Sunday, December 31, 2017

Alaska 2017. Part 2.


The trip to Alaska last summer’s principal objective was to photograph walruses which I had never seen in the wild before - and then anything else that came along but ended mostly with grizzly bears. I broke down the blog into sections depending on where the subjects were photographed.  The images were taken with an iPhone as well as full frame digital cameras.

Lake Clark
I visited here last in 2012 and like everywhere else the photography crowds have increased. During the first visit the only way to visit was to fly in and stay for a few days; that has changed. Daily flights are available when shuttles fly in the tourists for the day making multiple trips and returning the customers by the end of the day.  This has changed the peace and quiet due to the plane take-offs and landings throughout the day and worse on weekends. Some families with private planes stay overnight, along with their children who bring another disturbance to the bears. 





 As I mentioned before, lots of people including large photography tours, stay at the available lodges. These bears are habituated to these situations and largely ignore the humans. The problem is with the cubs that approach and even rub against a leg, but in this case, a call from the mother chase them away. This is not limited to bears sightings; foxes are pretty tame too. There are other fauna such as the puffins but these are on islands offshore.



 And even here the eye of the law is watching…using ATB’s that is, All Terrain Bikes.
 Moraine Creek
 It is in Alaska’s Katmai National Park during August/September that the spawning of the sockeyes occurs followed by rainbow trout that feed on the former’s eggs. So it is a big attraction to fishermen, bears, as well as photographers chasing brown bears. It is possible to camp overnight but the logistics are complicated and additional safety precautions are needed at night to protect the camp from the bears.





 The creek is training ground for the cubs that occasionally make a catch but mostly rely on the sows to provide the meals. And there is time to shake off the water, just like dogs do it.


 Cubs spent lots of time sleeping and playing with others as well as annoying the adults when trying to sleep. They are really great entertainment and as with most other mammals, training in developmental skills to survive when time comes to be sent away by their moms.


 Brooks Falls
This was not a scheduled event but due to inclement weather, could not fly to Moraine Creek.  Brooks Falls is probably the greatest bear tourist attraction in Alaska and visits are very controlled.  One view the falls from a double-decker pier and people are allowed in rotating groups for limited periods of time.  Once time is up, one has to leave and for a second chance, you just form at the end of the line and wait your turn again. Most recently tripods were prohibited but monopods are still OK. The iPhone image below shows my camera with the falls in the background and the lower deck below.

 Bears fish in the pools below the falls where fights for the choice fishing holes occurs; these fights usually end up with the dominant bear keeping its fishing rights, and gets the salmon.




 The iconic photograph for Brooks Falls is to photograph a bear at the moment it captures a salmon. This is not difficult to accomplish and requires patience, a long fast telephoto and camera’s high shutter speed. There are other factors such as the weather, fish running and bears fishing at the top of the falls that will the photograph possible.  After numerous tries, one image will become a winner.  There were others fishing at the falls - a family of mergansers.


The end of 2017 and still have other blogs for this year to upload.  Who knows where 2018 will take me but so far, no firm plans. 
Happy New Year!!!





1 comment:

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

iPhones are becoming very popular now and are very handy and better in that you don't have to carry bulky bags of equipment.

Beautiful bear pictures Jose. Wish I could see them in real life.

Such a pity about all the people disturbing animals like this in wild places but I suppose that it all once again boils down to money. Even here I seldom go into Kruger any more as there are too many people. Anyway, there is enough wildlife coming into my yard but I do miss seeing the elephants.

Do they shake the trout to get the water off or to kill them?

I hope your travels take you to more exciting places Jose and that you have a wonderful 2018.