Sunday, October 11, 2020


Image of mother black bear
A mother black bear with her two cubs behind her.
 I love photographing bears!  Well, let me back up.  I love seeing bears on a hike or backpack.  For me, it adds to the experience of the trip and generally guarantees me coming home with a smile on my face, no matter how the rest of the trip may have been.

Being able to photograph bears takes the experience to an all new level.  It also requires much more planning, preparation and heavier camera equipment than I would typically take on a hike.  This is because larger lenses are required.  I would say a minimum 300mm lens to be successful, but larger would be better.

Image of black bear cub eating berries
A bear cub reaches high up for berries on a bush.
My "go to" lens is my 200mm 2.8 lens coupled with a 2x teleconverter, equaling 400mm total focal length.  This allows me to photograph from a safe distance away so as not to disturb the animals in their natural environment.  

The three images appearing here were taken over about a 40 minute span, requiring much patience to catch the glance of the bear.  I missed a couple of opportunities, admittedly.  Three quality images in 40 minutes of work?  Yep.  Because the bears were at ease and pretty much ignoring me.  Coming back with 30 quality images would mean I likely had the bear's undivided attention, which would mean I was disturbing them and causing undue stress, not to mention risking my own well-being.

These images were recently taken from a trail at Mount Rainier National Park.  Much of the time was actually shared with a volunteer park staff member as we watch the cubs feed!  We were both pretty giddy and had permanent smiles on our faces!

Image of black bear cub
A bear cub glances around its surroundings while nibbling
on berries.
This brings up another helpful hint when wishing to photograph bears.  Truly wild black bears in the Pacific Northwest are typically afraid of their own shadow.  They spook easily and run at the slightest sound or movement.  I have found the best places to photograph bears are in national parks where they are somewhat accustomed to the presence of humans.  I have enjoyed my best opportunities in Yellowstone, Olympic and Mount Rainier, and close to populated areas of the parks (not in the backcountry).

My new website is still a work in progress and I have not uploaded my Wildlife Gallery yet.  Hopefully this will happen soon!  However, you can view my landscape photography from all over the Western U.S. and Canada at

As always, thanks for looking!  Stay safe!

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