Tag Archives: Assiniboine Park Zoo

Fierce Polar Bear, Journey to Churchill

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I really got lucky on this day photographing the Polar Bears swimming underwater at The Journey to Churchill.   My wife and I have been members and visited them well over a dozen times and only seen this behaviour once.

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Dinosaurs Alive! Assiniboine Park Zoo, Winnipeg

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More images from the life-sized dinosaurs at Dinosaurs Alive! at Winnipeg’s Assiniboine Park Zoo.  These are great for practicing wildlife photography technique.  They move very slowly and don’t require long telephoto lenses.  I treated these like any wildlife close up or environmental portrait, just without my usual long lenses.  In fact, most were shot between 16 and 70 mm on a full frame camera.  Lighting and exposure can be a little tricky because of the midday sun angle, but any modern dslr or mirrorless camera can recover highlights and pull out any shadow detail.  So if you can, shoot in RAW and you will end up with some pretty unusual images.

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Polar Bear, superman

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This Polar Bear at the Journey to Churchill in Assiniboine Park Zoo, Winnipeg had just dove in and continued by in a near perfect position.  I’ve patiently tried for this shot quite a few times, finally everything came together.  He almost looks like he could fly, just requires a photoshopped Superman cape.

Polar Bear attack, Journey to Churchill

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The title of this post could be a bit misleading, but it is what it is.  Here is one of Winnipeg’s young Polar Bears swimming for the first time in the Journey to Churchill.  He made repeated playful attacks on the zoo onlookers while they watched through the underwater tunnel.  Amazing sight to see in person, especially if you’re in direct line of sight with camera in hand.  I didn’t get so lucky, but managed a descent shot at this angle.  A fast prime lens and a camera with good ISO performance is certainly the way to go.  It’s a very tough photographic situation shooting through very thick plexiglass and cloudy water.

I’ve experimented with a variety of lenses and settings, this was shot with a 5D markIII and 24-70 f 2.8, I’ve had good luck with 24 and 35 f1.4 lenses as well, don’t bother with longer lenses as the cloudy water will degrade the image quality quickly.  Shutter speeds range from 1/800 and up using servo focus tracking.  Try shooting were the glass is flat and block stray light with your hand.  With a fast lens you could try a polarizer to reduce reflections, but bare in mind you will lose upto 2 stops of light.  I set ISO on auto, but will manually adjust it if I have time and the bears are in the right location.  If you have time and are patient, find the best position with good frontal lighting and wait, it’s better than chasing them around.  Good luck.