Grand Teton National Park in Jackson, Wyoming, is a place that many visit and some of us, well, we stay. Many photographers come for the dramatic scenes that include reflections of the Tetons in the ponds at Schwabacher’s Landing or Oxbow Bend. Others come for the diversity of wildlife that includes moose, elk, bighorn sheep, black and grizzly bears, plus many critters and birds. I came for moose. I spent the past seven years working toward my Ph.D. studying the winter foraging habits of moose. As a wildlife photographer, I also love photographing moose. However, diversity is the key to survival as a professional photographer, and I spend a considerable amount of time with the other animals.
We had a couple days of snow in mid-October and I knew a grizzly bear would look nice against the white background. Grizzly bears typically are found in the northern portions of Grand Teton. Some of the bears have names that locals have given them, others are known by their scientific tags. One of the most famous and iconic bears in the area is known as #399. Lady luck gave me a gift (plus the fact that I wake up before dawn and go out every day in search of wildlife); #399 was digging for seeds and tubers in an open field.
My photographic style can be best described as visceral. I like eye contact, I like to show the soul of the animal and I also like to show implied motion. This image provided all that and more. The framing of the face by the weeds was partially luck, but it provides needed depth and environment context. The snow on the face and arms came from digging—both add to the drama.
Equipment & Settings: Canon 7D Mark II, 600mm ƒ/4 IS, Gitzo tripod, Wimberley ballhead, 1/400 sec., ƒ/8, ISO 400, post-processing with Lightroom CC.
To learn more about Moose Henderson’s photography and background, and to read his blogs, visit www.moosehenderson.com or follow him on Facebook. Moose also does group and private wildlife and photography tours of Grand Teton and Yellowstone through www.jacksonholewildlifesafaris.com.