Every autumn, polar bears concentrate along the shores of the Hudson Bay eagerly anticipating the annual freeze-up which provides them access to their favorite prey, seals. Churchill, Manitoba, on the southern tip of the bay, is one of the first places where the Hudson freezes solid. That’s why Churchill is known as the Polar Bear Capital of the World and the premier place to capture portfolio worthy images of polar bears and other arctic wildlife in their natural habitat. Majestic wildlife, check.
At this time of year, the days are short, but the sun never climbs too high in the sky, so it’s golden hour most of the daylight hours. Great light, check.
We’ve timed this adventure to coincide with the darkest skies of the month. With any luck, we’ll get a shot or two at Aurora Borealis (northern lights) photography. Bonus!
Ken will be right there throughout the expedition to provide tips, critiques, and coaching. Formal instruction, discussions and one-on-one coaching are all parts of the toolkit that Ken uses to help you reach the next milestone on your journey as a photographer.
Practice is just as important as knowledge and you’ll have tons of distraction free time among a small group of like-minded individuals to practice what you’ve learned, refine your skills and sharpen your creative vision.
Part II-Techniques for photographing the ice bears of Churchill
Photographing polar bears, I discovered, is not much different from photographing any other wildlife species. You still have to prepare. You still have to understand exposure and how to use different lighting angles. You still must consider the guidelines of composition. You still have to remain patient. And, you still have to know when to act fast to capture that defining moment.
You might have to pinch yourself to realize you are really seeing these majestic creatures in real time. You are photographing the largest land predator in the world located in an isolated arctic environment in the early throes of winter, which can at times be overwhelmingly windy and bitterly cold with lots of snow. So, okay, there are a few differences.
My first experience with the apex predator of the far north: Part I—Planning the Trip
Polar bear in the Canadian Arctic, near Churchill, Manitoba. (c) Jim Clark
Somewhere I read that once you gaze into the eyes of a polar bear, it will change your life. Just a couple weeks ago, I did indeed gaze into the eyes of the foremost apex predator of the far north. In fact, for a week I looked into the eyes of several polar bears during my first-ever trip to Churchill, Manitoba. The experience is something that neither I nor my wife Jamie and son Carson will ever forget. Continue reading →