Sunday, March 13, 2011

Polar Bear Photo Safari Day Five...Forty Below and a High Wind...

My dad used to always kid that it was forty below and a high wind any time it was cold outside. Being from Edmonton, I don't think I have ever actually truly experienced that kind of weather. And if I did, it was only very briefly as we hustled from one building to another. Today was definitely that day. Not only was it exactly that day, but to get the images we were looking for we stood outside in the wind for 6 straight hours. We only went back into the vans very briefly in case of necessity, not wanting to miss out on a potential great shot.

Today we found the bears after lunch around 12:30 ish. We found another mother with only one cub. The cub was busy and posed a bit for us, then curled up with his mommy and went to sleep. For most of the day they just stayed curled up. As the wind blew, they got completely covered with snow. Finally as we were starting to pack up close to 7p.m., the bears heard the snowmobiles and looked up briefly. I have to credit all of the photographers who stood outside all day waiting for that one shot. We wouldn't dare take a break any longer than absolutely necessary in case we missed "the shot" that we were all looking for... The picture of momma bear standing up and shaking the snow off her back. In the end we didn't get that shot, but we did manage to get some shots of her shaking the snow off her head. 
The same bears after three or four hours of wind.
The snow almost buried them.

The hardest part of the day for me was exchanging camera cards. It was so cold that taking off a glove, and switching cards took about ten minutes. (in the summer it would take literally 15 seconds). When your hands freeze instantly, they become much less nimble and the cards are very small. Not to mention that the cameras are made of metal, so touching something metal for any period of time with bare skin in that weather is not pleasant.

Tomorrow we cross our fingers and hope for the Wapusk National Park trifecta; active triplets, good light and a nice background.

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