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Ninja Cub

Coastal brown bear cub about to go full ninja on his mom at Lake Clark Alaska.  Mom was doing her best to keep him calm.  It was a blast to watch these two play.

1/800 @ F11, ISO 3200, evaluative metering, +1 2/3 exposure compensation, 500mm from Skimmer ground pod, uncropped

Published Again in PetaPixel.com

PetaPixel.com published my airshow photo along with my words about why I liked this photo. It’s toward the end of this article. Thanks again PetaPixel!

https://petapixel.com/2021/08/22/great-reads-in-photography-august-22-2021/

Clam Tasting Close-up

Here is a very close-up shot of an adult female coastal brown bear (grizzly) eating a clam at Lake Clark Alaska. The bears make their way out to the mudflats at low tide when they smell the clams. The tides are intense as they rise/fall 17 ft so when it starts coming in you had better get to higher ground.

1/800 sec @ F11, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, uncropped @ 500mm from Skimmer ground pod.

Published in PetaPixel.com

Got published yesterday on the photography & camera news website PetaPixel after my ground pod photo was published in Audubon. Was contacted by one of their columnists recently requesting usage of my photo and looking for one of me in action with my ground pod.

He then contacted me later about using another one of my photos including some writing from me on why I like that photo. Stay tuned for that in Sept.

Thanks again Phil for the opportunity.

https://petapixel.com/2021/08/15/great-reads-in-photography-august-15-2021/

Bear Rug

Coastal brown bear take a break and rests on mom

Lake Clark Alaska

1/2500 sec @ F13, ISO 2500, evaluative metering, +1 1/3 exposure compensation, 500,, handheld, full frame with pano crop

Close Encounters of the Bear Kind

This photo sequence was a major adrenalin rush to say the least.  One of my favorite bear encounters of my most awesome Alaskan adventure in Lake Clark Alaska with coastal brown bears.

Started out with mom and her cub playing near the shoreline. 

Following his typical behavior, the cub took off running and he ran right past us.  Tracked him while lying in the mud with my ground pod and got off a few shots while he gave me the side-eye.

Thought that was very cool experience but it got really interesting when mom decided to chase him.  Glanced back to my right and saw mom coming my way.  Didn’t have time to get worried or think but just react.

My years of experience with shooting from a ground pod came in very handy and quickly pivoted around on my stomach and focused on her as she “beared“ down on us.  Mom was doing her “happy run” with swinging her head from side to side, which is a behavior that we witnessed several times that week.

Just follow your nose….

Very little time to react as this entire sequence with mom lasted only 4 seconds.  Was challenging to try to keep her in the frame.  Major rush…

She kept getting closer…

and closer…

and closer!

Then, direct eye contact with a full size grizzly bear as she runs past me. Doesn’t get much better than that. Didn’t know that I got this shot until getting home and downloading my photos to the computer. Couldn’t take my laptop with me due to the bush plane weight restrictions.

She kept going and I kept shooting…

She kept running past us with this being the last frame that I captured in this series. Just wow!

Another one of those once in a lifetime encounters on this trip that I kept having and must repeat.

Grand Slam in 2021 Audubon Top 100

Four of my photos made the top 100 this year in Audubon’s 2021 photo contest. Although 2020 was a very challenging year from a pandemic perspective, it challenged me to get out an shoot more with over 60 local field trips, which paid off in the Audubon contest.

Great egret in silhouette through her breeding plumage from High Island TX rookery

White moph reddish egret spreading its wings just after landing at Bolivar Flats Audubon Shorebird Sanctuary last summer.

Two lesser yellowlegs running in unison at Bolivar Flats Audubon Shorebird Sanctuary.

American avocets at Bolivar Flats Audubon Shorebird Sanctuary.

Up Close & Personal with Grizzly Bears

By day 4 of my trip to Lake Clark Alaska, we were all getting worn out so when we came upon mom and her cub feeding on grass in an open meadow, we decided to lay up against a log on the outside edge of the field and just watch them. Was very relaxing and we loved the opportunity to not shoot but just to chill out and take it all in. We were sitting in a field watching grizzly bears with snowcapped mountains in the background. We weren’t in Kansas (or Houston) anymore Dorthey. Couldn’t get much better than that…until it did!

A male boar entered the field behind mom and she quickly spotted him. She then turned to look at us, foreshadowing her next steps. Mom and her cub quickly got up to check him out. Here is where it got really interesting. As a complete surprise to me, mom started running with her cub directly towards us. That definitely got me to sit up a little straighter against that log and get into the zone while hand holding my 500mm lens.

So, what do you do when a full-size grizzly bear and her cub come running straight at you? Well, #1 you listen to your guide, #2 you don’t run (which could be very detrimental to your health), #3 you keep your cool and photograph the incoming bears or #4 be prepared to change your shorts. Luckily, I followed steps #1 -3.

When they started getting close, couldn’t keep both of them in the frame with my 500mm lens so I automatically switched to focus on the cub.

It happened so quickly that there was no time to think or check/change any camera settings. Was all muscle memory at that point with trying to get part of them in the frame. Would have been nice to have F16 being that close but was happy that I had at least F11 for some depth of field.

Mom got so close at one point that I couldn’t get her whole head in the frame.

The cub walked past us to our left and then looked back towards the boar, giving me a great opportunity for a full frame head shot.

They kept moving off to our left and out into the field. Eventually they made their way towards the mudflats while the male made a slow walk to their previous location to check out her scent. Our guide said that they got about 12 ft from us and were using us for protection as the male would not typically come close to us. One of my favorite unforgettable bear encounters in Alaska.

Taken with Canon 1DX III, Canon 500mm F4 IS II, handheld, uncropped

Bear Thievery

The beginning of the eagle saga starts when the cub takes off running and flies by us and out towards the water. Mom then takes off after him and shows us her happy run when she would swing her head around.

The cub had found a bald eagle on a kill and was making a b-line for it. More to come…

The cub catches some air with all four feet off of the ground as he picks up speed. Had no clue on where he was going at this point.

Spun around on my stomach with my ground pod to capture him in partial silhouette as he hit max Q.

Mom followed him and was giving us her happy dance run when she would swing her head back and forth. A very happy bear once she figured out where junior was going to.

The cub was running to take away a fish that the bald eagle had caught.

Eagle Eyes

My wish list for Alaska included seeing some bald eagles, if possible. Never in my wildest dreams would have imagined that I would be getting full frame eagle shots from my ground pod as this one landed on the mudflats right in front of me!

Absolutely blew my mind, which didn’t take much at that point as my mind had already been blown by 3 days of bear photography.

He wasn’t interested in us at all as he had bears on his mind. More to this story coming later…

1/2000 sec @ F11, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1/3 exposure compensation, 500mm from ground pod

Lift off which was a challenge to keep him in the frame as he was so close.

Bear fly-by but he will return