I also love to find and see wild animals, I have ever since I was a child. If I am up camping or out hiking, you can bet I am first enjoying the scenery, but second keeping my eyes out for nearby wildlife. Most of the time when I see something great, I don't have my camera with me, or don't get it out in time. However, on one of those rare moments that the camera is there, and I get the shot in, in time then I get some of these that you'll see below.
I captured this young Grizzly bear up near the Montana/Wyoming boarder in Yellowstone National Park. I love this picture because as I chased him around a little he walked into this meadow of multi-colored wildflowers. Let me tell you the other favorite part of this picture, no zoom was needed. I was lucky he came this close to me!
This is the same young grizzly, leaving me. I think he was annoyed that he was being followed around with a camera. Which brings me to my rules of capturing bears on camera at close range. Let them come to you. You can follow them a little after, but if you annoy them too much they will either just leave, or they could become violent. You can place yourself in bear country and walk around and wait, but if they come near you, are are likely more safe to photograph them, than if you sneak up on them (which I don't recommend ever doing!)
Sorry for the grainy quality of this picture. I had to use one of those disposable under water cameras.
The picture above, and below were taking off the North Shore in Oahu, Hawaii. The boat took us out a few miles so we could get out and enjoy diving with sharks.
We had several surrounding us the entire time. It was awesome! I hope to have the chance to do it again, and maybe in the future I can purchase a camera that the pictures will be a tad more clear underwater!
I took this picture in Capitol Reef National Park in Utah. My sister and I were out hiking in the back country in the hot June month and stopped to take a drink break. All of a sudden this Desert Bighorn Sheep jumped up out of his shade spot underneath the beautiful multi-colored rock you see in the background. He actually allowed me to get pretty close to him even for a few shots after this one, before he decided to go find some better peace and quiet elsewhere.
The three shots above were taken in the waters off of Kenai Fjords National Park Alaska. We were actually surrounded by close to 60 of these beautiful Orca's. These were just a few of my more favorite shots. Of course I never had the camera ready when they were jumping full out of the water.... But that is the story of my life. Still I loved capturing a few great shots of these beautiful creatures while they were playing and eating in the water.
I love spotting mountain goats up in the mountains. Its not as easy as you would think because these agile creatures get way high up in the tops of the rocky mountains and can get around in these high cliff area's amazingly at ease. These particular shots were taken up in Montana in Glacier National Park. I was lucky because they were all resting on the mountain close to where we were so it was easy to get a few great shots. If you've never had the opportunity to spot and watch mountain goats, this is something I highly recommend. Its amazing to see them walk around with their hooves on high cliff ledges, especially the cute young babies!
Above is the back of a Humpback Whale! My favorite humpback watching area's are in the Summer in Alaska, or in the winter months in Hawaii. The picture I chose above was actually taken in the icy waters off of Alaska, near the Seward area.
Elk are something I can easily say I have seen hundred's of in my lifetime. This is most definitely not the best shot I have, in fact I have some amazing close up shots of some trophy elk. But I'll save those for another time. That and they are on some of my other camera cards, that I can't remember at this exact time where I placed them:) Still the above shot is still of a beautiful one! This shot was taken in Wyoming, in Yellowstone National Park.
Seals are always easy to spot, along certain coasts. This large pack of them I took on one of the islands in Alaska, in the Northwestern Fjords area. A side note, the reason the rock they are on looks the way it does, it was once covered as likely a huge glacier, and the cracks and look of it is the after effect of the melting process. the seals jump up onto the island rock at higher tide and then sunbath.
This beautiful and huge sleepy buffalo was taken up in Yellowstone National Park, on the Montana side. I will be honest, getting down to grab this shot was probably not one of my smarter moments! Luckily, he didn't wake up and I got in and out quick! I'll go with my "do not do this" caption with this photo. Buffalo can be really aggressive, and although they are easily found in Yellowstone, they will come after you or your vehicle if you get in their way. So be smart and keep a safe distance.
I saved this cute picture for last. This is a mother Grizzly Bear and her two younger cubs. This shot was taken in Denali National Park, Alaska. They were taking an afternoon nap in this picture. But as I went through Denali, I believe we counted seeing over 22 bears in one day. However, most people visit and never see even one. I've even spoken to people who live there and have never seen any.
Like all animals, they key is to keep your eyes open. Bear watching is a tad different than other animals because basically you are looking around for fuzzy looking rocks:) That is the best way to describe what you are looking for when you are bear watching. Its also a lot easier to spot them in open terrain, versus forest area's.
I'll be honest, before I learned this trick about 6 years ago, I hardly ever spotted bears unless they walked right out in front of me. Now that I have learned a few tricks, I spot bears all the time when I am traveling or even here in my home state.
Another tip for bear watching and photography. If you are out hiking, it is best to make noise in bear country, you never want to surprise them! You can talk or carry a bell... Most the time they'll know you are in the area long before you get there, and they'll leave or hide until you leave. Sometimes they won't care and they'll stay out and let you take pictures. But just remember, don't get closer than they want you to be, and keep a safe distance!
If they are out and about and walking around and come near you great. If you see one in the distance and try to run up to get closer, not good! Be smart and maybe you'll be lucky to get some great shots too!
I have 100's more photo's of different animals. But I will save them for another time, so this post doesn't get too huge! But to give you a teaser, sometime in the future I'll show some other favorite pictures - Trophy deer, Antelope, Wild Mustangs, Fox, Dolphins, Sea Turtles, Stingray's, Trophy Elk and probably some more awesome bear shots to name a few.
I am yet to get a cougar (a.k.a. mountain lion) shot though.... I have been pretty close to a cougar and once had a great shot of one 20 feet away. However, I didn't have a camera with me on that day when I was out running. So that is one wild animal I am still waiting for my great shot of! Maybe this summer...