Well, it’s been just over a week since I’ve arrived home from Alaska and I’ve finally sorted out and edited most of my brown bear images from Katmai National Park and Preserve. Bears are some of my favorite creatures on Earth and I love spending time and photographing them whenever possible. It was a magical five days in Katmai and I certainly need to thank some of those responsible for making it a great success.
First, Katmai Adventure Lodge was a great host and lodge. Please do check them out if you ever plan on visiting the area for bear viewing, photography, or fishing. Second, Chris Omer was a first rate, professional bear guide. We really couldn’t have lucked out any better with KAL assigning Chris to our group. Third, thanks to my students for making this a most enjoyable trip to the Alaskan wilderness. Fourth, a big thanks goes out to LensRentals for the complimentary use of some awesome telephoto lenses, including the new Canon EF 500mm f/4L IS II USM.
Now, on to the photos! In case you missed it, I posted a sequence called Life and Death in Katmai last week. Check it out if you haven’t already seen it. The following are not necessarily the best images from the trip, but they are a good sample of what we experienced in Katmai.
On the last morning of our photography tour, I had our group experiment with longer shutter speeds while panning the camera.
Here is an impressive stare down by a very large, very wet Katmai brown bear. It’s one of my favorites, not only because of the eye-to-eye glare, but the streaming water droplets as he/she just emerges from the river.
At nearly every stop we made, there was a gracious welcoming party. This is the greeting we received after landing near the mouth of Margot Creek.
A challenge? No, probably just trying to get a better look at the group of strange creatures on the opposite side of the river. Despite having a reputation for bad eyesite, a bear’s vision is actually equivalent to that of humans.
These bears possess an impressive array of skills: speed, power, agility, coordination, and dexterity. Catching a wild salmon in a river or stream of any size and depth is much more difficult than it looks. I know. I tried it!
The role that tremendous salmon runs have on Katmai’s entire ecosystem cannot be overstated. Nearly everything, directly or indirectly, depends on their arrival from the sea – and their death – every summer.
As I said earlier, this is harder than it looks. It doesn’t always come off as graceful, but more often than not, they emerge from the water victorious.
Moraine Creek, deep in Katmai’s wilderness, is bear heaven. At one point, I could count 14 bears along the river, at one time, while standing in this very spot.
This is one of biggest bears I saw all week. Despite its immense size and power, his fishing techniques were effortless and carried out with surgical precision. Between shooting the occasional image, I just watched with awe as he caught and ate one salmon after another for hours.
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