Posted by: cherylyoung | January 2, 2014

Day 18 Photograph A Wild Bear

Day 18 Photograph A Wild Bear

Most of my bear encounters have been too fleeting

for photographs.

Face to furry face on a trail.

I’m more likely to reach for my pepper spray than a tripod.

“cute, cubs, Winnie. Hold that snarl while I check the

light meter.”

Wild bears are generally hungry, self-protective, and

unnerved by humans.

Anyone contemplating  an outing to photograph wild

bears should consider the wise words of my friend,

wildlife photographer Thomas Kitchin:

“There’s no such thing as a old, dumb bear photographer.”

Though British Columbia has an estimated 16,000 grizzlies

and 80,000 to 100,000 black bears, there are a limited

number of accessible places where bears gather in good

number and will tolerate people gawking at them.

An Internet search of “bear watching B.C” turns up dozens

of companies running coastal tours, from Campbell River

to Prinec Rupert.

The Terrace area and Princess Royal and Gribbel islands are

known haunts of B.C’s white Kermode “spirit bears” and the

provincially protected Khutzeymateen Valley is famous as

Canada’s only grizzly sanctuary, but their relatively

remote north-coast locations put them beyond reach

of many bear viewers.

My favourite spot is Glendale Cove, a six-hour drive

up Vancouver Island from Telegraph cove, then a

two hour boat trip across Johnstone Strait to Knight

Inlet on the mainland.

My last trip there was back in the early digital days

of 3.0 megapixel point-and shoot cameras with lenses

that zoomed to a paltry 115 millimetres.

Now I’m headed back with a 600 millimetre lens

with a teleconverter to extend its reach 1.4 times,

mounted on a 10-megapixel Nikon DSLR.

  And I have expert instructions from another skilled

photographer friend,

Tim Fitzharris.

“For the most revealing and dramatic interpretation,

try to catch the subject looking into the light.

Fitzharris writes in his book National Qudubon

Society Guide to nature Photography.

“The eyes should be wide open, clearly illuminated, and

show a small. Twinkling, natural catchlight.

Ears should be fanned forward in curiosity rather

than laid back in fear or tilted askew”

At Glendale, where visitors can watch grizzlies at fairly

close range, anyone can snap a shot for the family album..

But trophy photos require greater knowledge of animal


“You’ve got to actually come enough times sto that you

can predict what a bear’s about to do.”advises

H howard Pattison of Tide Rip Grizzly Tours.

Seasoned bear photographers know to begin clicking

the shutter when a big male grizzly hoists its massive

head from the water and shakes it furiously in a spray

of flying droplets.

Some of Pattison’s guides, photographers themselves,

offer helpful coaching to inexperienced bear shooters.

They recommend a lens of 300 millimetres although

most guys show up with all the ammo they’ve got”

From mid-May to mid-October, as many as 30 bears

inhabit Glendale cove.

Around the viewing stands onshore, the bears have grown

accustomed to people and often will walk right below

the photographers.

On my last trip to Glendale, we saw 17 grizzlies,

some just metres from the boat.

While photographers must stay aboard to get their shots,

it is sometimes possible to set a tripod in the mud flats

beside the boat for more stability.

When tides are right says Pattison. “we put the skiffs

in a side channel that’s in the shade, so wee

Re looking out with the sun behind us at the sunlit bears.

  It’s just perfect.

So, I’m ready now to get reacquainted with the

Glendale bears:  the Troll the one that lurks under a

bridge” Hummer, the bear that “sings”when he breaks

through the surface of the river” and tubby Panda

with his faithful sidekick, Raven.

When it comes to wildlife in  B.C this is my kind of shooting

Info:  Tide Rip Grizzly Tours  (250-339-5320






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