Katmai Bears

kdogkdog artistically challengedSan Jose, CAAdministrators Posts: 11,654 moderator
edited September 16, 2021 in Wildlife

A collection of Alaska coastal brown bears taken on a Muench Workshops trip to Katmai. The coastal brown bears are essentially the same species as grizzlies but they live on the coast and eat fish all day. They actually grow larger than grizzlies due to the high protein and fat diet. The is probably the best place in the world to photograph bears because they're too busy fishing to bother with photographers. For the most part, we stayed in one place and the bears would come to us. Just amazing.

All pics taken with the Canon R5 and EF 100-400 MKII on an adapter with the exception of a few landscapes.

1

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

10

11

12

13

14

15

16 We stayed on this ship

Comments

  • denisegoldbergdenisegoldberg Major grins North Andover, MASuper Moderators Posts: 13,488 moderator

    These are wonderful!

    13 just reached out and grabbed me - I can imagine these two having a conversation.

  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAAdministrators Posts: 11,654 moderator

    @denisegoldberg said:
    These are wonderful!

    13 just reached out and grabbed me - I can imagine these two having a conversation.

    Thanks, Denise! What would they be saying?

    "Why catch fish when we have a perfectly good seagull here?"

    "Tell me the story again how you chased the photographer"

  • roaddog52roaddog52 Major grins In the sticks, NE of SeattleRegistered Users Posts: 1,298 Major grins

    A wonderful set, Joel. This looks like it was quite the adventure. They're all great, but 1, and 15 really stand out for me!

    Phil

    I don't know where I'm going, but I'm going anyway.

    Luck happens when preparation meets opportunity!
  • JuanoJuano Major grins Lima, PeruRegistered Users Posts: 4,447 Major grins

    Wonderful set and location! I am envious...! My favorite action shot is 12, it makes you wonder did he get it? 15 is beautiful too.

  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAAdministrators Posts: 11,654 moderator

    @roaddog52 said:
    A wonderful set, Joel. This looks like it was quite the adventure. They're all great, but 1, and 15 really stand out for me!

    Thanks very much, Phil. You like the artistic ones I see. I'll have to post some more. :smile:

    @Juano said:
    Wonderful set and location! I am envious...! My favorite action shot is 12, it makes you wonder did he get it? 15 is beautiful too.

    Hey Cristóbal, thank you! Ya know, I didn't actually remember if he got the fish so I went back and checked and voila. There was more to the story! Here they are, thanks to you!

  • JonaBeth RussellJonaBeth Russell Major grins MauiRegistered Users Posts: 1,065 Major grins

    Holy hell man, these are fantastic!!! I tried to choose some favs, but really, the entire set is just great. Thank you for sharing!

  • black mambablack mamba Major grins Jacksonville, FLRegistered Users Posts: 7,734 Major grins

    I have to say, Joel, that this series is the best " bear work " I've ever seen anywhere and in any context. Absolutely stunning stuff.. #13 is priceless. #s 1 and 15 won't turn me loose. kudos to you, buddy, for some magnificent photography.

    I always wanted to lie naked on a bearskin rug in front of a fireplace. Cracker Barrel didn't take kindly to it.
  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Super Moderators Posts: 22,305 moderator

    Wonderful stuff here, Joel!

    Sure glad the bears didn't Muench on you!
    (I'll let myself out.)

    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAAdministrators Posts: 11,654 moderator
    edited September 16, 2021

    @JonaBeth Russell said:
    Holy hell man, these are fantastic!!! I tried to choose some favs, but really, the entire set is just great. Thank you for sharing!

    Thanks very much, Jon. Good to hear from you! It was a an awesome trip.

    @black mamba said:
    I have to say, Joel, that this series is the best " bear work " I've ever seen anywhere and in any context. Absolutely stunning stuff.. #13 is priceless. #s 1 and 15 won't turn me loose. kudos to you, buddy, for some magnificent photography.

    Hey Tom, thanks so much for your kind words. I'll admit I'm pretty stoked about the haul of photos I got from this trip which exceeded my expectations. Katmai is amazing, I'm guessing the only place in the world where you can safely hang out with bears.

    @ziggy53 said:
    Wonderful stuff here, Joel!

    Sure glad the bears didn't Muench on you!
    (I'll let myself out.)

