Tag Archives: bear

Black Bear Cub, Cinnamon Phase – and Happy Labor Day!

Black bear (Ursus americanus) cub, cinnamon phase, on a tree

Hey there, everyone – long time no hear, I know…

Apologies to all for the long dry spell, which has been due to work being absolutely crazy intense over the past couple of months. Just so you know, activity is going to be fairly slow for a while longer here as I am not out of the woods yet. Apologies also for not being able to participate in your wonderful blogs: I just can’t keep up right now. Bear with me, if you will.

I thought I would just quickly say hi as well as a very late Happy Labor Day to all in the U.S.

The image above is of a Black bear cub (Ursus americanus) in its cinnamon phase (which gives its fur a light brown color) perched up high on a tree.

If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to browse my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)

Walking on Thin Ice… One More Polar Bear

Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) crawling on thin ice

Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) crawling on thin ice

It has been quite a while since I published an image, so I thought I would put up a funny one, one that I really like about Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) because it shows the (deceivingly) goofy side of these white, fluffy and yet deadly giants.

Beside being funny, the image actually shows an interesting behavior: when they are approaching thin ice, polar bears assume this position and start crawling on the ice so that their considerable weight more evenly spreads out a wider surface, thus reducing the risk of breaking through the ice and going for a cold swim.

For more information about this image, please click on it. If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to browse my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)

Polar Bears

I am reblogging this post that was published today on The World According to Dina, a magnificent blog about the northern part of the world, photography, literature and symbolism.

The post is the result of a recent collaboration project on Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) between one of the authors of that blog, Dr Klausbernd Vollmar, a German-raised, English-resident psychologist, symbologist and author, and myself. When Klausbernd asked me if I wanted to be a part of this project, I was very excited and honored and of course I enthusiastically jumped on board!

More specifically, the post/article contains a part with general natural history information about polar bears (this is the portion that I researched and contributed) and a part dealing with the symbolism of the polar bear (which Klausbernd authored), plus a selection of my polar bear photographs.

I am very pleased of this collaboration and I think the end result shows the hard work that both of us put into it – but of course I will let you, dear readers, be the judge of it if you feel like visiting The World According to Dina (which I think you should, regardless of this specific post) and reading the article! Needless to say, your feedback would be most welcome! 🙂

Thanks,
Stefano

The World according to Dina

URSUS MARITIMUS
Der Eisbär

General Information
Polar bears are the largest land carnivores in the world and the most carnivorous of the bear species: they primarily feed on seals and, to a lesser extent, walrus and beluga whale. In search of their prey, they may often be found in areas of shifting, cracking ice where seals may surface to breathe air. Adult males (which are larger than females) measure up to 2,5 m in length and can weigh up to 720 kg!
Since they spend much of their time on Arctic sea ice, they have evolved to adapt to such extreme conditions: their white fur provides camouflage in their environment and is thicker than any other bears’, even covering their feet for both warmth and traction on ice; their skin is black to absorb heat from sun rays; and a thick layer of fat provides buoyancy and insulation. Polar bears…

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Valentine’s Day First Date?

CANADA, Churchill (Hudson Bay) Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) interacting

Because that’s what this image reminds me of when I see it! A clumsy kiss, some indecision mixed up with curiosity, you know… 😉 Anyway, Happy Valentine’s Day, wherever you are and whichever way you plan to celebrate it! 🙂

I took this photograph of Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) interacting in Canada’s Manitoba province, where every year many polar bears congregate in late Fall, waiting for the temperatures to drop so that the waters of the Hudson Bay freeze and the bears can venture out on the ice in search of their favorite food item – seals. More about this on a future post.

For more information about this image, please click on it. If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to brow. se my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)

Close Encounters of the Third Kind: Photographers & Brown Bear

Photographers and coastal brown bear (Ursus arctos)

I shot this image of a group of photographers that traveled on a ship from which they had been taken ashore by an inflatable boat in Katmai National Park (AK). After a while, a brown bear nonchalantly walked by them in search of salmon.

