Bear With Me… Almost Through Yellowstone

Good news! Linda and I took our cameras out this morning and did some sunrise and bird shooting at Banner Marsh and then moved down to Emiquon (link here) to finish out the morning.  I missed the bald eagle off of Route 8 – it was in hunting mode and spent the time just circling way above the trees.  If the rest of the shots come out as good as they looked on the chimp viewer I’ll have plenty of blog fodder for next month – granted I get through the Yellowstone series first.

But on that front we are really getting close.  After this one I believe there are only two more animal series and then one for water landscape and another for land landscapes and we’ll put a bow on it.  Sorry about flooding you with these, but this is my sweet spot for photography and I really enjoy the post processing and posting almost as much as taking the actual shots in the field – well, truth be told, out in the field is a lot better than post processing but what good is pressing the shutter if you are not willing to put the time in to make them look their best?  Now “best” in this particular series is not as tack sharp as we strive for in our work.  The lighting was not the best (I know, old excuse, but it’s the truth) and the Beast was being pushed to its focus maximums.  Employing higher than usual ISOs are the answer to this, but this typically gives rise to that that evil demon we call Noise.  The shots were put through the ringer in Lightroom to pull out as much detail as possible, but there is point when it works against the shot to do much more.

So today’s topic (if you couldn’t surmise from the title) is all about the Bear.  In particular, the Black Bear.  We have been very lucky on our two trips to Yellowstone in that we captured bears both times we were there.  To see the other set go here.  Most of those were actually of the cinnamon brown variety, but our first bear sighting on this trip was the uber-rare grey variety.

Am I crazy or does this look exactly like a black bear laying in the grass?  Granted I may be biased, since intriguing rocks are always acceptable fodder for my photo outings.  So you might be asking yourself “How does he know it isn’t a Grizzly Bear? – giving some credit that you were aware there was a difference)  It is actually pretty easy to tell.  Grizzlies have a prominent hump on top of their shoulders…since it was missing from the gray specimen above, it must be a from the Black Bear family.  At least if the rest of the week proved fruitless in the search for bear we could say we photographed one.

But alas, we did stumble upon a real live Black Bear on our way back from checking out the wolves in Lamar Valley.  Shot was transitioning in and out of light and even with the Beast at full 400mm it still fell short of really bringing it in tight.

Oh, and was actually had the black fur.

Yes, it was clearly a younger specimen, but this is not the time to get choosey – just getting a chance to see one or two while you are out there is a thrill in itself.  These shots were taken from the side of the road looking back into the hillside.  There was an opening where this particular bear was rummaging around.  The tree shadows and traversing through multiple light levels made it difficult to get a decent exposure while keeping any definition in the black fur.

Hit the jump to see more picture taken of the Black Bear (the live one)

When taking the bear shots I didn’t even notice all the fresh woodpecker activity on the tree in the foreground.  Having seen that at the time I might have stuck around to see what kind of peckers inhabit Yellowstone.  How about we get you a little crop closer.

As with all the bears we have seen in Yellowstone, this one didn’t give us gawkers the time of day.  It just meandered on its way probably looking for more food to gorge on before the upcoming hibernation.  It was in October and they generally head to their dens for some deep hibernation at that time after putting on a serious amount of weight.  According to Wikipedia they’ll gain 30 or so pounds to hold them through the 3 to 5 month hibernation phase.  Now 30 pounds is a whole lot of bugs and vegetation although it appears they will fish for salmon (at night since their fur is easily seen from the water) and the occasional campsite Twinkie is always a bonus!

the following shot execution pretty much sucks except for one main element (which is the only reason you are allowed to see it).  This is one of the few times I’ve ever captured the bottom of a bear’s foot.  Thanks to lucky timing and the hill, you can see the rear foot pad structure if you look close.

Which must provide excellent grip and balance.  Turns out this bear species is an excellent climber and get this, they’ve even been known to climb up to eagle nests to eat the eggs [Wikipedia].  As demonstration of that, this particular bear decided to one up Mary Lou Retton in the very popular 2″ high balance beam.  Judges?

As far as tree climbing abilities go, this does not appear to be the case with Grizzlies – totally based at this time on advice in the Yellowstone literature to climb a tree if you need to seek safety from an encounter.  Of course, this is countered in other literature that informs you they have the capability to just knock the tree down if they wanted.  The good news is the Black Bear does not typically attack humans and usually involves some form of food scenario or cub defense.   This seems odd since you have to be blind not to see all the warning they have about storing your food tight and high and giving these animals all the space they want.

So there you have it.  Two outings to Yellowstone and both times coming back with photos of Black Bears.  Others have gone out there and come back without a single encounter so we are pretty happy about that…. and just maybe we saw a Grizzly too … stay tuned!

5 thoughts on “Bear With Me… Almost Through Yellowstone”

  1. So I’m just getting to this post! I really like the bear rock–I have a hard time seeing a lot of the figures that people see in rock formations, but this one is perfect. I think the second picture is the best of the bear, with the final one second best. Looking forward to the Grizzly!



  2. So I’m not going nuts! I think everyone in the car had the same opinion I had.. or they were just humoring me and looking for quickest escape route. Definitely not my best work behind the glass, but nothing like a little motivation to head out there again and improve upon it. Good news, the Grizzly post was released minutes ago. Thanks for taking the time to comment.


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