Late afternoon light with mother and cub in bear paradise. Sigma 150-600 sports lens @ 600mm and Nikon D810, 1/1250s, f/8, ISO 1000, EV + .3, Manual mode, Auto-ISO, handheld.
Amazing opportunities and experiences
My time in August with my tour participants was unforgettable. Its really difficult to put some experiences into words. One of my most memorable experiences was one morning my group and I were out alone and at one point we had six brown bear mothers with cubs all around us fishing and not paying any attention to us. Not one other tour group even bothered to turn up that day. On another day a second year cub really surprised everyone by repeatedly catching salmon just like a pro, without help from it's mother!
Second year cub playing with a salmon. Sigma 150-600 sports lens @ 290mm and Nikon D810, 1/500s, f/14, ISO 1000, EV - .7, Manual mode, Auto-ISO, handheld.
At Hallo we had a cross fox spend at least 40 minutes hanging around showing off in front of us. The funny thing was that we had a mother bear with two second year cubs close by but all lenses were focused on the fox!
Portrait of Mr Cross Fox with fireweed background. Sigma 150-600 sports lens @ 600mm and Nikon D810, 1/1250s, f/8, ISO 1000, EV + .3, Manual mode, Auto-ISO, handheld.
Over our two weeks we split out time between Hallo and Geo with lots of strategic landings at selected spots in between. At some of the usual spots like Geographic we did have lots of other groups on the river at the same time, it is the peak time after all, but if you know your way around Katmai you know there even better locations.
Pink salmon just waiting to make a break for it. Sigma 150-600 sports lens @ 360mm and Nikon D810, 1/500s, f/11, ISO 2800, Manual mode, Auto-ISO, handheld.
The conditions this year were very very good with lots of salmon at all the spots and we had just enough rain to increase the river flows but not so much that it was a problem for photography. Our timing could not have been better since the first winter storm warning of the year was issued the very next day after the last day of the tour and Alaska got slammed.
For a photographer it doesn't get much better than Hallo bay in the late afternoon. Sigma 150-600 sports lens @ 600mm and Nikon D810, 1/2000s, f/7.1, ISO 720, EV + .3, Manual mode, Auto-ISO, handheld.
All new this year
This year I tried something completely new reducing my tour group size to just four photographers while most other bear tour groups are increasing group sizes to make more profit. The two biggest advantages of a smaller tour group size is much less pressure and less effect on the bears when you are on the move. Also a smaller group will spend lots less time getting ready, moving and setting up so this a smaller group will always be more agile and efficient to be able to in the right spot when the conditions all come together.
Spring cubs on the lookout for mother bear. Sigma 150-600 sports lens @ 600mm and Nikon D810, 1/500s, f/7.1, ISO 500, EV + .3, Manual mode, Auto-ISO, handheld.
Smaller is better
Small tour group sizes are the way to go judging by the feedback I received this year. For 2016 I have scheduled three of these exclusive tours, two are already sold out even before I announce them. I will post more information about the new tours later this week but if you are interested email me right away. Right now I have 2016, 2017 and 2018 tour dates available if you are interested let me know right away.
Where else in the world can you come across a bear gnawed whale vertebra on a beach walk?
A big thanks to all of my awesome tour participants this summer, and special thanks to all of those that have re-signed for next year!
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