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Bear-ly Enough Light

Tales from the Trail

I can bear-ly believe it’s the weekend again! I missed posting this on Tuesday, as I had my hands full with Nukka after she found a porcupine during our walk… that’s a tale for another day!

I found a bear in a spot in Algonquin Park where I’ve seen them fairly frequently. The grass is tall and black bears are considerably smaller than many imagine, so it’s easy to write them off as a dark patch in the landscape and keep going. So few things in nature are black, however, so the presence of something VERY dark should raise suspicion.

I pulled over and rolled down my passenger side window, so I could take a few photos from my car. The bear was grazing and didn’t even lift its head to acknowledge me, which is ideal in my books! So I simply waited patiently for it to move to a spot where I could get a clearer shot.

It was a dull day with a light mist and I was losing light quickly as the sun started to dip down below the trees. Cars and trucks sped past me, none the wiser.

I’d had enough of contorting my body to try to keep a clear view through the open window, so I decided to exit my car and hunker down by the passenger door to try to get a better angle.

The bear continued to graze, moving around the landscape with purpose, still not paying any attention to me.

Finally, the bear moved into a clearing, which was actually significantly farther from me than where it started. Annnd then the rain came pelting down.

A black bear walks along a bank beside the water among tall grass.
A black bear forages in Algonquin Park in the rain.

No light, a heavy rain, and an increased distance from my subject meant the conditions were less than ideal. I was shooting at 560mm, using a 1.4 extender on my EF100-400mm f/5.6-6.3 lens, which means the maximum aperture I could shoot at was f/8. To improve my exposure, I cranked up my ISO to 16,000 and dropped my shutter speed to 1/250 (the bear was walking, so I couldn’t drop it further).

While not the cleanest image, I’m thrilled with this capture. A wild being accepted me as part of the landscape and continued with its normal behaviour, which allowed me to observe this gorgeous animal forage for food in its natural environment.

If you’re interested in wildlife photography, join me this spring in Algonquin Park as we search for wildlife to photograph!

📷 @helengrosephotography


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