Is your life worth the image?

Started Aug 26, 2012 | Discussions thread
mrxak
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Re: Is your life worth the image?
In reply to Funduro, Sep 11, 2012

I was in Sequoia National Park and saw many cars pulled off to the side of the road. Pulling off and looking down the slope, I saw a group of people taking pictures and video of a couple black bear cubs ripping apart a log, looking for food or just playing. The bears were rather close, and I had my camera so of course I wanted to take some pictures as well. But, unlike many of the excited people there, I kept my distance. I didn't get close, I stayed calm and alert, and I'm not ashamed to admit I kept some people in between me and the bears. I got some rather great pictures without disturbing the bears or putting myself in danger, and when I saw mommy coming over from the side of the group of people, I went back to my car and left. Now a black bear is no grizzly, but they're definitely wild and dangerous animals, and I would not want to make a mother bear nervous about her cubs.

That wasn't my first opportunity to photograph bears, and it wasn't my last. I hope to do so again many times for many species of bear. But it's important to stay calm and alert. When you see cubs, assume mommy is nearby, and it's a good idea to get eyes on her before you get too close, and back off if she takes an interest in you. If you see a lone adult bear, assume there are cubs nearby, or food, or that the bear may be territorial for some other reason. There may be other adults nearby that you don't see. Keep a safe distance, make sure the bear knows you're there, and that you're human, by using your voice. The last thing you want to do is surprise a bear, or give it any confusion about your role in the animal kingdom. Don't get so lost in your viewfinder that you lose situational awareness.

I'm sure I'll miss out on some great pictures I might get taking more risks getting closer to bears, but I'd rather spend a long and healthy life enjoying the pictures I take than take the best picture possible and maybe never actually get to see it framed.

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