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Thread: Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

  1. #1

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    Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

    Well here is another installment in the shots that I came away with from Brooks Falls. It is interesting how many times I go on a shoot with a preconceived notion of what I'm after and ultimately come away with something quite different. What Brooks is famous for is the number of bears that congregate to fish and the resultant action/interaction. But another aspect of so many bears is that many opportunities for close up shots present themselves over the course of a few hours. So ultimately I find that my favorite shots of the trip came from some of those opportunities.

    #1. Slow ss to make the water silky was one of the preconceived things I wanted to try. But I didn't visualize it working on tight shots.
    NIKON D4, 200-400mm VR w/1.4x TC, f/18 @ 490 mm, 1/30, ISO 1250
    Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

    #2.
    NIKON D4, 200-400mm VR w/1.4x TC, f/7.1 @ 550 mm, 1/640, ISO 2000
    Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

    #3. This shot will look really good printed on metal in either 11x14 or 16x20. The detail on the bear is excellent and the water will really pop on metal.
    NIKON D4, 200-400mm VR, f/5.6 @ 330 mm, 1/640, ISO 2500
    Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

    #4. This pretty young blonde wasn't allowed to fish with the elders and was sitting on the river bank adjacent to the viewing platform waiting for an opportunity. She sat there for quite some time in profile to me staring at the other bears. The biggest challenge was being patient for her to break her stare and offer a shot with eye contact.
    D4 and 70-200 VRII/1.4x TC, f/4 @ 280 mm, 1/800, ISO 800
    Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

    #5. This one came down the steep bank right beside the falls. It stopped long enough to show of its hardware.
    D4 and 70-200 VRII/1.4x TC, f/5.6 @ 280 mm, 1/500, ISO 2500
    Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

    #6. This bear fished for hours in the deep water right in front of the platform. It caught fish by clutching them to its chest when they bumped into it.
    D800E and 200-400, f/4 @ 400 mm, 1/1000, ISO 400
    Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

    #7.
    NIKON D800E, 200-400mm VR, f/5 @ 360 mm, 1/500, ISO 800Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

  2. #2

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    Re: Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

    Beautiful shots Dan - I will have to put that on my list of places to visit - well done and thanks for sharing


    Cheers

  3. #3
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

    "Wow" must be my new favorite word, because I just said it about 10 times out loud.

    I'm IN LOVE with #4. I can't look away!
    #7 is pretty extreme and dramatic. Might be a tad overly sharp for my taste though.

    I find it interesting how the bear in deep water was clutching the fish to its chest as you described. Do different bears have preferred, unique fishing methods? Or do they all try different methods at different times? Very cool stuff.

  4. #4
    jprzybyla's Avatar
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    Re: Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

    Makes me jealous, great images of a magnificent animal.

  5. #5

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    Re: Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

    Thanks for the comments, folks.

    Quote Originally Posted by flyingSquirrel View Post
    ...#7 is pretty extreme and dramatic. Might be a tad overly sharp for my taste though.

    .... Do different bears have preferred, unique fishing methods? Or do they all try different methods at different times? ...
    Matt, I apply the same sharpening value to all images prior to posting to web. Prior to downsizing I did apply Topaz Clarity to these images which utilizes "micro contrast" which is arguably a form of sharpening. On that one image it may just be the effect of so many water drops/bubbles give the impression of over sharpness. Plus that one is shot with the D800E which doesn't have the AA filter so is already pretty sharp SOOC. I reworked it and masked it so the water didn't get sharpened. See if this looks better.

    Regarding the fishing styles, I didn't observe them long enough to make any broad statements about how they fish. Some of the bears did get pushed from spot to spot by more dominant ones and they adapted to which ever spot they were relegated to. In the deep water they all seemed to rely on feeling the fish bump into them but they did react differently. Some simply clutched the fish to their body while some would dive down after the fish. The clutching method seemed to work pretty good.

    Reworked version:
    Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

    From OP:
    Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

  6. #6

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    Re: Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

    I loved the last set of bear photos you posted and these are just as beautiful. Number 4 is my favorite, but I also like number 1 with the soft white water against the dark color of the bear.