    Haha, thanks, Ziggy. I've only been on one other Muench trip 10 years ago to Galapagos because of the expense and I like the flexibility of doing trips on my own (or with friends). But there are a few trips they do like this one with very complicated logistics that make it worthwhile so I made an exception. I'm glad I did, this was a real winner. Andy made a funny on the last night and said to me, "so will we see you again in 10 years?" :D

    Speaking of the devil...

    Yeah, they get that close sometimes.

  • David_S85David_S85 Spotter of Dgrin Spam and Oddities ChicagolandAdministrators Posts: 12,787 moderator

    Andy looks like he's in a happy place. I haven't seen him since my last Muench workshop in 2015 in The Palouse. Sure glad the workshops are up and running again, albeit in an abbreviated schedule. Katmai looks like an amazing place. At this point, nearing retirement, I might not make another (and expensive) workshop. But if I do, my own every-ten-year trip with them will be around 2025. I know that Andy has had a rough couple of years, but he looks thinner and healthier now.

    My Smugmug
    "You miss 100% of the shots you don't take" - Wayne Gretzky
  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAAdministrators Posts: 11,654 moderator

    @David_S85 said:
    Andy looks like he's in a happy place. I haven't seen him since my last Muench workshop in 2015 in The Palouse. Sure glad the workshops are up and running again, albeit in an abbreviated schedule. Katmai looks like an amazing place. At this point, nearing retirement, I might not make another (and expensive) workshop. But if I do, my own every-ten-year trip with them will be around 2025. I know that Andy has had a rough couple of years, but he looks thinner and healthier now.

    He lost over 100 lbs he says. Now's he's skinny as a rail and a workout fanatic. He was up at 5am every morning working out on the cold, damp ship decks before first light, like a possessed man. Quite inspirational. I love good workouts. I could sit and watch them all day!

  • ziggy53ziggy53 Still learnin'still lovin Super Moderators Posts: 22,305 moderator
    edited September 16, 2021

    @kdog said:
    ... I love good workouts. I could sit and watch them all day!

    ziggy53
    Moderator of the Cameras and Accessories forums
  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaSuper Moderators Posts: 14,597 moderator
    edited September 19, 2021

    So many great images Joel. I especially liked 1, 3 , 6 , 13 and 15. If 15 were mine, I MIGHT open up the shadows in the bears just a smidge more. You probably have already tried that and decided against it 😃

    You liked the EF 100-400mm Mk II with the EF->RF adapter on the R5. Kathy and I both love our R5s with the RF100-500 for wildlife - light and easy to handle but crisp, fast AF.

    I just saw a dozen juvenile Bald eagles near a local walkway yesterday. Who would have ever thought we would be seeing multiple trees with 4-8 juvenile bald eagles stationed in them in mid-central Indiana?

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAAdministrators Posts: 11,654 moderator

    @pathfinder said:
    So many great images Joel. I especially liked 1, 3 , 6 , 13 and 15. If 15 were mine, I MIGHT open up the shadows in the bears just a smidge more. You probably have already tried that and decided against it 😃

    Thanks, Jim! Good to hear from you. Those are my favorites as well, and the first one in the second set. Hopefully you didn't miss that one, it's my favorite now.

    I guess #15 is a preference thing. The image was taken with plenty of shadow detail, but I "contrasted" it out in post. The idea was to show just the outline of the bears. Although the faint light left on their snouts was pretty persistent and I let it slide because I liked it. Pretty arbitrary I know. I may do a completely different workup on the shot to create a different look as well but I doubt it would replace this one. I really appreciate the input.

    You liked the EF 100-400mm Mk II with the EF->RF adapter on the R5. Kathy and I both love our R5s with the RF100-500 for wildlife - light and easy to handle but crisp, fast AF.

    I don't want to hear it. The only reason I switched to the R5 at this time was to get the 100-500 and I ordered them together from B&H four months before my trip. The camera came right away and I still haven't received 100-500. Grrrr... And of course I even monitored the other vendors looking for one, even purchasing one from Canon direct when their website erroneously showed-in stock, which turned out to be a false alarm. Even renting failed, as people had it reserved on the weekends. Totally screwed I was. Even so, the R5 was a dream even with the adapter. Far better than my 5DMKIV.

