I just returned from co-guiding a photo tour to Alaska’s arctic, and getting ready to return for trip two. We had excellent polar bear photography with favorable conditions including some unusually calm weather. The light however, was in general pretty dark and gray, which is typical for coastal arctic Alaska weather this time of year. This results in shooting conditions that push the limits. In the case of this photo, I took it hand held with my 500mm lens, on a relatively stable boat, but the exposure of 1/800 second will just barely stop the fast action of play fighting bears. High ISO levels of 800-1000 or so are common and produce great results if properly exposed. The tendency in dim lighting with white and gray colors is for the camera to under expose, and I find shooting in manual mode a much easier and controllable way to achieve accurate exposure.