Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

Rainforest Realities

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In the Field

Rainforest Realities. Great Bear Rainforest (central BC coast), Canada. September 24, 2016.

This image reveals at least two rainforest realities. First, if you're a bear who depends on salmon to help you bulk up for your winter hibernation, then you're going to have to accept that you'll be fishing in the rain. And, if you're a wildlife photographer hoping to photograph fishing bears in the rainforest,'re going to have to accept that you'll be shooting in the rain! ;-)

When I was a rainforest rookie doing my first trip into the Great Bear Rainforest over a decade ago I was like many photographers - I was REALLY hoping we could avoid the rain. Well...the reality was we couldn't. But, before long, I came to REALLY enjoy almost everything about shooting in the rain, including the muted lighting and colors and the subtle textures that revealed themselves. At the same time I began to really enjoy the "reality" of the scenes - this IS the environment that the bears (and other wildlife) have chosen to live in. No, you won't come away with sunny-day "happy shots", but if you enjoy capturing mood and feeling...well...gear yourself up for shooting in the rain!

One of the key parts of "gearing up" for shooting in the rain is ensuring you have adequate protection for your gear. Over the last decade I have repeatedly seen folks travel into the rainforest lugging along tens of thousands of dollars of camera gear, but showing reluctance to spend much more than ten bucks to protect that gear! Green garbage bags - or clear plastic covers with string "cinches" - may suffice as "protection" for a 5 minute rain shower in the desert, but if you're going to a temperate rainforest I'd highly recommend investing in some quality rain gear, like the rain covers offered by Think Tank Photo or AquaTech. You won't regret it!

Here's a larger (2400 pixel) version of this rainy, moody shot of rainforest realities:

Rainforest Realities: Download 2400 pixel image (JPEG: 1.49 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 one of my autumn "Into the Great Bear Rainforest" photo tours in 2016. Each year I offer trips into two different parts of the Great Bear Rainforest as well as one to photograph marine mammals and oceanscapes near the northern tip of Vancouver Island. And, in selected years, I also offer photo tours to additional locations to capture other highly sought-after subjects, such as various boreal owl species, fishing grizzlies, and more. Details about these trips 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/luring devices (including vocalizations or other sounds).

Behind the Camera

Rainforest Realities. Great Bear Rainforest (central BC coast), Canada. September 24, 2016.

Digital Capture; Compressed RAW (NEF) 14-bit format; ISO 2800.

Nikon D500 paired with Nikkor 400mm f2.8E VR plus TC-14EIII (1.4x) teleconverter (for an EFL of 825mm). Supported on Really Right Stuff TVC-24 tripod with a Jobu Jr. 3 Deluxe gimbal head. VR on and in "Sport" mode.

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

At the Computer

Rainforest Realities. Great Bear Rainforest (central BC coast), Canada. September 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 (1.0 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, and final selective sharpening for web output. Final tone-tweaking performed using LightZone's "tonemapper" tool.


Rainforest Realities. Great Bear Rainforest (central BC coast), Canada. September 24, 2016.

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

Species Status in Canada**: Not currently listed as Threatened or Endangered.

This black bear is a member of the subspecies "Kermodei" (Ursus americana kermodei). This subspecies is unique in that the population is characterized by having an unusually high proportion of a recessive gene that produces white coat colour (found on the "Spirit Bears"). Because the Black Bear is not considered under threat as a species, both the Kermodei subspecies and the very rare Spirit Bear suffer from having the same conservation designation (it should be acknowledged that in British Columbia - the jurisdiction of greatest Spirit Bear abundance - hunting of these white-coated bears is not permitted). For reasons that are not fully understood, the Spirit Bear occurs with greater frequency in a relatively small geographic area within The Great Bear Rainforest of the central and northern coast of British Columbia. In this area 10 to 30% of the bears possess white coats. Many of the black-coloured Black Bears in this region carry the gene for white coats, so allowing hunting of ANY Black Bears in this region can reduce the frequency of the gene for white coats. Thus, to protect the Spirit Bear, it is necessary to prohibit the hunting of ALL Black Bears in this region. And, very unfortunately, the globally unique ecosystem that contains the Spirit Bear is under development pressure, especially from the forestry industry. If this unique environment is altered, we may lose the wonderful genetic anomaly known as the Spirit Bear forever.

*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