I recently spent a few days at Katmai National Park photographing the famous congregation of brown bears that fish vigoruously during the summer months, storing up the nourishment to get them through a long winter hibernation. The National Park is large, and the region I visited is more specifically know as Brooks falls, or Brooks camp. If you have seen a photo of a bear catching salmon at a waterfall, there is a high probability it was taken on the Brooks river. Although this sort of photo has been heavily published, it is surprisingly more complicated to acquire than one may think. There are many factors that need to line up during one’s visit to make it happen.
- good light,
- fish jumping at the right time,
- a bear at the falls that catches fish with his mouth (not his feet–which many do),
- the bear needs to be positioned right,
- the fish has to jump at the right height,
- and it needs to jump in a position so the bear turns slightly toward you the photographer.
- And then of course, you have to be ready and take the frame at the exact time.
All of these things can happen, and do happen, but it takes some persistence on the photographers part, and then the combination of other factors to mesh. As for me, I’m not that fond of standing in one place for a long time waiting for these elements to coalesce, but, very simply, that is the way it has to be done. Fortunately, on my last trip, I was able to grab a few shots, and in the next few posts I’ll discuss some further details about lens selection and exposure settings in this highly popular bear photo destination.