Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

Young Eagle on Late Autumn Morning

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In the Field

Young Eagle on Late Autumn Morning. Chilkat River, Alaska, USA. November 24, 2016.

I captured this immature eagle "enviroscape" shot in late November of 2016. It's the kind of scene that appeals to that shows an animal fairly small in the frame but within it's chosen habitat (but still done in such a way that the subjects still strongly draws the viewer's attention).

While I did use a fairly lengthy "total" (or effective) focal length to capture the shot (a 500mm f4 lens on a D500, yielding an effective focal length - or EFL - of 750mm), I did have the option of going with an even longer focal length. But, if I did so, I would have lost a lot of the snag pile the eagle was perched on, including the base of the snag to the left that points directly at the eagle (leading lines anyone?). I did check out a longer focal length option before I shot this version of the shot, but having that second snag emerging from "nowhere" (out of the side of the frame) just didn't work visually for me...

This is also the kind of shot I love to shoot with a prime lens. With the right zoom lens (such as the Sigma Sport 150-600mm) I could have framed the shot identically AND isolated the subject almost as well (at 500mm the widest aperture of the Sigma Sport is f6.3 whereas this shot was captured with an aperture of f5.6). But...the quality of the background (including its smoothness) would have fallen off just a little. If I was just trying to document the existence of the eagle (or that I saw it in a particular location) that little bit of difference probably wouldn't matter. But to anal wildlife photographers like does! ;-)

Here's a larger (2400 pixel) version of this beautiful young eagle:

Young Eagle on Late Autumn Morning: Download 2400 pixel image (JPEG: 0.8 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 while sussing out a new area for possible inclusion in a future photo tour. As of this writing (March 18, 2017) it is LIKELY that it will be added to the 2017 Photo Tour schedule - final decision will be made by the end of April 2017. Keep an eye on the Photo Tours page of this website for more details...

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/luring devices (including vocalizations or other sounds).

Behind the Camera

Young Eagle on Late Autumn Morning. Chilkat River, Alaska, USA. November 24, 2016.

Digital Capture; Compressed RAW (NEF) 14-bit format; ISO 900.

Nikon D500 paired with Nikkor 500mm f4G VR lens (EFL of 750mm). Hand-held. VR on and in "Normal" mode.

1/400s @ f5.6; No compensation from "recommended" matrix-metered exposure setting

At the Computer

Young Eagle on Late Autumn Morning. Chilkat River, Alaska, USA. November 24, 2016.

RAW Conversion to 16-bit TIFF using Phase One's Capture One Pro 10. Four raw variants (different versions of a single raw capture) processed, with the variants differing in exposure settings (0.4 stop total difference between the variants), shadow recovery, highlight retrieval, and noise reduction settings.

Further digital corrections on resulting 16-bit TIFF files using Adobe's Photoshop CC 2017 and Light Crafts Lightzone. Photoshop adjustments included compositing (blending) of the four output files from the raw converter, minor saturation adjustment, minor selective contrast adjustment (selective curves adjustment layer), and final selective sharpening for web output. Final tone-tweaking performed using LightZone's "tonemapper" tool.


Young Eagle on Late Autumn Morning. Chilkat River, Alaska, USA. November 24, 2016.

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).

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 one of Canada's most unique ecosystems - The Great Bear Rainforest. 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