The Katmai brown bears series continues at the Brooks Falls fishing hole!
There are a lot of considerations that go into photographing these big furry creatures while they are fishing. First of all, they are far quicker than the your trigger finger. When they catch a fish, you need to be ready to snap that shot! And you better have your camera setting on a fast speed or else that bear will turn into a blurry mess.
At the same time, you have to consider the subject’s background. Do you want it in focus or out of focus? How is the quality of light? Is it sunny, cloudy, or raining? What direction is the light coming from? Front, side, back? Where are the shadows? Glare is coming off the water, so how much is it tricking the camera meter? Which lens should you use? Of course, the longer the telephoto, the more impact any motion will have on image sharpness. Adding to all the technical restrictions, you are literally wedged on a platform, elbow to elbow, with a multitude of other photographers. So you can’t move around for an optimum shot. The list goes on. What you see is what you get. Deal with it!
And as you are doing the mental gymnastics about all of those factors and making camera adjustments, those bears are not going to wait and pose for you. They don’t care if you get a good shot or not! They want their fish! The big boys at the Brooks Falls fishing hole were definitely a challenge to photograph. I was really pleased this particular image. It’s a tight shot and sharp. I was able to catch a straight-on position of both the bear and the fish. A viewer gets the impression of being right there in the water with the bear, perhaps located only an arm’s length or two away. The droopy ears and the overall soggy condition of the bear are downright comical. Drips of water cascading off of the bear and the fish help tell the story of how fast the action happened. The river beneath the falls is so turbulent that it foams. And the expression on the fish is priceless. This photo was one of my favorites of the bears.
Most of the time, I was mentally pleading with the bears to pose for me when they caught a fish. “Hey, mister bear! Turn around! Pretty please, with honey on top?” Not a chance. If they stood still for a millisecond, they would be pointed the other way. What to do? Take the picture anyway!
Ah, but then there were the scavenging bears. They would let the big boys do the hard work of fishing. After a salmon meal was finished, then a member of the cleanup crew would venture forth and compete with the seagulls to pick up the scraps. Now these fellows were easier to photograph! Can you see that this bear has some scars on his noggin from a previous tussle?
The next post in the series is a fishing tale!