Brown bear cubs playing with willow tree

Kinak Bay, Katmai, Alaska

Kinak Bay, Katmai, Alaska
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Runner Up in Alaska The Wild Photo Contest
Contest Finalist in Alaska The Wild Photo Contest
Peer Award
Absolute Masterpiece
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Superb Composition
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Top Choice
Tanya333 Shane136 JC-Ka VieruAndreiSilviu MontyRPennington thatunicorngal freelancejim +7
Magnificent Capture
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All Star
Dreamcatchers_Reeves IMIKEMEDIA llowzz DaggiM LucyCMorr
Outstanding Creativity
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Love it
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Superior Skill


KonstantinSokolov ilanbar

Submitted to Photo Contests

Top ClassTM

Wildlife Families Photo ContestTop 30 class
Wildlife Families Photo ContestTop 30 class week 1
Alaska The Wild Photo ContestTop 10 class
Alaska The Wild Photo ContestTop 10 class week 1


5 Comments | Report
Alfredo_Jose PRO+
Alfredo_Jose January 17, 2019
Goregous shot, stunning!
keepclicking March 26, 2019
Fantastic image
kimayers PRO+
kimayers April 08, 2019
My dream is to visit Alaska one day. What an amazing capture!! Beautiful work!!
janvanpoortvliet PRO+
janvanpoortvliet April 08, 2019
Wow such a nice capture
Awayoutphotography PRO
Awayoutphotography April 08, 2019
Great capture!

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Behind The Lens

My photo of two grizzly cubs by willow tree was taken in Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska. Me, my friend and our guide camped out there for twelve days and encountered lots and lots of bears. One big female bear actually used to sleep just about 20 meters from our tents. Here she is: https://www.viewbug.com/photo/59128421.
We had been trailing upstream during this cloudy morning and suddenly we saw a mama bear with three cubs. She was a very good mum and kept a careful lookout for male bears and other dangers for her cubs. Apparently, she didn’t think our trio was any danger to her trio so she let us get quite close and watch the cubs play.
Since there was no hard sunlight this morning I didn’t have to worry about shadows and backlight. As two of the cubs started to try to bend this willow tree I could just point and shoot.
I used a Canon EOS-1D X and EF300mm f/2.8L IS II USM for this photo. Unlike most wildlife photographers I never use a tripod. I feel I am more flexible without it (or rather – I have never learned how to use one efficiently).
This was my third bear expedition and I had started to understand what I wanted to catch. I have seen so many marvelous bear pictures, often bear catching fish, hunting fish or engaged in quarrel with another bear. I found that the pictures I liked the most were calm pictures of bear daily life when not hunting or quarreling, like portraits with eye contact.
This picture didn’t need to much post processing, just some tuning of the white balance and a little contrast and sharpening.
In my camera bag
On wildlife expeditions I bring two cameras and three lenses. I use a Canon 1dx and a Canon 5d MkIII. I usually mount a 300mm 2.8 or a 70-200 2.8 and a 16-35 2.8 to be able to cover all needs, from close ups to wide angle. As you can imagine this weighs a lot and requires some space. I would love to bring more, but since I want to carry my gear with me and not check it when flying, I have developed a deceiving casual look on my face when standing at the check in desk, trying my best to look as if my backpack is not heavy (or big) at all. Since I am not the tallest or biggest person around, quite the opposite actually, this is a hell of an act.
I can strongly recommend the use of two cameras. Both due to redundancy if one fails and due to the fact that it isn’t advisable to change lenses in moist, dusty or windy places (or all three at once). I experienced camera failure a couple of years ago in a rain forest – it was like sitting in a shower – and I was really lucky the other camera had better heavy-duty capabilities.

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