Posts Tagged ‘bear viewing’

Hollywood gets cut: the first of many tough book edits

Monday, June 27th, 2011

[by Teresa] We’ve decided to cut Hollywood from our Yukon book – she’s a magnificent old Coast Mountains grizzly celebrated for her cub-rearing success. Sometimes the emotion embedded in an image overshadows its photographic merits. In this case, I sat quietly with my daughters over several days watching Hollywood with her cubs, and whenever I view this image it evokes my empathy and memories of relating to her mama to mama. We have a surplus of great bear shots in a book that distills a decade of northern photography, so we must be ruthless. Hollywood’s portrait is lovely and it shows her gentle character, but we see no cubs or behaviour and little sense of the place that defines her family and habitat. I may see a sweet, selfless, hard-working mother, but the composition doesn’t hold up against photos of bears feeding or fighting or exploring their environment.  

You’d think we’d be able to quickly put together this book, but as our colleague @OutcropJay likes to say, it’s an iterative process, which really means we keep revisiting and rehashing the edit until we get it right. As National Geographic photographer Sam Abell told us: “the book of assembly is the rare book, and the most delight for readers. It’s also more challenging for the creator—a project that requires significantly more thought, more effort. Assembling a book is a thoughtful, deliberate process—often undervalued and hastily done by most book publishers.” As we make these tough calls, we’re trying to take those words to heart.

The Adventures of Boots, Goldie and Propane Bear

Thursday, October 28th, 2010

[by Teresa]  Thanksgiving is behind us and Hallowe’en is ahead, and the forecast says a snowstorm is rolling in. I’m reminded of a mid-October blizzard two years ago at the Arctic Circle where I sat at the edge of a river with my friend Phil Timpany watching drowsy grizzly bears plodding up and downstream along the base of Bear Cave Mountain.

Phil – and his partner, Vuntut Gwitchin First Nation – runs what may be the most unique bear viewing operation on the continent. Grizzlies congregate here in wintry conditions to feast on a late run of chum salmon before hibernation. Within an hour of arriving by helicopter at North Yukon’s Ni’iinlii Njik (Fishing Branch) Territorial Park, I was seated in the snow on the bank of the Fishing Branch River a few yards from a sow named Boots trailing young-of-the-year triplets. Soon after, Mrs. Tucker presented her one-year-old twins, and Goldie brought around her cocky two-year-old, a stinky teenager that would test our – and his mother’s – boundaries on several occasions. It takes a lot to stun me speechless, but that afternoon I had few words to voice how it felt to be in the company of bears.

Fritz spent a month shooting at Bear Cave Mountain the previous year, so I knew that a confined, quiet routine awaited me: walk to a viewing site, watch bears, return to the cabins for meals and sleep. Imagine my surprise to be awakened at 1am on my very first night by terrific banging and shuffling around my tiny cabin. The building trembled and I sensed that a bear – surely that’s what it was? – had leaned against the wall I was curled next to. The ruckus continued for an hour, and I cursed the last cup of tea I drank before bed. Making a midnight dash to the outhouse clearly wasn’t an option so a spare bottle provided relief.

Turns out a mystery bear paid a visit to camp that night. It was the first time in years one came onto the deck, and this rogue fellow did a bit of redecorating. The clatter was an empty propane tank that he pried loose and batted about like a bowling pin, and we found a few other items scattered among the trees. But Propane Bear never came back. I was thrilled when we were weathered in longer than what was supposed to be a very short stay. When the snow starts to fly, I think about this unruly young grizz playing on the deck as winter took hold. Season’s short and sometimes a young fella just needs to blow off a little steam before hibernation, right?

Read our story about Ni’iinlii Njik (Fishing Branch) Territorial Park and Bear Cave Mountain in Up Here magazine.