Kodiak Brown Bears captured by Z 8 / Z600f4 @840mm

“No photograph is worth sacrificing the welfare of the subject,” or your own! This has been my mantra from day one. It’s what took me down the road delving into learning more and more and more about the subjects I want to photograph. Grizzly & Kodiak Brown Bears are an amazing critter with an incredibly fascinating biology that I have been a student of for nearly thirty years. One never become an expert or is 100% correct when seeing critters actions, behavior, and know what they are going to do next. This is part of the field craft wildlife photographers need to learn along with f/stops and shutter speeds. It all goes hand in hand! It all takes time.

“Don’t get between a mother bear and her cubs” is good advice for sure but this doesn’t mean you can’t be amongst them as they go about their daily travels. The tides on Kodiak Island rule all activity, bears and human. The grass flats in which we are standing in about another thirty minutes would all be underwater. Bears have no problem swimming. Photographers with long glass, yeah they need a boat. We’d been with this family for quite a while, the rising tide slowly moving them in our direction. We didn’t approach them one foot, they came to us. That means they were doing it on their terms so they were comfortable with our being there. The most important thing, I realized the path they wanted to take to leave the flats and go up the hill during high tide. We left that path clear so they could comfortably do just that. And that’s what that look is all about. The ears are forward, the eyes wide open, the gate was slowly and easy. Mom was saying basically, “all good, we’re walking past, stay where you are and all will be good.” And so it was. You can see at the top of the landing page the video of their passing. They were fifteen feet or so away when they slid into the river and moved over to the other side and up the hillside. That was a que to get in the boats and float back to the lodge. We got the shots, the cub were nursed high and dry and life moved forward. That’s what that look meant.

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