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Behind The Shot: “The First Encounter” By Tin Man Lee—Manitoba, Canada

California-based wildlife photographer Tin Man Lee recently returned from a trip to Manitoba, Canada, where he spent two weeks attempting to photograph polar bears emerging from their dens. Fortunately, his patience paid off, despite a little frostbite and catching the flu.

Reposted with permission from Tin Man Lee.

Photo By Tin Man Lee

Photo By Tin Man Lee

I wiped my eyes twice to make sure I wasn’t dreaming. They were there.

After 7 days of glaring at the pure white landscape searching for them through the uneven icy and snowy terrain, I confessed I had a little doubt that I might not see them at all in this trip. We rarely saw any tracks and couldn’t find any active dens.

But life always gave you surprises when you least expected it.

They were on the move. I jumped out from the snowcoach. There was no time to set up the tripod. My eye glasses was quickly frozen. I kneeled down on the snow and fired a few shots.

The scene in front of me took my breath away. I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t breathe. ​Heart full of gratefulness.

This is the holy grail of wildlife encounter.

Equipment & Settings: Canon 1DX, 600mm f/4, 1.4x, f/5.6, 1/2000s, ISO 800, handheld

Follow along on Tin Man Lee’s blog for more images from his exciting trip! He’ll also share some insights into long-lens techniques for wildlife photography in our upcoming April Wildlife issue.