Since I was shooting into the sun, I opted for a silhouette, which simplifies the composition and gives the image more of a graphic feel. Shooting from a low angle of view makes viewers relate to the bear’s perspective. Finally, the compression effect that is typical of a telephoto lens, such as the one I used for this shot, emphasizes the feeling of closeness between the bear and the photographers.

What do you say: too close or just fine?

For more information about this image, please click on it. If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to browse my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)

Herculean Polar Bears

Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) confronting one another in a snow storm

With winter storm Hercules being the first big storm to hit New England in 2014, two mere days into the New Year, it only seems appropriate that I share another image from my Polar Bear Gallery, portraying two Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) play-fighting in a snow storm near Hudson Bay, in Canada’s Manitoba province: if you live in an affected area, stay warm! 🙂

For more information about this image, please click on it. If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to browse my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)

Happy Holidays!

Happy Holidays!

Just a quick note to wish you all Happy Holidays and a wonderful, peaceful and rewarding New Year! 🙂

For more information about this image, please click on it. If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to browse my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)

Black Bear, Cinnamon Phase

Black bear (Ursus americanus), cinnamon phase

On previous posts, I have shown images of a black bear cub (Ursus americanus) climbing a tree and a Spirit, or Kermode, bear (Ursus americanus kermodei), which is a rare subspecies of black bears who are born white because of a recessive gene present in the blood of both parents, but are not albino because their nose and eyes are black.

The image on this post shows a cinnamon black bear (Ursus americanus cinnamomum): sometimes these black bears are mistaken for brown or grizzly bears because of the color of their coat. Although there is no clarity as to what makes the fur of certain black bears take on this cinnamon brown color, evidence suggests that black bear coat colors vary as a mechanism of camouflage or because of climate and habitat.

So, while in the forested states east of the Great Plains, almost all black bears are black-furred, in western states that have mountain meadows and open forests, more than half of the black bears are brown or cinnamon. This is because lighter colored fur reduces heat stress in open sunlight and also helps bears camouflage from predators in open areas.

Sources: North American Bear Center; The American Bear Association; Ursus International

If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to browse my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)

Coastal Brown Bear Determination

USA, Katmai National Park (AK): Brown bear (Ursus arctos) running in the water

This is an image I took of a Coastal brown bear (Ursus arctos) in Katmai National Park, Alaska, sprinting in shallow water in pursuit of its favorite prey during the annual salmon run.

For more information about the salmon run in Alaska and how bears behave at that time of the year, please refer to my previous post about it.

Regarding the image itself, I think that the bear’s determined stare, the position of its front paw and claws, just about to hit the water, and the thousands of water droplets surrounding the running bear are the elements that make this photograph and, in my view, tell the story of a beautiful, powerful and elegant creature in its environment during a defining moment in its lifecycle.

The world population of brown bears is estimated at about 200,000 individuals, half of which are in Russia alone, with the US and Canada (with respectively 33,000 and 25,000 brown bears) coming in second and third place. Encroaching and hunting are two of the major threats to bear populations outside of protected areas.

If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to browse my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)

Alaskan Teddy Bear

Coastal brown bear (Ursus arctos) sitting up

In the summer, Alaskan coastal brown bears (Ursus arctos) congregate near the shores of the sea and other bodies of water waiting for wild salmon to come back to the very streams they were born in and swim upstream to reach the headwater gravel beds of their birth and lay their eggs. Clearly, this offers the bears a wonderful opportunity to hunt salmon and feed off of their flesh and especially their eggs, of which they are particularly fond.

The salmon run is particularly important to the bears because the hibernation period is fast approaching and brown bears enter a phase known as hyperphagia where they maximize their food intake (they can eat up to 90 pounds of food per day!) to build up sufficient fat reserves to survive the hibernation months.

