polar bear swim

One of the results of me going through all my old slides and picking a few to be scanned (by Scancafe) is that I had some fun looking at old images and reliving old memories that had faded with time. The memories are always fond but not all the images I see are always perfect. Many, I now wish, shouldn’t been photographed differently- they would’ve been better.

The photo above I took in 1990 or so on the northern coast of Hudson’s Bay, Canada. At the time I was doing a lot of scouting of arctic lodges to take trips to (yes, it was wonderful) so the lodge owners went out of their way to show me what the possibilities were for photography.

This lodge was on Wager Bay and they specialized in taking clients out in small boats to photograph summering polar bears. Because it was warm to a polar bear they spent a lot of time swimming in the cold water. On this occasion I was in a small boat with just the guide looking around the shore looking for bears in the water. They weren’t hard to find but they were hard to get close to- most just veered away and headed back to land making photography difficult at best.

This bear was a large male. In fact, he was longer in the water than the boat I was in! This must’ve given him a very confident sense of security because he didn’t pay any attention to us at all. We were able to come up along side him and I was able to get a full head shot with just a 70-200mm zoom lens. Pretty amazing as I recall.

The problem with the image is that I composed too close. I should’ve zoomed back a tad to give the bear a bit more room in the frame. I look at the image now and keep expecting him to rum into the lefthand side of the frame! I do remember shooting al lot of film- I was handholding in a moving boat photographing a moving bear with manual focus. I’m glad I got anything!

If I were to photograph a swimming bear now I would frame larger to give it more space and then fine tune the crop on my computer. Pull his head back from the left side, raise him up in the frame to give his reflection some more room andI would  balance the exposure in Lightroom.

Then again this image was the second photo I got into the prestigious Sierra Club calendar so I probably complain too much. But still…..