  7. #7
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    Re: Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

    All gorgeous and worthy of National Geographic! #3 and #5 are my favourites... Thank you for sharing your photos. Indeed we are very fortunate to be able to view your photos, as you set a standard of excellence in nature photography to aspire for.

  8. #8
    Ken Curtis's Avatar
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    Re: Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

    Another excellent set of shots, Dan. I can't bear it anymore. I'm envious.

  9. #9

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    Re: Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

    Thanks, everyone. Glad you are enjoying the bears. Unfortunately I'm nearly through culling them now. Still one or two worth processing but mostly done. Still a surprise or two in there. Like this one. I shot this bear coming out of the river to eat a fish. In the original the bear's whole head is included. There was a huge ugly wound across the top of the bear's head and I was about to delete the image. Then I noticed the feet...

    This crop is about 1/4 of the frame which is still a lot of pixels with the D800

    NIKON D800E, 200-400mm VR, f/5 @ 400 mm, 1/500, ISO 800
    Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

  10. #10
    Suzan J's Avatar
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    Re: Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

    Hello Dan: These are truly stunning! I can feel the hair stand up on the back of my neck as I scroll through them. You mentioned that you thought # 3 would make a good metal print. I have never seen a metal print in real life. (only on the net, so I can't get the full flavour.) What qualities would you look for in a photo to use this process?

  11. #11

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    Re: Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

    Awesome series , dan. The one with the fish is fantastic.

  12. #12

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    Re: Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

    Quote Originally Posted by Suzan J View Post
    ...You mentioned that you thought # 3 would make a good metal print. I have never seen a metal print in real life. (only on the net, so I can't get the full flavour.) What qualities would you look for in a photo to use this process?
    Thanks for commenting, Steve and Suzan.

    Suzan, metal works well for images with brilliant colors, high contrast, and/or a lot of detail. The only way that I can explain what a metal print looks like in person is that it has more "depth" than any other medium. On the image that I mentioned, the metal will really due justice to the high level of detail in the bear's fur and eyes and the water will look almost 3D. Image #7 would also look good on metal for the same reasons plus the iridescent colors on the fish.

  13. #13
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: Bear Portraits from Brooks Falls

    Quote Originally Posted by NorthernFocus View Post
    Matt, I apply the same sharpening value to all images prior to posting to web. Prior to downsizing I did apply Topaz Clarity to these images which utilizes "micro contrast" which is arguably a form of sharpening. On that one image it may just be the effect of so many water drops/bubbles give the impression of over sharpness. Plus that one is shot with the D800E which doesn't have the AA filter so is already pretty sharp SOOC. I reworked it and masked it so the water didn't get sharpened. See if this looks better.

    Regarding the fishing styles, I didn't observe them long enough to make any broad statements about how they fish. Some of the bears did get pushed from spot to spot by more dominant ones and they adapted to which ever spot they were relegated to. In the deep water they all seemed to rely on feeling the fish bump into them but they did react differently. Some simply clutched the fish to their body while some would dive down after the fish. The clutching method seemed to work pretty good.
    Dan, thanks a lot for the info, and for posting a revised version. The rework with the water unsharpened looks much better to me...however, no offense but I still feel like the fur on the bear has too much edge contrast/sharpness, particularly the upper right area. I think it is the probably the collective result of downsizing, clarity, and sharpening. The fact that the fur is wet might also be contributing. But I am being ridiculously nit picky and really have no place to do so considering how fine your photos and skill are compared to mine.

    Quote Originally Posted by Christina S View Post
    All gorgeous and worthy of National Geographic! #3 and #5 are my favourites... Thank you for sharing your photos. Indeed we are very fortunate to be able to view your photos, as you set a standard of excellence in nature photography to aspire for.
    Not that it really needs to be said again, but I have to agree with that. I'm sure Dan is getting tired of hearing these kind of comments all the time, but credit where credit is due

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