Great Bear Stakeout

BBC NHU

Our arrival in May on the Alaskan peninsular was timed to coincide with the emergence of bears from their winter dens. We then spent the next four months observing them through mating season and culminating in the salmon run. The majority of filming took place at Hallo Bay and other smaller bays along the peninsular - Geographic Harbour, Kinak and Kuliak. In September, we visited Brooks Falls, renowned for its famous waterfall and salmon run.

A variety of cameras were employed including remote controlled cameras, underwater, go pro, SLR camera traps, long lens and Cineflex. My role was to get as many close up shots as possible using the remote systems. Working alongside bear guide Brad Josephs we started to familiarise ourselves with the bears movements and preferred scratching trees etc. We were working across a vast wilderness so getting these shots was largely down to research, observation…...and some luck!

For the majority of the time we were camping within the sedge meadows and living amongst the bears. It wasn't unusual to wake up and see a bear from the tent. Beyond that, the mountains and glacier formed a stunning backdrop. Capturing a variety of shots and behaviour required us to roam many miles on foot each day which was complicated by the tidal system. Our movements were dictated by the tides as high tide would often swamp the whole meadow and cut us off.

For me, the most memorable part of the shoot was setting up a remote camp in a small bay with waterfall and crystal clear water. It was here that we filmed the underwater sequences of bears fishing for salmon. The water was alive with salmon reaching the end of their journey towards their spawning ground. Installing the underwater camera system meant getting in the water ourselves and positioning the camera at the optimum point to avoid damage and achieve the best angle.

Overall, the series managed to bring a new perspective to these amazing animals and highlight the individual personalities of each of them.

 

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Lucy digging for clams on the sandflats,

Lucy digging for clams on the sandflats,