Polar Bears waiting for winter and killing time

Posted on 05. Apr, 2010 by in Everything, Locations, Photography, Videos, Wildlife, Workshops, Tours and Courses

According to Environment Canada, Canadians just enjoyed the warmest and driest winter in the last 63 years.  From coast to coast to coast, Canadians were treated to above normal temperatures and below average precipitation.  Environment Canada defines winter as November through to the end of February.

I was in Churchill, Manitoba this past November scouting a location for an upcoming Polar Bear photography workshop.  I was fortunate to be hosted by the fine folks at Churchill Wild at their fine lodge a short 40 minute bush plane flight north of Churchill, Manitoba, Canada.  The one factor that really distinguishes this Polar Bear tour from almost every other one is that on this tour, you aren’t photographing the bears from 12-14 feet in the air from Tundra Buggys/Busses, but rather you are down on the ground, at eye-level with the bears.  And if there is one thing you need to know about wildlife photography, it is that it becomes much more compelling when we’re able to get to the animal’s eye-level and aren’t shooting down at them.  And yes, this is done completely safely.  Safely for the photographers and safely for the bears.  If you’d like to learn more about this workshop, click here.

Polar Bear waiting for winter along Hudson's Bay

Polar Bear waiting for winter along Hudson's Bay

Back to the video.  I thought I’d make a video that told the story of the Polar Bears, waiting along the shores of Hudson’s Bay for the bay to freeze up.  The bears rely on ice in the bay to help them return to their hunting grounds on Hudson’s Bay where they hunt seals.  This hunting is extremely important because once the ice melts in the spring and the bears swim to shore, they virtually eat nothing until the bay freezes again the next fall and they go feasting on seal.

To create this video footage, I used my Canon 5D Mark II along with my Canon 500mm F4L IS lens.  At various times, I also used the 1.4x and 2.0x Extender II teleconverters.  This gear was supported by my Gitzo 3541XLS Tripod attached to a Jobu Design Gimbal head.

I took a ton of still photos while I was on this trip, but I also took quite a bit of video footage.  Please take a look at the video and when  you’re done (you’ll need to invest about 6 and a half minutes of your life to watch the entire video), I’d love to hear your thoughts.

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3 Responses to “Polar Bears waiting for winter and killing time”

  1. Rosemary S.

    19. Jun, 2011

    Very interesting video – love the photography……..That last shot of him/her playing in the snow – too funny! He looks so delighted!

    You certainly illustrated their long days of waiting and boredom – Aren’t there polar bear video games or something, to help them pass the waiting time? 🙂

    Thanks for sharing……your video is great ‘food for thought!’

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