Yellowstone 2015 – Grizzly and Cubs

For them not interested in reading, you can see the photos in THIS<<link SmugMug Gallery.  

For a SmugMug slideshow, click HERE<<link. When you click the link, it will open in a new window, and you have two options:
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If you want the full experience, keep reading.

In June of 2015, we took a drive to Yellowstone, our favorite National Park. Late one evening, in poor lighting, we were lucky to watch a grizzly and her cubs foraging for food.

I first mentioned the encounter in THIS post, and at the time I said it was late, the lighting was bad, and I had to shoot at a high ISO (2500 and above). Meaning, the photos were grainy, soft, and of low quality. The photo I shared in that post was one I tweaked and worked on to “make better” and still wasn’t very good.

The photos were soo bad, in fact, that when it came time to share the rest of the photos from that trip, I decided to omit photos of the trio because I didn’t deem them of sufficient quality.

For that trip, I also did something else that was different than what I usually do . . . rather than have a dedicated series of posts about the trip, I shared the photos in a series of opinion pieces; pieces about Freedom of Speech, Superstition, thoughts about the 2016 election and stuff, and thoughts about smart people.

Of course, if you just want to see the photos from those posts without reading any of my blabber, then visit the SmugMug Gallery HERE. But, the three bears appear in none of those posts or in the gallery . . . because the photos were of poor quality.

“What do you mean by poor quality?”

Well, not very sharp, lots of noise, and generally without decent definition to make out details.

“These photos seem OK to me.”

Yes, but here’s the thing . . . I processed them — in batch mode — with DxO PureRaw and Luminar AI. Color Efex 4 came in to give it the final framing and slight vignette.

It’s not to say the photos as shot were awful, but rather that when I processed them with the tools I had back then, I wasn’t satisfied with the results. To be fair, if you go to the SmugMug gallery and view these at 100%, they’re not pixel-peeping great, but at this resolution, they’re not bad.

A lot of people had stopped along the road, and rangers were on hand to keep stupid ones from getting too close. So many people, in fact, that we had to park a few hundred yards away and walk back.

We’ve been to Yellowstone a number of times, and this is the first such encounter, so I can understand the excitement of the people and their desire to get close. We got there after the bears had crossed the road and missed them being much closer.

For the record, these were shot with my 80-400mm lens for an equivalent 600mm zoom. The long zoom combined with the high ISO made for blurry photos with washed-out details . . . not that you’d notice from these photos.

At one point, the mother walked uphill, and one of the cubs immediately followed. The other lingered, and seemed happy exploring on its own. But, of course, it soon got nervous and chased after her. She, by the way, seemed unconcerned at the increasing distance between them. Then again, there were no nearby threats.

None of these photos are exciting (no one got mauled to death), but you can see some details, like the length of her claws, the pads of her feet, and the behavior of the two fuzzballs.

These were shot with the D7000 and, as mentioned, the 80-400mm lens. That combination weighs about 5 pounds. I mention it because of this short film clip (as shot, no processing) . . .

This short footage of the bear and her two cubs is shaky because it’s handheld, and I’m trying to balance 5 pounds worth of camera and lens at arm’s length so I can use the screen at the back of the camera to frame the action. Because we were worried we might miss them, I didn’t bother grabbing the tripod. Also, because I was shooting photos, I didn’t have my reading glasses on. Meaning, I had to hold the camera and lens as far away as I could so that I could see the screen. Add the long zoom amplifying every little movement, and there you have it.

Still, we have a good memory of the event, and now — thanks to advancements in photo post-processing (and me always shooting in RAW) — I also have photos I now don’t mind sharing.

That’s it. This post has ended . . . except for the stuff below.


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