Photographer Richard Hill describes this wild turkey image as a “yin/yang in battle, partially due to the physical shape of the two battling turkeys, and in the dualistic nature of battle and all that it implies.” Photo: Richard Hill

Richard Hill’s bird photographs at the Nelson library

‘Big and Small: Birds Found in the West Kootenay’ is on display through June

Technical expertise meets the perfection of nature in a new exhibition at the Nelson Public Library. Big and Small: Birds Found in the West Kootenay is a photographic exhibition by Richard Hill that asks us to slow down and appreciate our avian neighbours. The work is on display at the Nelson Public Library through May and June.

Hill is a busy guy. The owner-operator of High Five Maintenance spends much of his time trouble-shooting the mechanics of the city’s buildings and not nearly enough time, he says, out of doors. But he makes sure that his time spent in nature counts, and, naturally, mechanics play a role — in this case, the mechanics of photography.

“F-stops, shutter speed, depth of field, ISO, white balance, the optics, and how to apply them all in each situation and understand the outcome,” he says, are the mechanical considerations that offer endless possibilities for creating the perfect image. “Because of the complex mechanics of the digital camera and the amazing optics we have today, a bird can be captured in flight at 1/2000 of a second and thus provide far more detail than one could ever clearly see with the naked eye.”

But it’s the subject itself that provides the spark for Hill. “It’s the combination of mechanics, technique, and connection to nature that, at this point in my life, I find extremely satisfying,” he says.

The eight stunning images in the Library exhibition are printed on canvas and include birds as small and exquisite as the rufous hummingbird and as imposing as a bald eagle. Every feather is in focus on a photograph of a dark-eyed junko; wild turkey toms battle for dominance. For Hill, every encounter is special.

“It’s this connection with nature that gives me so much. Whether I capture a worthy photo or not is secondary. The gift is just in participating.”

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