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Jan, 2018
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Mother and cub at 81.31 degrees north



Polar bear (Ursus maritimus)

This is one of several amazing moments this female and her cub shared with us, and here they are walking straight towards the boat I'm on to check it out, as their seal carcass was completely cleaned out and thus the hunt for new opportunities went up to the number one priority.

They evoke so many feelings in humans, and I am no exception, as I simply cannot help myself and say "aaaww" when I look at the cub in the image. But during the encounter my heart was filled with awe, amazement, love and admiration, as the cub and her mother are such incredible animals. The cub had a unique way of keeping the lower lip hanging, or drooping, and it just adds to the cuteness that is a cub. And that we humans simply love.

Cuteness aside, this cub has had an amazingly good start in life, as the mother has made it off Svalbard and onto the sea ice, where the food is during the summer months. Chances are that this cub one day is a fully grown specimen, capable of killing a human with just one hit of either of its paws!
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Behind The Lens

Location
We had been looking for the sea ice north of Svalbard for a long time, and we finally found it and his mother and cub at 81.31 degrees north. Much, much farther north than ever before.
Time
Shot 27 July 2016 13:16.
Lighting
Lighting was tough as it was either fog, bright sunlight or something in between, basically a whiteout condition, which also made it challenging finding these white mammals.
Equipment
Nikon D4s, Nikkor 500mm with 1.4 converter with 700 mm total on a Gitzo GT5542LS tripod and a WH-200 Wimberley Head
Inspiration
This was like so often in life pure luck and coincidence. We were all going down below to have lunch, but I lagged behind to get a last look around, suddenly they decided to walk towards the ship, which was amazing as this was a break from a long observation of them feeding off the seal carcass, running for it when the male wanted seconds, then back again when the male took a rest nearby. If I had been with the rest of the people down below, I would have missed the approach sequence and this lovely scene.
Editing
Reduced blacks, shadows and brightened midtones.
In my camera bag
Two houses (currently D4s and D850) Nikkor: 800mm, 24-70mm, 105mm, Formatt Hitech filters for landscape, fiber cloth, lots of spare batteries, head lamp, lots of memory cards, external hard disk, notebook, LensCoat raingear for all lenses and houses.
Feedback
Always be ready!!! Auto ISO and exposure compensation are good friends as you can focus on the subject whenever it decides to come along no matter how shifting the light conditions are. Shoot as your subject approaches or you are getting closer, as you might not get another opportunity. If the subject does come amazingly close, that is an added bonus.

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