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How to photograph Brown Bears in Alaska

Posted in: Alaska


How to get the best photographs of female brown bears in Alaska, when you are at high latitudes and face nearly 20 hours of sunshine?

This was the photographic challenge we faced when visiting Lake Clark national park, Alaska in July 2016. It didn't help that we experienced a mini heat wave during our stay. We couldn't believe how intense the sun still was at 7.00pm and even when we changed our schedule to photograph from 8-10pm after dinner; it was really only the last 1 hour where the light softened sufficently for quality images. This was often the time when the female bears and their cubs were found on the sand bars (depending on tides obviously!) looking for a tasty seafood snack to supplement their predominantly sedge grass diet. Not only does the 'clamming' behaviour of brown bears present some interesting action and behavioural photography, it also allows some creativity; especialy with a suitable wide angle lens. We looked for reflection shots on the recently exposed shoreline, as well as wide angle shots of the bears crossing this vast landscape, dominated by snow capped mountains, estuaries full of returning salmon and huge tidal mudflats. During that last golden hour you hoped one of your photographs would capture the magic of this beautiful landscape and these amazing apex predators who call it home.

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