What a day! We met up with our pilots Derick and Joe of Alaska Bear Adventures out of Homer at 6:30AM Monday morning for a briefing and fitting of hip waders. Then we boarded two Cessnas (I got the co-pilot seat) for the one hour flight to Katmai National Park to see Coastal Brown Bears, AKA Grizzly Bears. When Derick spotted a couple of bears near the shoreline, we landed…on the beach! The next five hours was indeed an Alaska bear adventure.
For most of the day, we watched a mama bear and her three almost grown cubs, fish for salmon that were beginning their run from the ocean inland. Derick and Joe kept us safe and always with bears in view for us to photograph. They knew how close to approach the bears. Most of the time shooting, we knelt so as to minimize our presence. The bears want to be the biggest thing around so we knelt while shooting to appear smaller. We were rewarded twice with Mama and all three cubs walking up to and by us without incident. The first time, Derick made sure mama bear kept moving as she passed within a dozen feet of us, even stopping to defecate right next to us. The second time, Joe knelt next to me as one of the cubs made a bee-line directly towardus. I kept shooting while Joe calmly redirected the cub, but not before I got these shots. Just about the time Joe made sure the bear moved away, using only his voice and not the protective flare he carried, the bear’s face filled the frame and was too close to focus. My lens can’t focus any closer than 10 feet.
It was the adventure of a lifetime! Because of weight limitations on the airplanes, most of us used our lighter Nikon Z7 mirrorless cameras. I also used my 500mm PF with a 1.4x teleconverter. The teleconverter was overkill for these two shots.