Natural Art: The Photography of Brad Hill

 
The Town Crier

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In the Field

The Town Crier. Northern Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. August 20, 2013.

This lone Steller Sea Lion was positioned high above the shoreline on a small island near the northern tip of Vancouver Island. A dense aggregation of sea lions were hauled out a few hundred meters away - but for some reason this guy separated himself from the group. When he sat up and opened his mouth and let loose he came across as the perfect lookout sentry. The only problem with this interpretation of the situation that, save for one loud and rather impolite belch, this guy was doing no vocalizing. So any analogy with being a sentry or including a reference to the similarity to a howling wolf is limited in its applicability!

A couple of things drew my eye to this scene. The first - before the sea lion opened its mouth - was the fascinating alternating coloured bands of rock. And, of course, it didn't hurt at all that the sea lion was positioned against the rock where he stood out the most (i.e., where there was the most contrast between the sea lion and background). When the sea lion did open its mouth the red/pink colour inside was amazingly strong (I haven't strengthened or enhanced the colour of the inside of the mouth at all). I was also strongly drawn to the colour relationships in this scene - the bulk of the rock is almost neutral in colour, but both the vegetation at the bottom of the frame (which is Fucus spp.) and the lichen on the rocks above the sea lion go well with the sea lion (and certainly don't fight - colourwise - with the subject). That's what I tend to call a harmonious colour palette - compliments solely of nature!

This is a shot that really benefits from being seen LARGE (there's great detail on the sea lion - through right down to the hairs on its upper lip). So here's a 2400 pixel high version for your perusal:

The Town Crier: 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: This image was captured during one of my "Humpbacks, Orcas, Sea Lions and More"" photo tours in the summer of 2013. This trip offers fantastic photo ops for Humpbacks, Orcas, Sea Lions, Sea Otters and more - along with great land- and seascapes. 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 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

The Town Crier. Northern Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. August 20, 2013.

Digital Capture; Compressed RAW (NEF) 14-bit format; ISO 800.

Nikon D4 paired with Nikkor 400mm f2.8 VR lens. Hand-held from a floating Zodiac inflatable boat (that in this case was being thrown around in swells). VR on and in "Normal" mode.

1/400s @ f6.3; no compensation from matrix-metered exposure setting.

At the Computer

The Town Crier. Northern Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. August 20, 2013.

RAW Conversion to 16-bit TIFF, including first-pass/capture sharpening using Capture One Pro version 7. Three raw variants (different versions of a single raw capture) processed, differing in total exposure by 0.67 stops.

Further digital corrections on resulting 16-bit TIFF files using Adobe's Photoshop CC. Photoshop adjustments included compositing (blending) of the four raw variants, with further selective tweaks to exposure and sharpening for web output.

Conservation

The Town Crier. Northern Vancouver Island, BC, Canada. August 20, 2013.

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

Species Status in Canada**: Special Concern (November 2003) - protected in Canada since 1970.

The Steller's Sea Lion (Eumetopias jubatus) is the largest of the sea-lions, and males can weigh up to a ton (females are considerably smaller and rarely weigh over 600 lb). Males compete among themselves for females, and successful males end up breeding with several females within their harem.

From the early 1900's through to the 1970's huge numbers of Steller's Sea-Lions were culled for their fur and to remove a competitor (for humans) for salmon. During that time approximately 55,000 sea lions were killed and the breeding population of BC was lowered to about 4,000 animals. Since the Steller Sea Lion first received protection in 1970 the population in the coastal waters of BC has grown to between 18,000 to 19,700 animals (7,600 or so of these are of breeding age).

*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