I have been going over some recent bear images, and figured I would pick a few and explain the techniques I used to get shoot them. One major secret to photography is always the gear you use. My “kit” consists of a Sony A9, 100-400 GM lens, 200-600 G lens, and a 16-35 2.8- all Sony. The top mirrorless cameras offer, in short, twice the camera in half the package from traditional DLSRs. Autofocus speed, ISO performance, frame rates and amazing dynamic range are a few of the benefits offered by this new technology. Here a few favorites, and what comes to my mind.
I recently had the opportunity to use this gear during a spectacular sunrise on the coast of Katmai National Park. The skies were clear, the tide low, and salmon running- a fantasy come true. By positioning ourselves facing the rising sun I was able to capture the bears in silhouettes. To expose for the bright sky, the shadowed bears appear only as black shapes. If I was to expose for the bears in shadow, the sky would be totally over-exposed, or “washed out.” The main technique to achieve these shots is to not expose for the bear, but the bright sky behind, or underexpose the image, depending on the percentage of dark/light in the frame. If the bear and other dark content is very small compared to the bright sky, the exposure, if set to evaluative metering, should take care of itself. If, like in the below image, the dark bear and sandbar makes up a good portion of the frame, you could set your exposure compensation to -2/3 or -1.
Thanks for letting me share some information and images from a beautiful sunrise in the Alaskan wilderness. We are very lucky to still have a few wild places and healthy populations of charismatic animals such as bears. The Alaska Peninsula is under direct threat of becoming heavily industrialized by the proposed Pebble Mine. Go to Alaskabears.earth to learn more about this frightening scenario and how you can help stop it. Time is running out!!!
Keep Exploring and Supporting Conservation! Or do both by joining us on an amazing bear expedition in 2021!