For years I have worked with Grizzly Bears, mostly up in Alaska. I have my Dad to thank for that for it was he that kinda of got me hooked on them. Despite the belief that they are just vicious animals, they really are just animated teddy bears. Most of the time they sleep and the other half of their time, they eat. It’s what they do. I was very fortunate last weekend to see be able to photograph a Griz in the park. It’s not always common. The more surprising thing about that one afternoon is that he wasn’t the only one. I saw 6 bears that day all black except for him, but even more surprising they were all by the bloody road. I can honestly say I have never seen that happen.
This particular bear caused quite a stir the whole day. He stayed in the same spot for most of the day, which just happened to be in a bad section of road with limited parking space. That’s usually the case in the park. At first glance i didn’t see anything so i drove on by. It wasn’t until about 8:00 when i was heading out and drove past again that i saw him. With big groups and large cameras you always got to be careful, and I wasn’t really bummed that i missed the first time around. Since it wasn’t sunset until 8:45 there was some time but not much. With the 600 out i got a few shots. Enough to have in my files for the first time a wild Grizzly Bear photographed in the lower 48.
He was actually quite a character. About 2 years old maybe a tad older, probably just kicked out by Mom, this guy kept challenging a Big Bull Bison for a patch of grass. At the bottom of the hill was a marshy grass area and the Bison was grazing. Well the Bear also wanted what was down there. So when the Bison moved away he would go down. When the Bison came back or looked at the bear, the Bear run back up the hill and lay down. The bear would wait for the Bison to move and do it all over again. It was rather comical to watch. That’s just how it went.
Now for anyone wondering why I used the straight 600 and not a teleconverter to get a better shot, a teleconverter does increase length but takes away one or two stops of light depending on what size teleconverter. Well with that increased depth, shutter speed would go down and since i was already at 1/60th of a second, losing any more would have yielded no results. Despite his clam demeanor, he was still breathing, wind was going through his fur, and he kept twitching his head. All of that movement would have made any shot blurry.