For the coastal brown bears of Katmai national park, salmon is a vital part of their diet. How they capture these fish varies: some catch them with their mouth as the fish jump the falls, as noted in the previous blog photo; some steal fish that other bears catch; some sit nearly submerged in the water and wait for the fish to bump their legs, then grab them; some scavenge the remains discarded by other bears, and some chase schools of salmon and leap on a targeted fish. I call this lunge feeding, although I don’t know if it is truly a technical term. It is however, fun to watch, and fun, but challenging to photograph.
In the picture posted here, I was caught a little off guard, not expecting this bear to take off chasing fish. Actually, I was photographing a Savannah sparrow in the willows along the bank of the river and heard the splashing water behind me. I turned around and started shooting, this frame is one of the last ones when the bear was closest and had captured the fish. In many ways, it is an “almost” since my shutter speed was only 1/250 of a second, and not quite enough to freeze the bear. Had I anticipated this event, I would have been at 400 ISO at least for depth of field and shutter speed. Notice the crop below that reveals the motion blur of the bears face.
I like the blur on the fish tail and the water droplets, but would prefer a little more sharpness on the head of the bear. But that is the way it goes. I did shoot other bears lunge feeding, but this is the only one that actually caught a fish in a position to be photographed.