National park photo ops: To catch these bears, join crowd, go long, hold still

Along the Brooks River in Alaska's Katmai National Park, the photographers arrive early with tons of camera gear. You'll see many varieties of lenses, cameras, focal lengths and personalities.
(Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)

My lens of choice was a 500mm f/4 Canon and a set of teleconverters.

I used a monopod to steady myself, while many others used tripods. The platforms were crowded; sometimes a waiting list was used.

Watching the bears is a waiting game. Sometimes the salmon weren’t running. Sometimes only one bear would be in the area. Many hours were spent studying their moves.

The iconic picture of the bear snatching the fish out of the air didn’t happen while I was there. I settled for images of the bears eating and fighting for position -- sort of like the humans watching them.


In Katmai National Park, Alaska, up close with bears pursuing salmon »


A visit to Katmai National Park in Alaska to see the coastal brown bear pursue salmon.

In honor of this year’s National Park Service centennial, the Travel section is posting 100 park travel ideas and tips based on trips staff travel writer Christopher Reynolds has taken, along with photo-op advice from Times photographer Mark Boster. We’ll post one per day through Dec. 31.

Follow Reynolds on Twitter: @MrCSReynolds


See travel videos by Reynolds from around the world.