Teddy Bear

If you know how dangerous a bear is, you wonder why they give -of all animals!- stuffed bears, also called ‘Teddy Bears’, to kids and babies. But even though my brain says they are dangerous, I must agree that they look particularly cute. At least, if you look past the blood around their mouths, and discard the way they capture, skin alive and eat the salmon.

“Where did that fish go?”

“Let go of me!”

The Catch

Even so. They are unbelievably cute. So much that I would want to hug them. Even when they stand in front of you, really close, and gigantically tall.

I have stood in front of a bear (or rather, bears), several times, really close. Mostly the bear is not ‘standing’, but walking on his 4 legs, so the giganticness doesn’t strike you that much. Well , it does strike you, in a way. But still, they look cute.

If it wasn’t for the armed guards, one walking in the front, and one in the back, constantly urging us to stay close, and occasionally telling us to back off, we would have gotten close enough to actually touch them.

After he has caught and skinned his salmon, he goes looking for a quiet place to eat it.
Nap time.
Right after he duck after his salmon, which he obviously missed…
Catch me of you can! A salmon swimming by while the bear is to busy eating another one.

I have traveled a lot, and I have been to many interesting places, but not one was looked at with so much eager and enthusiasm by my friends and followers than this trip to bear country, Kamchatka.

Kamchatka, a far away land, also called the Far East of Russia. It is a long flight (from Moscow) and a huge time difference (11H), and as soon as you arrive you know you are in an extraordinary place. Especially when you land on the empty airport of Petropavlovsk in a Boeing 777, where you have to get off the plane, and into a bus, that drives you 15 meters further and drops you off at to the door of a tent where the luggage belt is (why can’t we walk?). There are only a few tourists like us, many locals, and a lot of Russians visiting from Moscow, arriving with their guns, ready to hunt some bears.

Yes, in Kamchatka they hunt for bears. Some with a gun, others, like me, with a camera. There are many, many bears in the Peninsula, some say too many. We Europeans wonder, can there ever be too many? (their cuteness must have something to do with that, and having to live with the constant risk of being attacked by one of those dangerous giants is something we tend to forget))

For many people, the bears are the only reason why they go to that place. For me it was one of many, but after 3 days of ‘hunting’ and shooting over 2000 bear photos, I have to admit that I have come to love them.

mmmmm Delicious!
Mother bear waiting for a fish to pass by (and be caught).
Same mother, now jumping after the fish (which she caught, by the way).

We went to a national park at Kurilskoye that is known for its bears. All day for 3 days we walked around the area, close to each other, looking for bears. One day we saw more then 70, all doing their thing. Mostly this is hunting for fish, call it fishing, often it is sleeping, or napping, or just walking towards good fishing spots. Bears are slow, or so it seems, calm, but when they accelerate they change into something quite different. You do not want to cross their path when they run (towards you).

Some bears are fishing champions, they catch one salmon after the other, others really suck at it, like that one bear the guards called ‘Jumper’, because he always jumps into the water but hardly ever catches something. As a result he is skinny. Some bears are constantly running after fish, others are standing at the shore looking down until an interesting one comes along, they then jump in, sometimes come out with a fish, sometimes they missed.

The salmon, still alive at this particular moment I am afraid…

It was extremely tempting to stay and watch a bear for hours, with cameras at hand, ready to shoot when they make a move, but very often they would stand there and look into the water and not move at all. But we knew, there are more bears further on. Kurilkoye is a bear crowded area. Here, buy the way, there is no place for hunters, and even the guards said they never had to shoot a bear. There had never been a dangerous situation during their guard…

This guy has just jumped and missed.
Waiting for fish…

Even though I don’t consider myself a wild life photographer, this bear shooting was a wonderful experience, so you should best keep on following me to see what else I will be doing in the future 😉

Have a great bear-day, give your friend a bear hug, and for our Flemish readers; ‘t was Beire goe!

Disclosure, the exhibition on video

Many of you have visited me on my exhibition last month. It took place in the beautifully restored city palace on the Coupure in Gent, now instead of a family residence, a co-working space called Ampla House.

During 3 weekends an overview of my work was on show in the different spaces on the 3 floors, and every visitor was invited for a glass of wine in the bar.

It was a huge succes and the works looked perfect in this location.

If you want to go through the exhibition another time, check out this  video

Feel free to contact me if you want to see some of the works in real life again!

Thank you all for coming!!

Education

Well whatever you are, wherever you go, however good you might be at what you do, whatever your profession is, constant education is a necessity. There is always something left to learn, there is always something you need to know or something that might make your life (and work) easier.

So extra classes is something I constantly take and look for. Like this one, organised by the ‘Belgische Vereniging van Beroepsfotografen’ called ‘light’. We got together 10 times in different locations, all professional photographers wanting to improve their skills around everything that has some relation to ‘light’.

Today was the last one.

We went to the Abbey of Zevenkerken, Loppem, where we took a picture of the ‘father abbot’ in the chapel, had a picnic in the park (yes, apart from work there is always some time fun and relaxing, and we do need to eat anyway, don’t we?) and shot moving objects (in this case mountain bikers) with flash in the forrest.

_KTI8543

The trick with the father abbott was about getting the color of the light, which was a combination of natural light coloured through the stained glass windows, and the fill-in flash, perfectly aligned.

The trick with the bikers was to freeze the object and have the background moving, or rather, getting the impression that the biker was very fast by having the background blurred.

_KTI8636Above you can see the result of my bikers pictures, and off ‘us’, ‘at work’…

Apart from the learning process and the practicing, the socialising and getting to know colleagues, discussing problems related to work and exchanging ideas and tips, is as important. Not to forget the fun we have…!

Make sure to have a better look at my website!