Ground Pod Bear Photography
The best piece of camera equipment that I took on my bear photography trip to Alaska was my ground pod. If you follow my blog or on Facebook, you know that I love to use my ground pod for getting low to take shorebird photos. Never dreamed that I’d get the opportunity to take grizzly bear photos from a ground pod.
A few weeks prior to our trip to Alaska, we had a zoom call with our workshop leader and he described the mudflats at Lake Clark. When I asked him if I should take my ground pod, he said yes. Best advice in the world on this trip. Only used my tripod once but used my ground pod on a daily basis. The mudflats looked just like Bolivar only much larger, better backgrounds and with bears on it.
This first photo is a cell phone shot by our outstanding guide and very good photographer from Silver Salmon Creek Lodge, Dave Rasmus. Mom and her cub were working their way toward us while 3 of our group, along with Dave, were standing up taking photos and I’m the one laying down with my ground pod just shooting away. In this photo, I had already turned my camera vertical so they were getting close @ 500mm, see the 3rd photo below.
This next photo is almost full frame when they were walking towards me. Mom was off to my left but I maintained focus on the cub as he was adorable, although those claws could do some serious damage.
1/1600 @ F11, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +2/3 exposure compensation, 500mm from ground pod
As he got closer, here is where I rotated my camera on my gimbal head to the vertical position to help try to keep him in the frame. He ended up getting very close before the guide turned him around by talking to him. Mom was a ways away and couldn’t have cared less about us.
1/1600 sec @ F11, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, 500mm, uncropped from ground pod
Mom later walked by and showed off her claws in this full frame/uncropped photo. Off the charts fantastic experience for sure. Wouldn’t try this anywhere but this location where we had a very experienced guide with bear spray that knows their behavior, the bears are used to people, we aren’t in their food chain, people don’t hunt/harass them.
1/800 sec @ F11, ISO 1600, evaluative metering, +1 exposure compensation, 500mm, uncropped from ground pod
While a photo is supposed to stand on its own to tell a story, I think the backstory really brings home what these photos are all about…being one with nature. Great job.
June 30, 2021 at 7:26 am
That had to be an awesome experience! Thanks for sharing the photos!
June 30, 2021 at 5:50 pm
Thanks Doug! Thousands of photos and thousands of stories to tell from this trip.
June 30, 2021 at 7:05 pm
Thank you very much Lea! I’m still having trouble with wrapping my head around how amazing this adventure was. Really glad that I’ve got photos to document the journey.
June 30, 2021 at 7:07 pm
Absolutely amazing work you do.
Thank you. I’m happy to enjoy your photos and read of your experiences, because I’d be digging myself a hole if I was that close to a bear again. A black/brown bear was unexpectedly next to me when I was age 10, and that was enough! Your photos are beautiful!
July 1, 2021 at 4:32 pm
Thank you very much Diane. Can’t imagine the experience you had. This was a much more controlled experience for sure.
July 3, 2021 at 8:09 am
Wow! That looks awfully close.
July 5, 2021 at 4:41 pm
Thanks Daniel! They were very close at times. Wouldn’t want to try this with any inland grizzly bears, which are not as well fed as the coastal bears and have to be more opportunistic with their food. These bears have plenty of food with the protein enriched grass, clams and salmon so we aren’t in their food chain. Plus they are used to having people around that do not feed them or harass them. Our experienced guide has been doing this for 11 years and can read their behavior and will have us back-out of a situation or use his bear spray if needed. Although, he has never had to use his bear spray.
July 5, 2021 at 7:24 pm