However, sometimes the salmon are a little late on their spawning schedule… or the bears are a little early for the party, which means that the bears have some time to kill while they wait for their favorite prey to arrive. So bears go into “energy saving” mode and they just lazily hang out near the water waiting for their lunch to be served.

The coastal brown bear in the image above was just sitting in the sun near a river in Alaska’s Katmai National Park, probably daydreaming of the hordes of sockeye salmon it will soon start chasing all over the place…

To me, it looked just like a teddy bear neatly arranged in a sitting position by a toy store salesperson! 😉

If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to browse my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)

Raw Moves: Three Reasons for Shooting RAW Instead of Jpeg

Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) play-fightingCaption: Canada, Hudson Bay – Polar bears (Ursus maritimus) play-fighting

A while ago, the exquisite Fairy of the North, Dina (who so elegantly authors the blog The World According to Dina, masterfully combining her beautiful images with perfectly selected quotes to complement them) asked me if I would write a post about why I think anyone who shoots digital and takes his or her photography seriously should shoot RAW as opposed to straight off the camera Jpegs.

By the way, before we even get to the point, what is a RAW file, just in case you were wondering? A RAW file is essentially the equivalent of a film negative in the digital age. Every camera manufacturer has their own proprietary formats of files containing the raw (hence the name), unprocessed input captured by the sensor. In fact, RAW files are called in several different ways and have different extensions, depending on the various camera makers: for instance, Nikon’s are called NEF and Canon’s are called either CRW or CR2, depending on the models.

Unlike straight out of the camera Jpegs (which are the result of the camera’s computer processing the sensor data, making arbitrary choices that you as the photographer cannot control and producing a file format that is immediately viewable by anyone), RAW files need to be processed through specialized software such as the camera manufacturer’s proprietary processing software or third-party software such as Adobe PhotoShop or Lightroom or Apple Aperture and then converted to a usable file format, such as TIFF, PSD or Jpeg.

In essence, processing a RAW file requires more of the photographer’s time because he or she has choices to make (in terms of optimizing white balance, exposure, contrast, color balance/saturation, etc.) but puts the photographer back in control of his or her creative decisions and what’s best, in a totally non-destructive, reversible way (more on this later).

Having said that, here are the three main reasons why I think you should set your camera to shoot RAW instead of Jpeg:

1. Unlimited White Balance Adjustments: This is one of the most powerful reasons for choosing a RAW file over an in-camera Jpeg. In short: if for any reason you shoot an image using a white balance setting that is not optimal for the scene you are shooting and you have your camera set to produce a Jpeg file, then you are stuck with that suboptimal white balance and changing it (or at least improving it) will be a difficult and time-consuming task to be performed in your image processing software. If instead you shoot RAW, you can easily correct your white balance with just one click in your processing software. Done!

2. Lossless Process: Jpegs are image files that are considerably smaller than other formats. This is because they utilize a compression algorithm that is lossy, meaning that it discards a bunch of color information from the image to make the file smaller. The more you compress, the more subtle color transitions and image sharpness you lose. In addition, image data loss is cumulative, meaning that every time you save or re-save a Jpeg file, you lose information that cannot be recovered later on. If you shoot RAW instead, you retain all of the information captured by your camera’s sensor, forever. This means not only that, should you need to perform some intensive editing of your image you will have more information to work on, but also and more importantly that you will forever retain full access to all the information that the sensor originally captured.

3. Non-Destructive, Reversible Editing: If you shoot Jpeg and then edit your file in post processing you can then either keep it as a Jpeg when you save it (in which case, all your edits will become permanent AND you will experience image data loss when you save your processed Jpeg) or work using layers (if available in your processing software). The latter is definitely the way to go, because layers can always be discarded later on, should you wish to process your image differently. However, Jpegs do not support layers, so if you use them and want to retain them, you will have to save your processed file in a format that supports layers, such as TIFF or PSD which are both lossless formats but end up in bigger file sizes. Instead, if you shoot RAW and process your RAW file, all your edits will be stored in a so-called “sidecar file”, meaning a small text file that goes hand in hand with your RAW file and contains all the information about the edits that you performed. This means that your RAW file will never be altered and you will always be able to change any of your edits at any time in the future with no damage to your image file or information loss. Pretty cool, huh?

