Here are a couple of interesting facts for you:
A single adult grizzly bear in Alaska can weigh up to 800kgs in prime condition – that’s about the combined weight of the All Blacks forward pack…
During the summer season and the height of the salmon run these huge bears eat around 40kg of salmon every day…
Whereas I weigh in at well under 80kg’s (not even twice their daily consumption) and can only eat about 200grams of salmon in a sitting. Do the math, it’s scary!
But numbers aside I was finally here in Alaska after months of planning, in the thick of the salmon run and surrounded by a feeding frenzy of grizzly bears. This was my first trip to photograph the grizzly’s and at first I didn’t really know what to expect.
However it soon became clear that during the salmon run the bears really aren’t interested in much else, and as long as you follow the common sense instructions provided by the guides at each lodge, you can wander around fairly freely to photograph these amazing creatures.
To get this shot, I had decided to do what all good wildlife photographer’s do. Pick a spot, hurry up and wait…
This was a flat river area with plenty of salmon still making their way laboriously upstream, and a number of bears enjoying the bounty and jealously guarding their fishing territories. Skirmishes like this one would occasionally break out between the bears, and it was a matter of being quick on the draw and ready to catch the action at the right moment and from the right angle.
This is one of my favorite shots from that day, with the bear’s claws raking through the water adding some real drama to the image. I used a large aperture to freeze the action which also created a shallow depth of field allowing me to isolate the bears and the water droplets from the background elements in the image.
As published in Digital Photography & Design Magazine June 2012.