My Comments on: For Your Critique: Image #4

brown-bear-w-pink-salmon-lighter-tight-on-claws-_e0w4949-geographic-harbor-katmai-national-park-ak

This image was created with the with the tripod-mounted Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens and the EOS_1D Mark III (since replaced by the EOS-1D Mark IV). ISO 800. Evaluative metering at zero: 1/320 sec. at f/4 in Manual mode.

In the old days before I went to rear focus full time I probably used central sensor/One-Shot AF to focus on the fish’s eye but it is possible that I was in AI Servo and focused on the fish just beyond the claws and the eye of the fish…. Click here if you missed the Rear Focus Tutorial. Lens/TC/camera body Micro-adjustment: +4. For a greater appreciation of the image, click on the photo. Then click on the enlarged version to close it.

My Comments on “For Your Critique: Image #4″

On August 1, 2011 I posted For Your Critique: Image #4. It was entered in the WPOTY category: Behavior: Mammals. When this bear caught a salmon and walked right towards me I was a bit frazzled as it stopped to dine only 20 feet away. At first I was confused as to what type of image to create. I did not have an intermediate zoom lens on my shoulder. I knew that I needed to remove the 1.4X TC. That done I looked through the viewfinder, saw the eye of the fish between those big claws, and visualized the image that I wanted to create. I have always loved this image and thought that it might do well in a contest or two. It has not.

Several folks inferred that the subject matter was inappropriate mentioning the “poor salmon getting its guts ripped out.” Gore sells. Gore wins contests. Bears gotta eat…. As for me, I am always rooting for the predator. One poster mentioned that images like this had (pun intended) been done to death. Though I have seen lots of close-ups of bears eating fresh-caught salmon I have never seen one even remotely similar to this. Mary Stamper as she almost always does, saw things exactly as I did when she wrote: “I like the image as it is. To me, it is mostly about the eye between the claws. I like the way my eye first grabs the red flesh and then slides down the fish body to meet up with the eye between the claw. Then you realize that it’s a bear. That’s just about a perfect visual manipulation to me. A very engaging and arresting, not to mention startling, image.

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Shopper’s Guide

Below is a list of the gear used to create the image in this blog post. Thanks a stack to all who have used the Shopper’s Guide links to purchase their gear as a thank you for all the free information that we bring you on the Blog and in the Bulletins. Before you purchase anything be sure to check out the advice in our Shopper’s Guide.

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Canon 500mm f/4L IS lens. 500mm is the most popular telephoto focal length with a wonderful blend of reach, ease of handling, and relatively light weight. I owned two of these at one time and loved them to death. This focal length will soon be replaced with a Series II model that will be smaller and lighter and feature 4-stop IS. I can’t wait :) To learn more about the news lenses start here.
Canon EOS-1D Mark IV professional digital camera body. My two Mark IVs are my workhorse digital camera bodies.

And from the BAA On-line Store:

LensCoats. I have a LensCoat on each of my big lenses to protect them from nicks and thus increase their re-sales value. All my big lens LensCoat stuff is in Hardwood Snow pattern.
LegCoat Tripod Leg Covers. I have four tripods active and each has a Hardwood Snow LegCoat on it to help prevent further damage to my tender shoulders :)
Gitzo GT3530LS Tripod. This one will last you a lifetime.
Mongoose M3.6 Tripod Head. Right now this is the best tripod head around for use with lenses that weigh less than 9 pounds. For heavier lenses, check out the Wimberley V2 head.
CR-80 Replacement Foot for Canon 800. When using the 800 on a Mongoose as I do, replacing the lens foot with this accessory lets the lens sit like a dog whether pointed up or down and prevents wind-blown spinning of your lens on breezy days by centering the lens directly over the tripod.
Double Bubble Level. You will find one in my camera’s hot shoe whenever I am not using flash.
Be sure to check out our camera body User’s Guides here.
The Lens Align Mark II. I use the Lens Align Mark II pretty much religiously to micro-adjust all of my gear an average of once a month and always before a major trip. Enjoy our free comprehensive tutorial here.

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13 comments to My Comments on: For Your Critique/Image #4

  • avatar cheapo

    I’ve been veggy for 25 years, but this image is a natural event, superbly captured. Animals do what they have to, I have no probs with that, but can choose to live outside nature. :¬) Ironically, if the focus had been perfect on the fishes eye, the gory part would have been slightly OOF, making veggies everywhere feel a bit better. ;¬)

  • avatar Troy

    Re: Margaret
    While i myself don’t think this image is inappropriate, please don’t assume that everyone who actually finds it inappropriate eats meat. There’s a lot of vegetarians out there :)

  • Very dramatic image. Yes, bears gotta eat, too. Anyone who thinks it is inappropriate to view nature in this way should visit a slaughter house where their steak is born, or a fishing vessel where their salmon filet starts. I feel nature does a much better job of regulating predator/prey relationships than we do.

  • I agree with Mary Stamper’s well-thought-out comment but, if this image is all about the eye between the claws, I feel it would be much better with more DOF in that area – especially for such a finely detailed close-up. The lower part of the eye is slightly out of focus and the claw nearest the camera is well out of focus . . . as mentioned elsewhere, the brown stone certainly doesn’t help either. Although the extenuating circumstances are obvious, perhaps the judges felt the same way?

  • I love this. The fact that the bear was 20 feet away is hair-raising. I can image your heart was pounding harder. And the thought of possibly having to remove the 1.4X would be a little un-nerving as you’d have to take some attention away from the bear/bear’s distance in so doing. What a rush to realize you were capturing the claws and eye…neat…neat…neat!!

  • avatar Roger Williams

    I don’t believe I commented on the original post. However, Mary Stamper sums up my thoughts. Fantastic image. Great moment, great impact.

  • avatar cheapo

    It’s a great image, and I’ll reiterate that the only thing that could really improve it would be to loose that brown stone.

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