Last Frame: Bears At Play

Last Frame: Bears At Play

Photo By Michelle Theall

As a photographer for Alaska magazine and photo tour guide with Wild Departures, Michelle Theall spends most of her time in Alaska photographing black, brown and polar bears. Last summer, she spent time with a sow and her three spring cubs in Lake Clark National Park and Preserve on the Alaska Peninsula. With her favorite lens, the AF-S NIKKOR 200-400mm f/4G ED VR II, in the shop, she was shooting with a less-premium rental, which made her nervous. “I knew sharpness and light might be issues,” she said, “but hoped for the best. Two of the cubs were particularly energetic and kept lagging behind to play. The action was great, but it was 8 a.m., the light was flat, the bears were far away and it was raining.” With the sun behind the bears, Theall embraced the challenge, emphasizing the silhouettes of the bears rather than going for detail. “At low tide, you get a shimmer off the sand that gives an image a silver, mirror-like cast.” Theall also notes that, “The bears come out regardless of the weather, so I do too. Some of the most interesting images come in less-than-optimal conditions. And if I can’t seem to make anything work, I set down the camera and just enjoy being part of their world for a while.”

Nikon D810, AF-S NIKKOR 200-500mm f/5.6E ED VR. Exposure: 1/1250 sec., ƒ/5.6, ISO 800. 

See more of Michelle Theall’s photography at

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