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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

The Spirit Bear

Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen journey to the Great Bear Rainforest in Canada to find the Spirit Bear of the Gitga’at People

Labels: Locations
This Article Features Photo Zoom

The salmon-rich rivers provide a classic bear staple.
What's in Paul Nicklen's bag?

As an assignment photographer working in extreme and remote locations, Paul Nicklen's first priority is to keep his gear functioning. Water, dirt, air, moisture and extreme temperatures all affect a camera's performance. The first job is to get the shot—and that means that sometimes both photographer and camera sit out in the elements for extended periods of time. Although every effort should be made to keep gear out of the rain, in a place like the Great Bear Rainforest, more often than not, that's impossible. So how does Nicklen protect his delicate gear? Here are a few tips to help:

1 If the shot demands that you spend a long period of time waiting under the rain, a large umbrella can be a lifesaver.
2 Make sure that your camera bags have built-in rain protection.
3 A large waterproof shell that covers your head and upper body also can shield your gear in a pinch.
4 A waterproof camouflage tarp can be used to build an ephemeral shelter for yourself and your gear if you'll be in one place for a while.
5 Purchase a rain cover for your camera. Buy one that allows you to keep the gear dry without obstructing the controls.
6 Carry multiple dry terry cloths in Ziploc® bags to wipe cameras down and clean lenses as they become wet.
7 Disassemble, wipe dry and air out your equipment every night. Zoom your lenses all the way out to dry them in case there's moisture inside the barrel.
8 Be careful when changing batteries and memory cards in the field so that you don't introduce moisture to the inside of the camera.
9 Protect yourself, too. A good pair of waterproof boots with excellent traction and a warm hat that keeps your head dry are essential for preserving valuable body heat.

Both the Spirit Bear and the Gitga'at people have been living and dying in the Great Bear Rainforest for countless generations, and their entire existence is tied to a clean, healthy coastline where they can find the foods that sustain them, both physically and spiritually.

No one should have the right to take that home away and forever change their futures. As long as there are Gitga'at here, there's hope for a future with no oil tankers in northern British Columbia, and Paul Nicklen and I stand proudly with them to protect this ancient land.

Cristina Mittermeier and Paul Nicklen were part of a 10-photographer iLCP team that documented the beauty of and the threats to the Great Bear Rainforest. The results of the RAVE expedition are featured in the documentary film SPOIL, produced by EP Films. Nicklen's work was featured in the August 2011 issue of National Geographic. Images from the expedition are traveling across Canada in an iLCP/Pacific Wild exhibit designed to raise awareness on the proposed pipeline. Learn more at www.ilcp.com.


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