I’m not sure that I like this image as much as the other wide-angle brown bear image that I shared the other day, but what I do like is that this was created on a rare sunny day on the Katmai Coast. I’ve got a lot of images of bears in the rain with a telephoto lens. Yawn. I think that wide-angle images showing bears in their environment are much more interesting. Obviously, photographing bears like this requires a lot of effort in the field and being very close to bears. I do not encourage anyone without experience around bears to try creating images like this. However, many of the bears on the outer coast of Katmai National Park are not afraid of humans and under most conditions, do not perceive us as threats. It was a privilege to be so close to these wild animals. I created this image using my Canon 5DmkII, 17-40mm f4 lens, and Singh-Ray 2-stop Hard GND filter. I remotely triggered the camera using 2 PocketWizards, but I was sitting not too far to away. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
“Who’s a happy bear?” That is what I would say to a big-old male brown bear who was sitting by the river during my expedition to the Katmai Coast last August. The bears always seemed so casual as they waited for salmon to pretty much swim into their mouths. I spent a lot of time watching them sleep with one eye open, which doesn’t make for a great picture. However, every once in a while one would “do something”, like this bear sitting on its haunches itching a nagging scratch. I got down really low to the ground with my camera in order to render the distant trees as pleasing bokeh. I created this image with my Canon 7D and 500mm f4 IS lens. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
I photographed this brown bear backlit at sunrise while visiting Kukak Bay on the outer coast of Katmai National Park last August. Kukak Bay is geographically oriented from east to west, so early morning light illuminates the bay whenever the sky is clear, which is not that often. In most cases, I prefer to photograph my subjects with front or side light, but this image is a good example of shooting into the light. I shudder to think what some HDR advocates would do to this beautiful silhouette. This large male brown bear was one of several that were wandering the tidal flats at low tide that morning. I kept thinking how casually the bears appeared to lumber along the shore, until I tried to keep up with them. I created this image with my Canon 7D and 500mm f4 IS lens. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
As I have made progress editing my extensive backlog of unedited images, I have been discovering many wonderful photos like this one that have until recently been confined to my hard-drives. This image was created on my Katmai Coast expedition last August, during which I was able to photograph brown bears at very close range. This wide-angle image is a good example of what I mean. I love how this bear is casually strolling along the river’s shore and not paying any attention to my camera which I remotely triggered with a PocketWizard. The light was also really nice as this was one of the few nice weather days that I experienced during the entire trip. And just in case you are wondering, I was sitting on top of the rocks on the left side of the picture. I created this image using my Canon 5DmkII, 17-40mm f4 lens, and Singh-Ray 2-stop Hard GND filter. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
I spent 3 long days attempting to photograph brown bears fishing underwater while visiting Kuliak Bay. I did not succeed. However, I had 6 opportunities where a bear sniffed the back of my underwater camera rather than the front. If I were a cartoon, I would have had one of those bubbles over my head with something like !@#$%^&%$#@* inside. Oh, well, I can try again in a few years. With my underwater camera positioned in the river all day, I took a lot of pictures of the salmon swimming in front of it. This is my favorite image of the mostly pink salmon with a few sockeye mixed in. I really like the reflection of the salmon on the surface of the water as well as the beautiful green color. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII and 17-40mm f4 lens inside my Aquatech 5DmkII housing with a Aquatech 8″ wide-angle dome port which I remotely triggered with a PocketWizard in an Aquatech PocketWizard housing. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
This is my most successful wide-angle brown bear image from my August expedition to the Katmai Coast. I spent 4 days in Kuliak Bay trying unsuccessfully to photograph brown bears fishing underwater. For most of the day, my underwater camera system was submerged on a tripod with the PocketWizard antennae barely extending about the surface, but I had to pull it out of the river at high tide. While waiting for the tide to drop on my first full day ashore, I observed the bears fishing in the creek when the salmon migrated up to the lake at high tide. The next day, I decided to preposition my camera at the bottom of the falls before high tide and the arrival of the salmon and bears. It was nerve racking positioning my camera even though there were not any bears around at the time. They could emerge from the woods at any moment, so I quickly set it up next to some rocks and returned to the relative security of my viewing platform. This beautiful young bear was the first to arrive. Over the course of an hour, I observed this bear fishing and remotely triggered my camera every time that it appeared to be in front of my camera. Right before this moment, the bear caught the salmon on the far side of the creek. It then ran directly towards my camera with the fish in its mouth when it realized that there was a mother with 2 cubs coming down the creek from above. When I retrieved my camera several hours later, I was giddy with anticipation while reviewing the images and discovered this one was on my memory card. I created this image with my Canon 5DmkII and 17-40mm f4 lens inside my Aquatech 5DmkII housing with a Aquatech wide-angle flat port which I remotely triggered with a PocketWizard in an Aquatech PocketWizard housing. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
My August trip to the outer coast of Katmai National Park was pretty dangerous, but it allowed me to create some unique photos. I took my boat on the ferry from Homer to Kodiak and then used it to cross treacherous Shelikof Strait in order to spend several weeks living with the brown bears. I spent the entire trip as close to brown bears as anyone has ever been. This probably sounds insane to most people, but brown bears are not going to just run up to and eat you for no reason. However, they must be respected at all times. One of the new techniques that I employed was using PocketWizards to remotely trigger my cameras so that I could shoot wide-angle bear images. Guessing where to pre-position my cameras was the challenge, but I got better at it as learned the bear’s routines. While visiting Kuliak Bay, brown bears regularly walked past this location, so I placed one of my cameras on a tripod low to the ground and waited. I remotely triggered the camera whenever a bear walked in front of it. I created this image using my Canon 5DmkII, 17-40mm f4 lens, and Singh-Ray 2-stop Hard GND filter. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
I created this image while visiting Kukak Bay on the Katmai Coast in August. This brown bear was lazily sitting by the edge of a stream waiting for a salmon to swim past. Eventually, it sat up on its hind legs and yawned. When I saw this image on my camera’s LCD screen, I chuckled. I felt bad for the bear, since this was not the most flattering picture, but I doubt that the bear cares. The early morning golden light was an added bonus. I used my Canon 7D and 500mm f4 IS lens to photograph this moment. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.
At the end of August, I embarked on a dangerous expedition to the Katmai Coast to photograph brown bears. The trip required my friend Paul Souders & I to depart from Kodiak and cross the always treacherous Shelikof Strait using my 22′ C-Dory. There are safer and more expensive ways to visit the Katmai Coast, but none of these options would have allowed us to spend as much time so intimately with the bears. To say that I was scared when we entered the open ocean in less than ideal conditions is an understatement. However, we successfully motored across to our first destination, the spectacular Kukak Bay. After we anchored, we immediately set out for shore to walk amongst the bears. I’ve been around my fair share of bears, but nothing quite prepared me for spending the first day amongst them at such close range. I do not advise people to be foolhardy and run up to brown bears, but they are also not going to attack and eat you under most situations. For instance, this beautiful bore was waiting for a salmon and nonchalantly watched us as we set up our cameras and moved in close enough to take his picture. He drifted in and out of sleep as we observed him for several hours. I’ll share some images soon where he rolled on to his back and stretched, but this low and tight portrait is my favorite. In order to render the distant background pleasantly out-of-focus, I laid on the ground on my stomach to get as low as possible with my Canon 7D and 500mm f4 IS lens. I then waited for him to look straight into my lens whenever he opened his eyes. This image is a single-exposure which required minimal processing using Aperture 3 and Photoshop CS5.