One of my main goals last year, photographically, was to shoot more ‘bears in the landscape’ style shots; images such as this one were what I was really after. Of course, that doesn’t mean I would pass up an opportunity to fill the frame with a bear like this, either.
This kind of image is all about the bear; power, size and vitality. The bears in the landscape speak a little more about place. Fascinating subject, place.
I just got back from a trip to Denali National Park and Preserve, where I spent some time in a cabin in the woods, by a fire, trying to stay warm. The day we skied in to the park, the temperatures plummeted, from the 0 to – 5 degreeF range to minus 40 and minus 45. The experience of the Alaska backcountry at that kind of temperature is something else.
It was a cool experience, hanging out with my friend, Erik DeLuca, music composer from Virginia, while he concentrated on doing some soundscape recordings and trying his best to experience a ‘sense of place’ in a landscape like this. We chatted a lot about what that means, what it does for us, and why it might be important. I commandeered Erik’s book, “Place: A Short Introduction“, (author: Tim Cresswell) and read over it during the long dark nights. It’s interesting stuff. Continue reading
By now, all going according to plan, I should be almost getting back from the Katmai National Park Grizzly Bear Photo Tour; here’s an image from last year’s tour, just in case we don’t have much luck this fall. 3 gorgeous young cubs slipping down to water’s edge for a look around, before slinking back to the forest.
Next photo should be from 2011. See ya soon.
So while I’m off in Katmai photographing the bears, I’ll schedule a post or 2 from the summer. Here’s a shot of Mt. Sanford not long after sunrise one gorgeous sunny fall morning. What a view!
There’s probably no reason to post this photo other than it seems like a good time to post another grizzly bear photo.
This event was quite possibly one of the highlights of the 2 weeks in Katmai National Park last year, on the grizzly bear photo tour. We actually saw 2 separate sows each with 4 cubs on several occasions, which was pretty neat. But the chance to watch all 4 bear cubs nurse at once was a special treat indeed.
It’s pretty amazing how much noise the cubs make nursing on the sow. They growl and spat and purr all at once.
The mother, the sow, was pretty mellow, just kinda laid back and watched us photographers, wondering what all the fuss was about. It was definitely her most restful time of the day; the rest of her waking moments were spent hellbent chasing salmon up and down the river. Feeding 4 hungry cubs is a big job for a single mom.
What a great moment to witness.
So, another year drips by, eh? And what a year it’s been! The Arctic National Wildlife Refuge, Katmai National Park, Denali National Park, Wrangell-St. Elias National Park, etc, etc; Alaska is simply an amazing place to explore.
My favorite photo trip this year was undoubtedly the Grizzlies in the Fall Photo Tour. That being the case, I’ve selected my “photos of the year” from that trip. 2 great weeks of grand grizzly bears in Katmai National Park and Preserve, amidst the beauty of fall in Alaska. Unbeatable! Continue reading
This is a sow grizzly bear, or brown bear as they’re often (and correctly) called. She had 4 cubs, and worked hard (I mean, REALLY hard) to feed them all. Whenever I saw her fishing, she was 100%.
Most other adult bears rarely race around chasing salmon; they tend to walk up and down the river, either in the water or along the banks, and look for an easier dinner. Conserving energy is the name of their game.
This sow, with 4 extra hungry mouths to feed, was constantly running and racing through the water, chasing fish every which way. And if she saw another, smaller bear catch a fish nearby, she’d race after that bear, too, trying to force it to drop it’s catch. Rarely did that method work for her, but she never quit trying. Continue reading
Here’s a young spring bear cub photo from the recent photo trip I led to Katmai National Park and Preserve. This youngster had 3 siblings, and it was a real treat to get to see them play and tumble together. Catching a photo of one by himself, without the others in the frame, was more difficult than one might guess it would be.
Last year, for some reason, there were not too many spring cubs in the area at all, but this year the area was home to quite a few. They’re such a blast to photograph, and oh-so charismatic. Each has his/her own character, and some of them are unbelievably plucky little critters. We watched one take quite a dunking from his mother, after he tried to steal a salmon from her. She grabbed him in her mouth, shook him back and forth like a rag doll, and literally buried him in the river. I thought ‘well, that’ll teach the little guy a lesson’ – Hardly! He came up growling louder than before, grabbed the fish in his mouth, and took off with it before his mother could even snap at him. They’re just way too cute!
These little baby bears are born in the dark of winter, tiny and defenseless. Their mothers-to-be enter a den in late fall, usually anywhere from late October through November. Brown bears almost always enter their den during a snow storm, or immediately before a snow storm. The theory most folks ascribe to is the snow storm will cover both the entrance and the tracks leading to the den, hiding both the bear and the den’s location.
Late January or early February, though sometimes as late as March, the cubs are born, blind and virtually helpless. Continue reading