Grizzly Bear Picnic

by valrac4_a3kqdy

Embedded: Gentec’s West Coast Tour, Part 3 of 3

© David Tanaka

Our destination is the Orford River, which exits into Bute Inlet. We dock and meet our First Nations guides, who will drive us up river to spots where grizzlies are known to hang out. The salmon are running, so the chances are good we’ll see some bears.

We have to sign waivers—so you won’t sue us if you get eaten by a grizzly, they say half jokingly. But it is serious business. We may be as close as several metres from them and our three guides are constantly watching the bears that are in plain view and scanning for any that aren’t.

It would be easy to believe that the grizzlies are card-carrying ACTRA members. They come out in one’s, two’s, or three’s, put on their bear-fishing show and then exit back into the brush, leaving the audience begging for more. One bear moseys up the stream, stops right in front of us at a fallen tree that’s snagged in the middle of the river. He puts on a half hour show before wandering off.

Ethan Meleg

Ethan Meleg with Sigma 120-300 mm f/2.8

On a tripod the 120-300 mm Sigma is easy to manage. A familiar rhythm sets in: zoom, frame, focus, click. I take a bit of video with the D800, and also take some candid photos of our group with Sigma’s 19 mm f/2.8 mounted on my Olympus PEN. It’s a nice focal length for that kind of shooting—a bit tighter than a 35 mm on a full frame, and a hair wider than the 20 mm f/1.7 Panasonic lens I use a lot with that camera.

Back at the lodge looking at the day’s catch on my notebook computer, I know I’ve got some keepers. It’s only when I get home and eyeball the images 1:1 on my 27-inch monitor that I’m jumping for joy.

Previous installments: Embedded: Gentec’s West Coast Tour and What do you say to a Steller Sea Lion?

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