As a final note, even if after reading these compelling reasons for shooting RAW 😉 you were to choose to continue shooting in-camera Jpegs, at the very least make sure that as soon as you download them to your computer you immediately save them to a lossless image format: as we said earlier on, not only will this let you retain your adjustment layers if you so choose, but it will avoid image degradation every time you re-save that Jpeg.

Standing Tall

Brown bear (Ursus arctos) and fireweed

I took this image of a standing European brown bear (Ursus arctos) with a backdrop of colorful fireweed in the summer in Finland, near the Russian border.  That area is known to have a fairly high concentration of bears and the very long summer days contribute to keep you shooting. This particular bear stood momentarily to watch out for a big male that was in the vicinities and I managed to take a couple of shots before the action was over.

You all have a great weekend!

If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to browse my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)

Happy Mother’s Day!

In a rare (at least for this blog!) multi-image post, here’s to all the Mothers who enjoy reading Clicks & Corks and to the Mothers of all of our readers!

Which of these mommies do you, or your Mom, relate more to?  😉

Happy Mother’s Day!

Snow monkey (Macaca fuscata) nursing her baby

Protective?

Coastal brown bear (Ursus arctos) sow with cub

Romantic?

Black bear (Ursus americanus) sow play-fighting with cub

Playful?

Polar bear (Ursus maritimus) sow with cubs

Cuddly?

Black Bear Cub Climbing a Tree

Black bear (Ursus americanus) cub climbing a tree

Black bears (Ursus americanus) are proficient climbers. They use their curved claws to cling to the bark and quickly climb high into trees. Generally, they do it to escape danger (it is common behavior for cubs), to eat the nuts or fruit in the tree, or to rest or sleep at the juncture between branches and trunk. In this image, a young black bear is descending a tree after an excursion to the canopy. It is amazing to see how even little bears will climb quickly and with dexterity all the way to the top branches of tall trees and perch there for a nap, with no fear of heights.

By contrast, grizzlies have longer claws that are not as well suited for climbing, which makes them not as effective a tree climber as black bears. This does not mean, however, that grizzly bears cannot or will not climb a tree. They certainly can, they are only clumsier than black bears (given also their heavier structure) so to climb a tree they often resort to hugging the tree and pulling themselves up, using branches as if they were the steps of a ladder.

Anyway, should you experience a close encounter with a bear in the wild, follow sensible bear safety procedures and avoid climbing a tree because chances are that either species of bears will climb it at the very least as well as you can!

Some useful online resources about bears and their behavior can be found at:  

Bear Aware

Bear Country USA

Denali National Park and Preserve

National Geographic Magazine

North American Bear Center

If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to browse my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)

Sprinting Coastal Brown Bear

Sprinting Coastal Brown Bear (Ursus arctos)

Beside loving bears, which I find truly fascinating animals, I love Alaska: such beautiful country, most of which is still wild and pristine, notwithstanding human efforts to drill more oil out of it (will we ever get rid of so dirty an energy source?…)

I visited Alaska twice, and I hope I will be able to go back in not too long a time. The first time I went to Katmai National Park, and the second time back to Katmai (although in a different area) and then on to the Kodiak archipelago. Alaska and Katmai in particular are among the best places you may be at to observe and photograph coastal brown bears. These are often interchangeably called “grizzlies” but, although they both belong to the species Ursus arctos, coastal brown bears (as the name implies) prevalently live in coastal areas and tend to be bigger than grizzlies who are considered a distinct subspecies (Ursus arctos horribilis) and live inland, away from major bodies of water.

