become endangered in the US. Since the banning of DDT, Bald Eagles have become one of those rare conservation success stories - their numbers have bounced back and seeing one is no longer a rare event. But it's still a special event!

Within BC's Great Bear Rainforest Bald Eagles are downright common. But, they remain incredibly photogenic. And, in the Great Bear, they often end up placing themselves in positions and settings that are downright spectacular. In this shot, it was actually the beauty of the tree that first attracted my interest - the eagle just happened to add a nice accent and scale to this photograph of a tree! ;-)

I shot this image while hand-holding Nikon's latest version of the 400mm f2.8 VR lens (the "E" version) when it was paired with their latest 1.4x teleconverter (the TC-14EIII). While I've never been the biggest fan of teleconverters, I have to say that the pairing of the new 400 and the new TC can produce results that can even keep the most ardent pixel-peeper happy!

This is one where there is SO much delectable detail in the tree that it has to been seen in higher res (and/or larger) form to be appreciated - so here's a 2400 pixel version of it for you to view:

Rainforest Guardian: Download 2400 pixel image (JPEG: 3.0 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 "Into the Great Bear Rainforest" photo tours in the autumn 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

Rainforest Guardian. Great Bear Rainforest (northern BC coast), BC Canada. October 6, 2014.

Digital Capture; Compressed RAW (NEF) 14-bit format; ISO 1800.

Nikon D4s paired with Nikkor AF-S 400mm f2.8E VR plus 1.4x TC-14EIII teleconverter (550mm total magnification) - hand-held from moving Zodiac inflatable boat. VR on in Sport mode.

1/640s @ f7.1; -1.0 stop compensation from "recommended" matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

Rainforest Guardian. Great Bear Rainforest (northern BC coast), BC Canada. October 6, 2014.

RAW Conversion to 16-bit TIFF, including first-pass/capture sharpening and slight colour tweaking using Phase One's Capture One Pro 7. Four raw variants (different versions of a single raw capture) processed, differing by a total of 0.7 stops in exposure.

Further digital corrections on resulting 16-bit TIFF files using Adobe's Photoshop CC 2014 and Light Crafts Lightzone. Photoshop adjustments included compositing (blending) of the four output files from the raw converter, selective colour desaturation, slight exposure tweaking, slight selective contrast adjustments and selective sharpening for web output. Final tone-tweaking performed using LightZone's "tonemapper" tool.


Rainforest Guardian. Great Bear Rainforest (northern BC coast), BC Canada. October 6, 2014.

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

Species Status in Canada*: This species is not designated as at risk. The Bald Eagle was listed as "Endangered" in the contiguous US states from 1967 to 1995. In 1995 it was downlisted to "Threatened". On June 28, 2007 Bald Eagles were removed from the list of endangered and threatened species - a true American conservation success story.

The Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) is a very large bird of prey with broad wings. Adults possess characteristic white ("bald") heads. It takes Bald Eagles a full five years to attain their characteristic adult plumage (including their nearly pure white head and tail). In the years prior to the development of their adult plumage they are easy to confuse with Golden Eagles. Being very broad-winged Bald Eagles are able to use an energy-efficient flapping-soaring style of flight. While many people like to think of the Bald Eagle as a fierce hunter, in reality they hunt only as a last resort. More commonly they scavenge for their prey. Additionally, they often klepto-parasitize other weaker species such as Osprey, commonly stealing the other species hard-earned prey items. The Bald Eagle is, of course, the national emblem of the United States (Benjamin Franklin argued against this - his preference was for the Wild Turkey).

This Bald Eagle was photographed in the heart of the Great Bear Rainforest. While Bald Eagles are currently not under the threat of extinction, they do, of course, require suitable breeding habitat to continue to thrive. 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