In this interview, Ellie and Jenna, age 7, asked Daniel all the “tough questions” about his trip to photograph Alaskan Brown Bears. I thought rather than a formal interview, it might be more fun to have questions asked from the perspective and eyes of a child. And I think I made a good decision. Enjoy learning more about Daniel Hurtubise’s experience.
How close did you get to the bears?
The closest I got as 10’ when one of them walked by from the top of the hill to go down to the stream. Here’s a good example of how close we were.
The guy happened to be … me.
How did you get so close to the bears?
We were walking. Our guide (Jeff Duck which I thank soooo much) was with us. He was carrying a gun with rubber bullets and if that didn’t do it he had a pistol with real bullets. Fortunately he never had to use it. The key is to make sure that the bears always have enough space. You can tell if you get too close to them because they will start to stare at you. Now is the time to pull back.
What kind of bears did you see? How many types?
The only ones that live where we were are Brown Alaskan Bear. They are not Grizzly since those live at least 30 miles from the shore.
Were you ever scared?
The only time I got nervous was when that bear walked by me. He kind of surprised me. But you get so focus on your shots that you barely remember that they are wild animals.
What kind of other kinds of animals did you see?
We saw some Bald Eagles and a lot of Seagulls. They hang around the bears to eat of their left over.
Where did you sleep?
We slept in a tent… that got destroyed the first night by 80 mph wind.
What did you eat since there were no restaurants or kitchens?
We brought some dried food from Mountain House. My favorite one was Chicken Polynesian but on that one I’m having a mac & cheese (I’m on the right)
Did you make s’mores?
No we brought along some snacks like Craisins (Raisins & Cranberries) along with some nuts. But I wish I had some!
Where did you wash up, shower, etc? Or was it like our camp overnights where we just stay dirty?
We did not. We spent 4 days at Mirror Lake(with the bears) so we didn’t bother showering. And to be honest with you the water of the lake was wayyyy too cold. We used bottled water to brush our teeth.
What was the temperature like in Summer in Alaska?
Mirror Lake was very windy and it rained. The temperature was in the high 40’s. The rest of the trip was more enjoyable weather. Sunny and in the 60’s-70s. The last 2 days in Anchorage went all the way to the 80’s.
How many hours did it stay light out?
At this time of the year the sun shows about around 5:30 am and goes down at around 10:30 pm. So you have plenty of good light for photography.
What else did you do besides take pictures?
Honestly, not much. I did some sightseeing back in Anchorage probably because I was sick of my camera by then J. But don’t get me wrong I always carry a Point & Shoot.
Would 7 year old girls have fun in the Alaskan wild?
Oh I’m sure you would, but I would suggest places like Brooks (a tourist type place). You could also see a lot more animals in those places.
What was your favorite picture you took from your whole trip?
It has to be that head shot of the bear. The minute I looked at it on my camera I decided that it was a “she” and that I was in love.
My girls and I love that close up the most too. Here are a few more incredible shots!
What was your favorite story from the trip?
Meeting with Jonathan, the captain of the Time Bandit from the “Deadliest Catch” TV show on Discovery. He is very funny and was very nice to me.
Would you like to do it again?
I’m actually looking to organize a group for next summer. There is only a window of about 2 weeks where you can get so close to the bear because they are not starving or reproducing. I’m looking into bringing 5 other photographers with me.
If you went again, what would you do differently?
Definitely stay longer. I would also bring some serious rain gear to keep shooting under harsh conditions. And I would also bring some more serious climbing gear to get up those glacier. I only had my boots crampons to help.
What lenses did you use the most? The least?
By far my 70-200 (sometimes with a TC 1.4) but I almost didn’t used my 24-70. I used my 10-24 a lot too.
And was there a particular lens or piece of camera equipment you wish you brought that you left behind?
My 500mm L. I could have got some serious head shots.