Wish I Could Have a ‘Do Over’!

While editing older images over the past few days, I ran across a memory that will never elude me … a bear fight involving 4 bears! While visiting Hallo Bay (Alaska) in 2004, to photograph the coastal brown bears (grizzlies) of Alaska’s Katmai National Park, there was a sow with her 2 cubs (the cubs were on their third year with mom, quite unusual) were busy fishing at the edge of Clint’s Creek. A second, younger sow slowly approached the creek with her 2 spring cubs in tow. She set the 2 cubs down on the bank and she waded into the creek to fish. But after only a couple of minutes, she wandered towards the older sow and tried to run her out of the creek. But the older sow would not have it and stood her ground, which abruptly started a physical fight in the creek. And that action brought the older mom’s “cubs” into the creek to help mom, creating a 3-on-1 situation right in front of us!

Brown Bear sow and 2 juveniles eating fish in the creek

Brown Bears in a fight

Brown Bears in a fight

Brown Bears in a fight

Brown Bears in a fight

Brown Bears in a fight

Brown Bears in a fight

Brown Bears in a fight

Meanwhile on the bank, the second sow’s two cubs are watching mom as she battles the 3 bears:

Brown Bear spring cubs watch mom in a fight

Brown Bear spring cubs watching mom in a fight

As it turned out, no one was seriously injured, although the two little cubs’ mom had a rather nasty-looking gash on her hind quarter. It certainly could have been worse, so we were quite relieved to see her limp off with the two young bears. As for the “do over”, this was my first outing with my first digital camera and Murphy’s Laws certainly were overlooking my attempts to capture the action! Foremost, my shutter speeds were much too slow (see shooting info, below) causing too much blur for my liking. We often think of bears as slow, lumbering creatures, but let me tell you that this experience certainly opened my eyes! Also, at that point in my photography experience, I was shooting jpeg images, literally not aware of RAW files and the advantages of them over jpegs. Just wish I had a “Do Over”!  :o)

Photographic Equipment Used:

  • Canon 10D body
  • Canon EF 300mm, f/2.8 IS lens plus Canon 1.4x TC, shot at 420mm
  • Bogen 3022 tripod with ballhead
  • ISO 200 (my “Do Over” would be to change this to at least ISO 400 and, more likely, ISO 800)
  • Aperture 5.6 (my “Do Over” would have been to open the aperture up to f/4, the largest available with the Canon 1.4x TC on the lens)
  • Shutter 1/45 sec. to 1/60 sec. (Herein lies the real problem … much too slow!  Should have captured images at ~ 1/2000 sec.)

With these shooting parameters, I actually got pretty decent images … but I really do want a “Do Over”!!!



If you enjoyed this post, please share this link with others who you feel may enjoy it!

Posted in 2016, Blog, Mammals, National Park, Nature Photography, Photography Tips, Travel Photography
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , .
Permalink bookmark.
Follow comments: RSS feed for this post.
Trackbacks are closed, but you can post a comment.
  • Wendy Weger

    Morning Jim :)

    Gosh quite a sight! I think you took some GREAT shots…I think the ‘blur’ makes it even more life like myself….the youngsters so cute learning from mum..lol..
    I was in Ak working at a Lodge outside of Dillingham about 30 miles…and very rarely did we see bear…but I flew out one day with one of the fishing guides and we were blessed to see quite a number….and sometimes ‘pawing’ at the little Cessna as we flew over…I love these shots! I hope you and the family are well..the photo your dear wife took of you bent down taking a close up of a squirrel I think it was..is forever etched in my memory with a big smile…
    Well time moves on have to be on my way shortly..but lovely to ‘see’ you and your wonderful photography…fondest love to you and your family ..wet and around 38F here in Centralia Wa. floods got a little too close from the Centralia River..but we squeeked by yet again on the area where I live!

    Thank you again ..always brightens my day to see you in my emails and what wonderful photos are in store :) ..hugs Wendy and Cookie cat xox

  • Thank you, Wendy (and Cookie cat!), and yes, some blur is helpful. But I wish there was a bit less in a couple of them :o) Getting cold here! I’m doing a photo workshop on the Mississippi River in a few days and the temps are forecast to be extremely cold … Sunday’s temp is -9F to -3F :o) Ya gotta love it!

    A wonderful weekend to you and Cookie! :o)