Saturday, 30 April 2011

Black Bear Diaries 2011 Part 6: Who goes there?

I am glad this momma bear was checking out the approaching family of deer rather than me at such close range. I had been watching this mum for about an hour and she was happy eating grass with her cub until we heard some rustling in the bushes about 15 meters away. At first I thought it was another bear but it turned out to be a family of deer who wanted to cross the field. After the bear stood up the deer decided not to venture across and soon disappeared back into the forest. I'd say that was a good call by the deer family although it would have been interesting to see how the bear would react to them if they continued to approach.

I held my breath when she stood up, not because I was close to a big bear who was standing up but because my camera shutter speed was low and I thought it might not have been fast enough to catch a sharp image in such low light. She had been eating grass in the field and was pretty much stationary for such a long time. Because of that my shutter was only at 1/200th of a second but as soon as she got back on all fours I checked the screen on my camera and smiled as I had captured a sharp image. Having the camera mounted on a tripod meant I could work at slower shutter speeds and still achieve sharp images.

Techs: 400MM @ F5.6 // 1/200 // ISO1250
Canon 7D with 400MM F5.6 L
Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011

Techs: 400MM @ F5.6 // 1/200 // ISO1250
Canon 7D with 400MM F5.6 L
Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011

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Wednesday, 27 April 2011

Black Bear Diaries 2011 Part 5: Sow and Cub bond

This Sow had two cubs last year but unfortunately lshe ost one after a dramatic and deadly encounter with a big male bear (a male bear is called a Boar) during last year's mating season.

You can see the scar on the cub's head which is shown by the discoloured fur. This Sow and cub have been frequent visitors to the field this year and to-date star in all the "Black Bear Diaries 2011" blog posts. She is the bear that likes to stand up. Even though a Bear's eyesight is about as good as ours they like to stand up to get a better look at who is approaching. I will never forget the first time I encountered a bear that stood up to check me out. It was my third sighting last year (5th ever in fact) and a definite "Oh sh*t" moment much like the first time you see a shark when snorkeling. The Bear was eating a deer carcass and when I drove past and opened the car door camera in hand, the Bear stood up to get a better look at me and that certainly gets the andrenaline flowing.

This is my 5th sighting of this family in six outings and although she is a little on edge now and again when other bears show up, she seems to tolerate my presence. On the five occasions I have seen her this year she has been happily eating grass at the back of the field and after a while both she and the cub disappear into the forest.

I thought this image portrayed the close bond between mother and cub.

Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011

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CLICK HERE to watch the "Black Bear Video Diaries 2011 Welcome Video" in HD:

For more information on Black Bears visit:

Monday, 25 April 2011

Black Bear Diaries 2011 Part 4: Sunny side up

I knew the sunny weather wouldn’t last long. It finally felt like spring last Thursday and Friday but that all changed Sunday afternoon. I am having a day indoors today so I thought it was only right that I reminisce about the sun and post this image of a bear soaking up the evening sun last Thursday. The Bear was checking out the local deer.

I think I will spend the rest of the today processing last week’s images as I have another Bear & Deer encounter that I want to share with you.

Techs: 400MM @ F5.6 // 1/320 // ISO640
Canon 7D with 400MM F5.6 L
Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011

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Friday, 22 April 2011

Black Bear Diaries 2011 Part 3: Introducing the Mums

WOW what a first week with the Bears. I went out four times this week and got many great shots, but Wednesday (April 20th) evening was over the top. I arrived to the field after a swift paced bike ride and as usual the light was fading and rain was starting to land on my sun glasses.
When I turned up to the field a large Sow (Correct term for a momma bear) I had never seen before was in the middle of the clearing with 2 cubs. My heart started racing with excitement as I got myself set up and in a good position. I grabbed a few shots but they disappeared after about 5 minutes when another Sow and cub I watched on Monday night showed up on the scene. A double bear whammy.

I watched the Black Sow and cub for about an hour and just as I was about to pack up and leave the Black/Brown Sow came back with her two cubs again for some grassy supper.

For more of the story see the video posted in Part 2.

