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Action Photography: Tips on Photographing Moving Bears (plus 1 Little Secret)

Posted on Sept 14th, 2023

Capturing the essence of grizzly bears in their natural habitat is a wildlife photographer's dream. The sheer power, beauty, and unpredictability of these magnificent creatures make them a captivating subject. 

However, taking action shots of grizzlies can be a daunting task. These bears are agile, fast, and always on the move, making action photography both exhilarating and challenging. 

In this post, we'll delve into the world of action photography, with a special focus on grizzly bears. 

You'll discover essential tips and techniques to freeze the dynamic moments of these bears in motion, whether they're hunting for salmon in wild rivers or playfully interacting with each other. 

Plus, we'll unveil one little secret that can elevate your grizzly bear action shots to the next level.

Understanding the Grizzly Bear's Behavior

Before embarking on an action photography adventure with grizzly bears or other wild animals, it's crucial to understand their behavior. Grizzlies are known for their unpredictable movements, which makes predicting their actions essential for capturing the perfect shot. 

Here are some key insights:

  • Study Their Habits: Spend time observing grizzly bears in their natural environment. Learn about their feeding patterns, daily routines, and favored hunting grounds. This knowledge will help you anticipate their actions and be in the right place at the right time.
  • Identify Action Moments: Grizzly bears exhibit a wide range of behaviors, from fishing for salmon to playful sparring. Identify the moments when action is most likely to occur. This could be during a hunt, a chase, or interactions with other bears.

Now, let us help you pick the right gear for your action photography tour.

Choosing the Right Gear for Action Photography

Selecting the appropriate gear is essential for action photography. When it comes to photographing grizzlies, here are some considerations:

Cameras and Lenses

Opt for a camera with a fast burst rate and excellent autofocus capabilities. A DSLR or mirrorless camera with a telephoto lens is ideal for capturing distant action. A zoom lens with a focal length between 200mm and 400mm provides versatility in composing your shots.

Essential Accessories

Bring along a sturdy tripod or monopod to stabilize your shots. A lens hood can help reduce glare and protect your lens from rain or debris. Consider using a lens with image stabilization to keep your photos sharp.

Mastering the Art of Tracking and Panning

Tracking and panning are essential techniques for action photography. Grizzly bears move quickly, so it's vital to follow their motion while maintaining focus.

First, keep both eyes open when looking through your viewfinder. This helps you anticipate the bear's movement outside the frame. Use your camera's continuous autofocus mode to track the bear as it moves.

Second, practice your panning skills to achieve stunning action shots. Panning involves moving your camera in the same direction as the subject's motion while keeping it in the frame. This technique creates a sense of movement in the image while keeping the subject in focus.

Nailing the Timing for Action Shots

Timing is everything in action photography. Capturing the decisive moment when a grizzly bear leaps into a river or snatches a salmon from the water requires precise timing. 

Here are some tips:

  • Shutter Speed and Aperture Settings: Set your camera to a high shutter speed (1/500 to 1/1000 seconds) to freeze fast-moving subjects. Use a wide aperture (f/2.8 to f/5.6) to create a shallow depth of field and make your subject stand out.
  • Continuous Shooting Mode: Enable your camera's continuous shooting mode to capture a series of images in rapid succession. This increases your chances of capturing the perfect action moment.

One Little Secret to Elevate Your Grizzly Bear Shots

Here's how to take your grizzly bear action shots to the next level: focus on the eyes. A bear's eyes are incredibly expre ssive and can convey a wide range of emotions. When photographing bears in action, make sure their eyes are sharp and in focus. This draws the viewer's attention and adds depth and emotion to your shots.

Safety Guidelines for Photographing Bears

Photographing grizzly bears in the wild requires responsible and ethical practices. Ensuring your safety and the well-being of the bears is paramount. 

Here are some guidelines to follow:

  • Maintain a Safe Distance: Always respect the bears' space and maintain a safe distance. Use telephoto lenses to get close-up shots without approaching the bears.
  • Bear-Proof Your Gear: Bears are curious creatures and may investigate your equipment. Store your gear safely and securely to avoid any unwanted interactions.
  • Travel with an Experienced Guide: When photographing grizzly bears, it's best to be join a photography tour and be accompanied by an experienced guide who understands bear behavior and can ensure your safety.

Wrapping Up

In conclusion, capturing action shots of grizzly bears is an exhilarating and rewarding experience for wildlife photographers. Understanding their behavior, choosing the right gear, mastering tracking and panning, and nailing the timing are essential skills. And don't forget the little secret: focusing on their expressive eyes. However, safety and ethical practices should always be a top priority when photographing these majestic creatures.

If you're eager to embark on a grizzly bear action photography adventure, consider booking our Grizzly Bear Photo Tour at Capture Wild Alaska.

For inquiries and bookings, please contact us at (907) 799-7876 or [email protected]. It's time to capture the wild in all its glory.

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