Wow! Its been nearly 4 years since my last blog post, where has all that time gone.
So what have I been doing with myself? Unfortunately, not a huge amount of photography due to my BI Consultancy business getting really busy. But that is about to change. I am starting to get myself back into what I love doing, and that is taking photographs.
There have been a couple of memorable holidays, which obviously involve photography, with the highlight being a 3 week trip to South Dakota, Yellowstone National Park and Grand Tetons National Park in the US. Yellowstone is quite simply stunning. The scenery is out of this world with the likes of Lamar Valley, Yellowstone Canyon and the Beartooth Highway being just a few of the jaw-dropping sights.
And the wildlife, oh my god, the wildlife. You can never get bored of seeing the Bison and Pronghorn but to see a black bear and her cub from around 50 feet was amazing but better was to come. We were fortunate enough to see wolves on various occasions but only from a distance but that didn't matter. The highlight however was Scarface. After the black bear encounter, we hoped we would get to see a grizzly. One evening, driving back from Mount Washburn, we passed a lady stood on the side of the road, looking down a steep drop. For whatever reason, we pulled over and asked what she was looking at. She said she had seen a grizzly but could no longer see him. Her husband was sat in his car, obviously bored. I have my trusty 7D2 with 100-400mm with me, just in case. The light was fading so good job I had set Auto ISO on with a decent shutter speed to ensure I got whatever shots I could.
I scanned around with binoculars when I noticed something that didn't look quite right. In September, the grass is yellowing and the sagebrush is a dull pale green. There was a patch that looked a little too brown......and soft.......and had ears. The grizzly she had spotted was hunkered down in the grass, trying to hide. His camouflage was incredible, even when I had spotted him, he was so difficult to see. A number of other cars had pulled up now, which is the way in Yellowstone. Another couple from the UK with their young son came up to us so we pointed out the bear, which they couldn't see. At this point, around 10 or 15 cars had stopped and many people lined the roadside. I honestly thought this wasn't a good situation as we were already too close, around 100 feet from the bear. He must have thought the same as suddenly, he got up. I think I shed a tear. What an amazing creature, to see so close in real life with no cage or bars. But boy was he ugly. He had a scar across his face, one ear was almost at the side of his head and he looked old.
He started to walk parallel to the road. Now remember, we are at the top of a steep drop, probably 50 feet high. A pickup pulled up in the middle of the road and asked what we could see, so I said a grizzly. The lady driver said I was welcome to jump in the flatbed if the bear got too close, which didn't sound good. I fired off quite a few shots but started to get a little nervous as the bear started angling towards the climb up to the road. The small boy with the other couple started running, so I shouted for him to stop, which he did, otherwise Mr bear might be chasing Master child. We made our way back towards our car, keeping an eye on the bear at all times. The number of people watching was dangerous in my opinion, many ignoring the distance between them and the bear.
So one thing will stay in my memory for as long as I live. As I am walking backwards, keeping an eye on the bear, I notice a guy right on the edge of the drop, holding his iphone out in front of him, paying no attention to the bear which has now made his way to the very bottom of the climb up to the road. The next thing iphone man realises is that the bear has gone from standing at the bottom to being in his face in about 2 seconds. Screams for other observers rang out and iphone man literally jumped out of his skin and dove behind a car for safety. I bet he got a great shot of a snout of the grizzly from a few inches. Fortunately, the bear only wanted to get away so he crossed the road without killing anyone, up the hillside and out of sight.
We were too close, I admit that, but iphone man was irresponsible and\or stupid but was lucky to be alive. The following day I told the story to the lady at Stop The Car Trading Post in Silvergate. She said the bear was Scarface, who was 26 years old at the time, and probably the only bear that wouldn't have killed iphone man, as he is so old and used to visitors. I got some great shots of Scarface, but sadly, it was reported that the poor old fella passed away last winter from old age. It was an honour to me you.