And now for the introductions:
Black/Brown Sow and 2 cubs (1 Black and 1 Black/Brown)

Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011

Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011

Black Sow with 1 black cub (This is the SOW and cub that appear in "Bear Diaries 2011" Part 1 and Part 2)

Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011

Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011

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Thursday, 21 April 2011

Black Bear Diaries 2011 Part 2: Welcome to Black Bear Video Diaries 2011 Opening Film

Welcome to Black Bear Diaries 2011 Part 2 with Jamie Douglas. I thought I'd kick off the Black Bear Diaries Part 2 with a welcome video. This is the first time in a year of owning the Canon 7D that I have used the video capabilties and it`s definetly something I will use again.

CLICK HERE to watch in HD:

Filmed by J M Douglas Photography 2011
Techs:  400MM @ F5.6 // ISO1250
Canon 7D with 400MM F5.6 L

Film © J M Douglas|Photography 2011

Monday, 18 April 2011

Black Bear Diaries 2011 Part 1: The Bears are awake

I had my first Black Bear encounter of 2011 this evening and I am buzzing. I have been waiting for this day since my last encounter at the end of October last year. Just by luck, on my bike ride this evening I bumped into one of the many locals I got to know last year and he told me he had seen two young bears earlier that afternoon so I was thrilled when I returned to the usual spot and spotted this Sow and Cub. The cub looks about a year old and I recognise this family from last year. If you spend long enough looking at Bears you start being able to tell them apart.

It was getting late and the light was fading fast so I needed to act quickly. Thankfully I have a lens equipped with Image Stabalization so this allowed me to capture this great scene. I took a jump over the boggy stream and didnt think about the risks in doing so at the time with camera gear but I needed to be just that little bit closer. I then got myself into a decent position in tall grass and it was then that the Sow and Cub stood up for a better look at me, I couldnt believe my luck.

This will be the first of many so I hope you can follow my blog and share these awesome encounters with me.

Techs: 280MM @ F2.8 // ISO1600 // 1/60 //
Canon 7D with 70-200mm F2.8 L IS and Tamron AF 1.4 x Teleconvertor
Image © J M Douglas|Photography 2011

Next time I will take my tripod and 400mm lens.

I hope you enjoy this blog and please feel free to share this link with friends and family:

Sunday, 10 April 2011

The Story Behind the Fox Silhouette

In May last year I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to explore the Maritime region of Canada which included a 4 day trip to Prince Edward Island (PEI). I had not done a lot of research into the species I would encounter on PEI as I had only researched the Puffins of Nova Scotia. When we arrived at our destination which was close to the small town of North Rustico I came across a Red Fox in a field and this immediately got me thinking there must be more around the area. On the first night my wife and my parents took a walk along the beach towards the town and that's when I discovered the Fox I had encountered earlier in the day was not alone. Fox's are one of my favorite mammals so I was thrilled when I came across a family living on the edge of town.

Lesson: Enhancing a silhouette
More often than not us photographers aren't always in the right place at the right time. In this case I had the Fox in the right place but where was the golden sunset to compliment the Fox looking at me from the dunes?

I had to make do with the scene in front of me knowing I could probably apply a few tweaks in Photoshop to get the image I wanted.

Original File

Final Enhanced Version

Techs: 200MM @ f3.5 // ISO3200 // 1/400 // Exp comp 0
Canon 7D with 70 - 200mm F2.8 IS L
Image Copyright J M Douglas Photography 2010

Creating the Silhouette...

  • First step was to open the RAW file in DPP (Digital Photo Professional) which is the free editing software package that comes free with your Canon camera.
  • In DPP I reduced the Brightness Adjustment to create the dark foreground look against the sky. I also reduced the Contrast to keep the detail in the foreground grass.
  • Next step was to export the TIFF file to Photoshop.

  • In Photoshop I ran a weak Noise Reduction and cropped the image to my liking.
  • I then ran Curve Adjustment to make sure the foreground was dark enough and not too contrasty.
  • At this point I had the silhouette but really wanted to lose the grey sky and create a sunset look.
  • Creating the intense sky was done simply by applying a Warming Filter (85) and setting it to 100%.

I hope you enjoyed this lesson and good luck going out to create your own silhouettes.