Alaska, Aleutian Islands, Brooks Falls, Brown Bears, Gulf of Alaska, Katmai National Park, Kulik River, Mount Denali, Natural Habitat Adventures, Northern Lights, Prince William Sound, Talkeetna, Whittier
Ellen and I recently returned to Alaska where we had not been for more than 15 years. We had been in this wonderful part of our country at least four previous times, starting when our daughters were quite young. For us, it has been and continues to be mesmerizing-captivating-enthralling-breathtaking-extraordinary. Definitely one of our favorite parts of this country.
This trip was a combination of six days with the NatHab Adventures group and five days on our own. We started out in Anchorage, visiting a new friend who has lived there for many years and spent the better part of our first day meandering through the Chugash mountain range enjoying the blue skies, clear air, crisp temperatures, and a beautiful drive outside of the city.
The first evening we met our NatHab leader and the eight other members of the group, half of whom were serious photographers (as in more serious than Ellen) and far more knowledgeable than we were about brown bears. We flew an hour and half southwest to the Alaska Peninsula and the small town of King Salmon, pretty much at the beginning of the Aleutian Islands.
For each of the next four days we flew by float plane into the Katmai Natural Park, Brooks Falls, and an even more isolated area on the Kulik River. The object was to photograph and observe the brown bears as they captured the remaining salmon before the long winter ahead. Each day we spent 5-6 hours (in temperatures hovering around the low forties) waiting and watching, watching and waiting. Imagine the clicks of the serious photographers when these wild creatures appeared. (We didn’t have to wait long at any point.)
The seven pictures below are from this part of the trip, and a longer slide show can be accessed from the link at the bottom of this post.
(There will be a second post, probably not for a couple of weeks, from the remaining part of our trip to Whittier and Prince William Sound on the Gulf of Alaska, Mount Denali, and Talkeetna, where for three nights Ellen was learning how to photograph the night sky and the Northern Lights).
To see Ellen’s 47 photo slide show of our time with the brown bears, use this link: Alaska and the Katmai Brown Bears.
For the best viewing, click on the little arrow at the top right of the first page of the link to start the slide show. If the slide show appears to start in the middle, scroll to the top of the page where you’ll see the little arrow in a box. Click on it.
See all the photos in the largest size possible (use a laptop or desktop computer if you have access to either). They are much sharper, and the larger format presents them in much more detail than the ones above or if you only look at the opening page of the slide show.
janet brown said:
Have you submitted to National Geographic?
Judy White said:
Wow. These are terrific, Ellen. I mean, I can see individual eyelashes. How far away were you from the bears? Maybe we should seriously consider a trip to Alaska. Probably mostly hiking. We’ll have to pick your brains.
Ellen Miller said:
The closest we came to the bears — or rather the bears came to us — was about 3 feet. We sat still and let them approach. (There was one time when a cub walked a bit closer than that next to Richard, but he resisted reaching out to touch it!) I was shooting with a 70 to 300mm lens which made it seem as though we were very close. In Brooks Falls we were on walkways with railings between us and them most of the time. In another area in the Katmai region we were just sitting on a small island as the lake, fisherman, bears, and boaters flowed around us. Add mild temps in the low 40’s and beautiful blue skies every day and it was pretty much heaven.
Nancy Johnson said:
Your photography is captivating Ellen!! How brave of you and Richard to get soooo close to those wild bears!!
Land Wayland said:
Beautiful. Bears just being bears and not trying to impress the tourists. Three feet would be a bit too close for me but they all seemed to be very relaxed so they must have done it many times. Thanks for sharing
Awesome pictures! I am glad those weren’t hungry bears.
( @ @ )
( >< )
Liz Frost said:
Wonderful photography!! The detail in the second black and white, bear in the reeds, unbelievable. Had forgotten detail capture by the lens.