polar bear

Polar Bear in the mist


Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic Scooting around in the fog in our zodiacs we were slicing through very thin sea ice up in the arctic. Always cognizant that a polar bear could be anywhere we were keeping a careful eye out. The best thing about travelling with other people is that what would be one pair of eyes is now 10 pairs scouring the misty veil that surrounds us. I was more concentrating on not hitting a large iceberg while driving the zodiac when someone exclaimed “I saw a blob move over there!” It took nearly a minute to fully locate this figure until it popped up from the surrounding white and stood out like an anvil on the horizon.

Photographic Details: It was relatively dark out there with the heavy fog obscuring a lot of the light. I bumped it up to ISO 200 to increase the sensitivity but used the slowest shutter speed and most open aperture I could. I knew I would have to process this image a lot to get the details back, and a higher ISO could present a bit of a problem in this regard as it degrades the image the higher I go

1/400s f/5.6 ISO200 400mm

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Polar Bear Tracks


Svalbard, Norwegian Arctic Left on the sea ice from a polar bear that we could just see on the horizon in Svalbard. This is going to be a much rarer sight as the extent of sea ice is diminished every year, which is the important platform polar bears need to hunt for seals.

The fact that the bear has left his prints on the very surface that it depends on creates a very powerful narrative about the problem these animals face today.

Looking for a unique approach to polar bear photography I saw these tracks I knew this would help complete my polar bear portfolio as nobody really shares photos like these. So much about these animals is written in the snow: The long hair around the paws of the bear have brushed the surface of the snow and left streaks in exquisite detail, illustrating how the bear seems to shuffle across the ice. They can walk at great speeds on the ice but have to be careful not to overheat given the relative warmth of the Arctic summer and their great adaptations in conserving heat. The wide spread of the 12 inch paws act like natural snowshoes keeping the bear above the surface for optimal arctic travelling.

Photographic details: Taken with a 400mm lens shooting downwards from the bow of the ship as we parked ourselves in this ice flow. The tracks were actually barely visible with the naked eye given the flat light. I had to open the raw file and darken down the image considerably to get more detail out of the image. The results were far more detailed than I could have ever seen in real life, making for an image that actually captures the drama behind these animals.




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