Posts made in Bears


“Fishing The Kulik” Wins Photo Contest

If  you’re not familiar with Cowboys & Indians Magazine® , it is the premier magazine of the West, highlighting western and ranch life and the people and places that make up that special part of theCowboys & Indians Magazine American West. It typically features one cover personality that is prominent in western film, literature or history along with other articles and stories for those who have an appreciation of western lore, wildlife, scenery, architecture, music and even poetry. Once each year, the focus is on some of the most interesting and high-quality photography of the West that can be found anywhere in one place.

Every year since 2004, I’ve entered the magazine’s annual “Photographing The West” contest.  I’ve been fortunate to have had a number of my images make it to the final selections and get published in the March special photography edition.  And,  I was very pleased to win the Landscape category in 2009 for my “Old Prairie Church” (1/24/2011 Blog post).

So I’m was really excited again to hear that I won this year’s Wildlife category with “Fishing The Kulik”.  It  is one of my favorites of the many bear shots from last fall’s trip with my friend, John DuBois, to the Katmai National Park in Alaska. It was taken along the Kulik River during the short period when the grizzlies fish for Salmon in the river.  This guy had just surfaced (without the fish he was trying to catch), about 25 yards from the boat.  I used my new Nikon D800 and 70-200mm telephoto lens with a 1.7 teleconverter, shot at 270mm.  In this type of setting, I usualy fire a burst of 3 to 5 shots (low speed continuous).  This happened to be the only one where his eyes were directly on me, with the water streaming from his face.  He was already unhappy to have missed his fish, but then to see me nearby rattling the shutter resulted in this pretty menacing look.

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Bears Along the Kulik River

The Kulik River in the Katmai National Park, Alaska

I’ve just returned from 5 days in Katmai National Park in Alaska.  My good friend, John Dubois, and I spent most of the time on the Kulik River shooting (with cameras, that is) Brown (Grizzly) Bears and the fall colors along the river.

Departing from Anchorage was a thrill all by itself, since the winds and rain that have been rampant in Alaska this summer made our twin-engine KatmaiAir Navajo departure late, and the climb-out a bit thrilling.  But once on the way, I was once again awestruck by the spectacle that is Alaska.

The Kulik Lodge was our home for 4 days.  Great, great setting, and even better hosts and staff.  Like most photographers, I know Brooks Lodge as the most popular go-to stop for bear photography.  But, I wanted to try something else. So, after some research, we decided on Kulik instead.  And, am I glad.

At this time of year, the Salmon are making their run, and the bears flood the river to fish and fatten up for the brutal, oncoming Alaskan winter and their struggle for survival.  So from a photographer’s viewpoint, there isn’t a much better opportunity to see and capture images of them close-up.

The weather didn’t cooperate fully, with rain and wind two of the days.  Nevertheless, we ventured out in the boats with our guide each day just before sunrise (8:00 a.m. there this time of year).  Turning out for the boat with waders and gear, even that late in the morning, is more difficult than back at home when the sun rises almost an hour earlier.  Each day’s full schedule and toting of all my equipment left my shoulders and back aching for the hot-tub, a good shower and a hot meal.

At promptly 6:30 each morning, our guide awakened us with a knock and left a full pot of hot coffee at the door.  A made-to-order breakfast followed before we donned the waders, boots and parkas. 

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