This was undoubtedly one of my favorite moments (of many) on my recent Alaskan Grizzly Bears photo tour!

We were photographing this particular bear in the late evening sun and I could see a special opportunity coming. In this instance there wasn’t a lot of time to provide my guests with more thorough instructions. I simply called a few quick commands to “move left, lie down – get as low as you can, underexpose by at least 2 – 3 stops, and be ready”. It all happened so quickly and although I hadn’t been able to explain fully, luckily my guests knew to trust me and they all did as I asked with no hesitation.

It was incredibly satisfying for me to then hear the “WOW’s” and gasps of excitement coming from each of them as they captured the image and saw the results on the back of their own cameras. It is exactly these moments that make our photo tours so inspiring for not only the guests, but for me as well.

What seemed to be a fairly average scene was easily turned into a truly magical moment of photographic success… The low angle put the bear directly in contrast to the shaded black trees behind it, and by underexposing this dropped detail out of almost everything except the halo of the bear’s fur. A little bit of a darkened gradient on the foreground was added in Lightroom during our post production session and the end results were spectacular. This was a totally unplanned moment but it reminded everyone to keep thinking outside the square, to see all angles and opportunities in front of them, and to stay creative and motivated with their photography. Seeing them all nail their own version of the image was such a huge buzz for me!

I’ve included the original angle below to show you the scene, and I’ve invited the guests to add their own photos – each a little different but all equally dramatic.

Nikon D810. Nikkor 300mm f4, ISO 500. f5 at 1/8000 second. Image copyright Chris McLennan

Original scene. Image copyright Chris McLennan

And some of my guest images:

Copyright Mike Sell

Copyright Nigel Perks

Copyright Roger Twilley

Copyright Dano Blanchard

Copyright Shikhar Dharamsey

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