If you travel to Katmai in the Summer, chances are that you are going to witness one of the most exciting phenomena in the life cycle of a coastal brown bear: the salmon run. Around that time of the year, wild sockeye salmon enter their spawning phase, during which they somehow find their way back from the ocean to the very same river where they were born so that they can work their way upstream, reach the headwater gravel beds of their birth, lay their eggs and generally die within a couple of weeks (because when they return to their original freshwater environment, they stop eating and live off their fat reserves).

Clearly, brown bears are not indifferent to nature’s call that brings the salmon back to accessible waterways to reproduce. Since fall and then winter are fast approaching (and with them a long period of hibernation), brown bears enter a phase known as hyperphagia where they maximize their food intake (they can eat up to 90 pounds of food per day!) to build up sufficient fat reserves to survive the hibernation months. In this period, coastal brown bears congregate by the shore or next to river banks anxiously waiting for one of their favorite prey to arrive in huge numbers.

When salmon eventually comes, all hell breaks loose and bears start chasing salmon in shallow waters to catch them and eat them. Bears are especially fond of salmon eggs, so much so that, after a bear has eaten enough fish for a day, sometimes it keeps catching more salmon just to eat the eggs while discarding the rest (for the seagulls’ happiness).

While I was observing a group of about six bears chasing salmon in the estuary of a river in Katmai, this young bear started sprinting in my general direction in pursuit of a salmon (that eventually proved to be faster than the bear) and gave me a great opportunity to freeze the motion of the bear at the peak of the action. The low angle of the image (that I shot kneeling in the sand) accentuates the majestic nature of the bear and creates an eye-level connection with the animal. Hope you like it!

If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to browse my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)

A Valentine’s Day Polar Bear Hug

Polar Bear Hug (Ursus maritimus)

As some of you know, I love bears, of any species, and I love it whenever I have the opportunity to see them up close (in a safe way, of course), observe their behavior and photograph them. They make for great photo subjects.

This image was captured on a trip to the Western shores of Hudson Bay in Manitoba (Canada) where in or around late October/early November large numbers of polar bears (Ursus maritimus) congregate after hibernation waiting for the sea water to freeze so they can venture out on the ice to try and capture one of their favorite preys: seals.

While they hang out by the shore and wait for the temperatures to drop so as to make the magic happen once again, younger polar bears often kill time play-fighting. Witnessing this “boys will be boys” kind of rough game is fascinating, and if you keep your eye in the viewfinder long enough, with some luck you may photograph them while they strike poses that can look awkward, funny, dramatic or… just shweeeet like the one in this image, which two years ago these days was published as a Valentine’s Day poster insert in the Italian magazine Focus Junior.

However, appearances are sometimes deceiving because, in the “play-fight” portrayed in this image, the bear on the right was actually biting the other bear’s ear while holding its victim steady with its strong paws. You might therefore say that this image would be more appropriate to illustrate an ear piercing ritual of sort or that infamous “if you cannot beat them, bite them” Tyson vs Holyfield moment… 😉

Happy Valentine’s Day to those of you who celebrate it!

If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to browse my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you :-)

Spirit Bear

Spirit (or Kermode) Bear (Ursus americanus kermodei)

This image is dedicated to gracious Sarah at diary of a house elf and Kimberly at WhiskeyTangoFoxtrot4, two friends that like to hang out at Flora’s Table and two blogs that if you are not following already, you definitely should because you don’t know what you are missing: great photography, a lot of fun and… lots of wisdom too.

The reason why this image is dedicated to them is because they both live in beautiful British Columbia which, among many great things, is also home to the Spirit Bear (AKA Kermode Bear), which is the bear depicted in this image. Spirit Bears (Ursus americanus kermodei) are rare black bears that were borne white due to a recessive gene present in the blood of both their parents, but they are not albino. Being able to see, and even more to photograph, one does not happen often and when it does, it is a real treat.

If you would like to see more images of mine, feel free to browse my Galleries.

As per my copyright notice, please respect my work and do not download, reproduce or use the image above without first seeking my consent. Thank you 🙂