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Page 11 Ed Cordes (Part 2)

Written By onci on Sunday, August 30, 2009 | 7:22 AM

Photographing Grizzly Bear In Katmai National Park
By Ed Cordes
(Part 2 of 2)

There are also times when the bear would feed on clams they dig from the tidal flat mud. This is also a great opportunity to make fabulous images. The bear would feed on grass during fishing lulls and generally went about their business of being bear without being influenced by our presence. The bear knew we were there but knew we were not a threat so generally ignored us.

On at least 2 occasions we had the thrilling experience of having a Mom bear bring her 2 cubs around behind us to lie down to rest while a large male bear was not too far away. It was obvious she was using us to shield her family form the male. The male, in turn, respected our space and went about his business accepting the fact that he was going to leave the Mom and cubs alone.

Katmai National Park is in a remote area with varied weather. So, when traveling there you need to pack clothes so you can layer for all temperatures from the 40’s to 80’s F. We were there in July so your mileage may vary. Rain suits that really work are a must. Not only are you likely to have rain, you will want to get low for photography on sometimes wet ground.

Photographic equipment will vary by taste. However, at the least you will need telephoto lenses. I had a 100-400 zoom which was great for its flexibility. However, I now own a 500 and would certainly bring this as well. There are occasions when a 300 would have worked, but the tighter framing of the longer lenses is a major advantage. I thought a tripod was mandatory to support the heavy equipment. Charging of batteries is available in the central dining hut. A lap top, portable HD, or netbook is a must for uploading your full cards. Of course, it is always advisable to take a spare camera body in case your prime camera fails. Spending all the money and time only to be denied photography due to equipment failure should not be an option.

I hope this gives you a flavor of one of the best trips Gail and I have taken. Katmai and its bear are wonderfully wild. The experience of being so close to such magnificent animals and learning about their lives is unequaled. The opportunity to photograph them should be on any nature photographer’s list of “to do” things.

Ed Cordes
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