Behind The Lens: Brooks Falls, Alaska

“Brooks Falls” Brown bear on Brooks Falls, Katmai National Park and Preserve, Alaska USA. Canon EOS 5D Mark IV, Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x Lens @ 280mm, 1/13 second @ f/14, ISO 100.

Brooks Falls are located on the Brooks River about halfway between Brooks Lake and Naknek Lake in Katmai National Park and Preserve. The falls are best known for bear watching on the Bear Cam as salmon attempt to leap up and over the six-foot cascade on their way to their spawning grounds. Brooks Falls is also quite famous for a number of bear-catching-salmon-in-jaws photos that you’ve undoubted seen in prints, books, and all over the Internet.

I wanted to attempt something different here, a contrast between the stillness of a steady bear atop the falls and the ever moving water. The result, which you see here, has been published on numerous occasions including an appearance in my latest wildlife photography book. I’ve been been asked on several occasions if this is a composite created with one slow exposure for the water and another with a faster shutter speed for the bear. The answer would be no. Bears usually don’t move very quickly and they often just stand around looking dumb and confused. The shutter speed of 1/13 second was fast enough to render the idle bear as perfectly sharp while also creating an illusion of motion with the water.

This image was captured with a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV DSLR and Canon EF 200-400mm f/4L IS USM Extender 1.4x Lens and processed in Adobe Lightroom.

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Richard Bernabe is a professional photographer specializing in travel, wildlife, and nature as well as an author of books, magazine articles, and travel essays published world-wide. Richard is a global influencer in the fields of photography, travel, and wildlife conservation with more than one million followers on social media platforms. He leads several photography tours and workshops all over the world and is invited to speak to photography and conservation groups all across the globe.