Silver Salmon Creek, Lake Clark National Park, Alaska
Nikkor AF-S 200-400mm f/4
“The Alaskan coastal brown bear is the second largest land predator in the world. Only the polar bear is larger. The bear’s rich diet helps them grow to sizes of over a thousand pounds and up to nine feet in height. The key part of this diet is Alaska’s abundant salmon population. In the late summer the salmon spawn in the shallow rivers and streams along the coast of the Cook Inlet. With winter not far away the bears take this opportunity to bulk-up for their winter hibernation and spend most of their days chasing down salmon. I’ve spent many hours photographing these huge predators race across the shallow streams and lunge into the water to catch a salmon. I’ve watched some of these bears catch a twenty pound fish, stand-up with the fish in their paws and devour it whole, in a matter of seconds. Its an amazing experience to watch these huge predators up close and in action.
This photo was shot on the banks of Silver Salmon Creek in Lake Clark National Park Alaska. The bears are actually quite close, and a really long lens is not particularly necessary. More important than the focal length of the lens is the frame rate of the camera and the speed and tracking ability of the lens and camera. In this case, I used Nikon 200-400mm f4 AF-S lens on a D-4. This set-up used on a tripod with a gimbel head gave me the ability to follow the over thirty mile per hour speed of the bear as it moved toward me. It looks dangerous and dramatic but I was never in any real danger as the bear is far more interested in the fish than it is in me.”
– Scott Frier