This meeting with the polar bear happened in early June 2014. I was on a
boat trip around Svalbard with WildPhoto Travel and a lot of effort was put into finding some polar bears. There were not many polar bears during this trip,
but two of the encounters were very nice. This particular one happened on
the northwestern part of Svalbard in the fjord Raudfjord. We pushed the
boat into the ice that was covering Raudfjorden and just waited there
hoping a polar bear would appear.
Many hours later our hopes were satisfied. A bear showed up very early in the morning and walked in front of a glacier. Then it found an old narwhale carcass on the ice and started eating it. We slowly and carefully got closer to the bear. The animal was calm and accepted our presence. We positioned ourselves in front of the ice at a fairly close distance. A 500mm lens was sufficient to cover the scene well but we had to keep the lens in the boat as low as possible in order to get the required low view.
The conditions were perfect for images with a snow-covered landscape. Falling snow and a polar bear at the same time is not often encountered so we knew at the outset that these images would be special. The bear offered us many photographic opportunities so it was truly a magical encounter with this Arctic’s top predator.
The mood of this image is very special to me - the slowly falling snow and the scene gives me a sense of peace. Though it is wrong to project human emotions to animal behaviour, but often we do it. This particular situation was appealing, as it gave the impression that a bear had fun. It is quite possible that indeed it enjoyed the moment. As an extra bonus there is a little humor in the picture because of the bear’s behaviour.
The post processing was quite straightforward. The image didn’t have too many challenging contrasts. I had to do some selective clarity increases to make the snow stand out a little more against the sky. I personally think that the black and white version gives a little bit more pleasing contrast to the overall image.