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Posts Tagged ‘white’

Recently, I’ve seen a National Geographic Magazine documentary about the selection and making of their best ten 2011 photographs. You can see all ten photographs at:  Top Ten 2011 NGM Photos

I liked best the spirit bear story and the photo of the white bear laying contently in the moss-draped green rain forest. If you ignore the bloody salmon between his paws, the bear looks almost angelic in that setting. However, the report of the photographer coming to the close proximity of the bear is the really dangerous stuff. According to Chris Johns, Editor in Chief at NGM:

“Paul Nicklen, the photographer is a master at getting closer. He gets close enough to take this beautiful forest with this beautiful bear, eating a salmon, and make it all come together in a photograph that captures your imagination. I feel like I’m there. I can almost smell that forest, the bear. This is Paul’s home. This looks like a photo he took in his backyard of a dear friend.”

To see the whole series of the spirit bear photographs, click on the following link White Spirit Bear Photos

Western Canada is the only place in the world that’s home to this unusual form of black bear, whose fur is white due to a genetic abnormality (it’s not an albino). The white spirit bear is also called kermode, and with total population of about 200, it is a more rare species than the panda bear.

Paul Nicklen reports that he spent two months looking for the bear, when “this incredible big white male came right beside me about three feet away, he grabbed a fish and ate it. I then spent my entire day living my childhood dream – walking through the forest with this bear. I actually got to sleep within three feet of him and photograph him. It was a truly amazing experience.”

I have to confess that about twelve years ago in northern Ontario, I came close enough to a large black bear to feed him an apple. Right between his teeth.  OK, it was a captive bear in a large fenced-in enclosure, and I went in with a warden, but if we had ran out of apples, that bruin could have made a winter food cache of both of us. Mellow fellow, but really big, and drooling too much for my taste. All this white foam coming out of the black mouth from the shooter’s perspective was just too contrasty, and trust me, not a pretty picture. It seems that Pavlov’s conditioning experiment works also on bears – he definitely associated our visit with food.

I’m glad for Paul that he was able to fulfill his childhood dream and walk all day through the forest with the bear, but reports like this may entice some well-meaning hikers to approach wild black or grizzly bears, and these encounters often end tragically. As reported in my previous post, just last month in Alaska, a large grizzly bear killed and partially devoured an experienced hiker who got too close to the bear.

Hiker, killed by a grizzly

Now, it could well be, that the bears on a salmon diet are much calmer and of a better disposition than the grizzlies grazing on Denali tundra or starved black bears during a dry summer in Algonquin Park. I can attest that after eating a smoked or grilled Pacific salmon I feel also at peace with the world around me.

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Another year, another whitewater race.

The Open Canoe Slalom Race 2011 took place on the weekend September 10th and 11th in Minden, Ontario, the weather was perfect, and we had a great turnout in terms of paddlers and boats.

River rescue - click to see the photobook

I was photographing the event on both days – primarily with a Canon T2i and a prime 200mm/2.8L lens, and with a Nikon D300 equipped with 70-300mm and 70-200 VR zoom lenses. The light conditions were challenging – harsh light and dark shadows in the sun and quite dark in the upper stretch of the river that was shaded from both sides with tall trees. And those boats move fast!

It would be great to see the absolute differences between the three long lenses, but the comparison was difficult because each shot was captured under different conditions. What became obvious is that in good light all three lenses deliver great results and that the light, shutter speed, aperture, and the angle under which you shoot are much more important that the actual lenses.

The 70-200mm/2.8 Nikkor zoom lens, although quite heavy, focused fast and accurately throughout its entire range, and was a pleasure to use. The Canon camera and 200mm/2.8 lens combo was the lightest, focused also very fast and the lens has perhaps the nicest bokeh of the three. In good light, even the relatively inexpensive 70-300VR Nikkor performed admirably (especially in the tested 100-200mm range), but it did not resolve the details as well as the other two lenses, while the dark river sections constituted a challenge and introduced a lot of noise even for the Canon 200mm/2.8L prime lens. (To be fair, in that light the weakest point was the sensor and not the glass).

The entire whitewater section of Gull River is relatively narrow, everywhere you are relatively close to the action, and from most vantage points you can fill the frame even with a 55-200mm lens. On a few occasions, I dialed up the Nikkor 70-300mm lens all the way to 300mm, but at its maximum aperture of 5.6 sometimes you have to compromise the speed and the resulting sharpness.

As a side note, there are a few tight spots on the river to experiment also with a wide or short telephoto lens, and Glenn, my shooting buddy got some interesting shots even with a 12-24mm zoom.

Here are some images from Sunday, Sept. 11th. The small web-sized pictures (reduced from 12-18MP twenty times to about 0.5 MP) don’t do justice to the actual images, but they all look great at full resolution, and would print nicely in 8×12″ or even larger size.

Nikon D300, Nikkor 70-300mm ED VR - ISO 250, 140mm, F5.6, 1/2500s

Nikon D300, Nikkor 70-300mm ED VR - ISO 250, 185mm, F5.6, 1/2500s

Canon T2i, 200mm EF prime - ISO 200, 200mm, F2.8, 1/4000

Canon T2i, 200mm EF prime - ISO 200, 200mm, F2.8, 1/4000

Nikon D300, Nikkor 70-200mm VR - ISO 200, 200mm, F2.8, 1/5000s

Nikon D300, Nikkor 70-200mm VR - ISO 200, 200mm, F2.8, 1/2500s

More images from the river in the photo book by Blurb

See also slalom images at the Shutterstock site

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The Whitewater Slalom National Championships were held at the Gull River Wild Water Preserve on Saturday July 31st and Sunday August 1st in Minden, Ontario. This stretch of river is beautiful, the conditions were ideal with sunny weather and high water levels, and the event was attended by the top slalom racers.

Here are some action shots from the event.


Click here to see a video clip

Minden 2010 National Championship Slalom Book

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