Brown bear, Katmai National Park, Alaska.

Grizzly bear walking in a salmon River, Katmai National Park, Alaska.

A young brown bear (Ursus arctos) walks through a stream hunting for spawning Sockeye Salmon. Grizzly bear, or coastal brown bear, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Please click the image for a larger version of the photo.

Hey folks

5-6 more weeks and the bears are running around the woods again!!!

I’ll be in the woods for the coming week, but I thought I’d post a brown bear photo, and schedule a couple of other blog posts for while I’m gone.

Catching this young blonde colored brown bear in some nice light was quite a treat. That’s the benefit of spending time in the field. Most wildlife photography, it seems, is done in places where the subject is pretty much a given; places like Homer for bald eagles, Yellowstone for elk, Churchill for polar bears, and Katmai National Park and Preserve for grizzly bears, or brown bears. So what makes the differernce? Light.

The bears are there and perfectly photographable (unless you happen to go during the month of, say March). So really, the only thing to worry about is the light. And that comes with time. Even the gnarliest of storms dissipate. So sit out the rain and the wind and the sleet. Bring a good book to read (or 3), some warm clothes, and plenty of patience. Because regardless how hard you try in the flat grey light of a Katmai Storm, bears look better with some light shining on them – particularly if the bear is in or around water.

A 2 week trip is better than a 1 week trip, and a 3 week trip is better than a 2 week trip. The more time you give yourself in the field, the more chances you give yourself of being there at that moment, when cool things happen.

It’s hard for anyone to really score great bear photos on their first trip to a place like this. Any photo is better than no photo, so it’s tempting to shoot, shoot and shoot some more. But I think it’s better to sit and wait, save some creative juices for when things really happen. And then schedule a trip back again later. It doesn’t matter how many times you might have been to a place like Katmai; the bears are there, so that’s where the photos are. Go back, and go back again. And sooner or later, a nice young blond bear might walk into some sunshine.

Oh, and just to plug it one more time, I’ll be leading a brown bear photo tour this fall that you shouldn’t miss! Come on along.

Cheers

Carl

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