    I just saw a dozen juvenile Bald eagles near a local walkway yesterday. Who would have ever thought we would be seeing multiple trees with 4-8 juvenile bald eagles stationed in them in mid-central Indiana?

    That's crazy. No adults? What is this, summer camp? Any shots to share?

  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaSuper Moderators Posts: 14,597 moderator

    The first image in the second set is dynamite, indeed!

    I bought one RF 100-500 and shared it with my wife when it first was released. I never saw it again. I wasn't really surprised, Kathy has really taken to loving bird photography; so I ordered a second one in Jan 2021 and it showed up in April if memory serves. But some folks say the EF 100-400 V2 with a TC is just as good too, which your images suggest.

    What body were you using if you hadn't bought the R5? I found the R viewfinder pretty slow and aggravating for wildlife, but the R5 ( with the viewfinder set to high speed) rocks. Really makes me think about selling my DLSRs and ordering an R3.

    We are seeing adult bald eagles frequently ( if you know where to look ) - both pairs and nests - locally, but I have not seem this number of juveniles assembled ever before in Indiana.. The Wabash River overflowed and a bunch of fish were caught in the water flats which is what the juvies were after.. Just good evidence that the eagles are really reproducing locally now. I know of at least six nests within 30 miles. Who woulda ever thought it possible.

    The birds were over 200 yards off, so my images were of trees not birds. I do have a few eagle pictures shot over the years - just search at pathfinder.smugmug.com under keyword eagle...

    Here is a juvie captured locally

    https://pathfinder.smugmug.com/Animals/Birds/i-Qx9qLwk/A

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
  • kdogkdog artistically challenged San Jose, CAAdministrators Posts: 11,654 moderator
    edited September 19, 2021

    Thanks, @pathfinder

    Haha, funny, but great that your wife is "stealing" your equipment. How nice to have a shared hobby. My daughter is the director of photography for her school's (Northeastern) music magazine. Suffice to say she's probably one of the better equipped photographers at school. What can I say...

    That's awesome that you have a growing population of eagles there. We have a few at local reservoirs if you know where to look, like you say. Not in the most accessible places for photography.

    If I didn't have the R5, I'd be shooting with the 5DMKIV still. I had it on this trip as my backup cam, and snapped some landscapes with it. I never delved into the 1DX's. A guy in Coralville Iowa let me use his 1DXII (or maybe it was a III) to take a few shots of the eagles there and in the short time I used it, I felt like my 5DMKIV was doing just as well. But I don't know how he had it set up and obviously I wasn't dialed into its features to any great extent.

    The R5 was my first foray into the R series, and I guess I'm all in now. Since the R5 has such different controls, I'll need to replace the 5DMKIV with another R. But which one? The R6 would be the obvious choice, but I just can't get my head around another 20MP camera. Ditto on the R3, but at least it's 30MP and with a mind-blowing AF and big battery. Hmm...

    None of those shots above used the TC1.4x. I used it on one of the first days on the trip and often found myself over-lensed, so removed it for the duration. Unfortunately most of those early shots were at very high ISOs (5,000 - 10,000) so not a very good test, but still the shots are looking OK. Here are a couple with the TC1.4x

    "How do you like my nails?"

    "Did I say you could take my picture?"

  • pathfinderpathfinder Drive By Digital Shooter western IndianaSuper Moderators Posts: 14,597 moderator

    The R5 seems to fare pretty well at iSO's less than 20K or so - not noise free, but not annoying. A little bit a high powered noise reduction to sky or other smooth tones can be helpful at times too.

    Great looking bears in monochrome!

    I used my 5D MK IV for birds in flight in Newfoundland, and found the buffer couldn't handle trains of high frame rates shots with full size RAW files - so I switched to mRAW size files and solved my buffer blockages.

    I do like the files from a 5DMk IV better than a 1DX Mk II - overall image quality - , but the handling, lack of buffer blockages, and better AF make me grab the 1DX MK II for wildlife.

    But the R5 is stunning to use with its intelligent AF - and a lot lighter.

    The R3 is looking very appealing. I might have to send my 1DX Mk II to the woodshed.

    Pathfinder - www.pathfinder.smugmug.com

    Moderator of the Technique Forum and Finishing School on Dgrin
Sign In or Register to comment.