Polar Bear Facts, Photo Tips and Adopt a Polar Bear Campaign

Posted Jun. 13th, 2010 by Daniel J. Cox

Mother polar bear and her two cubs recently out of the den. Canada

I recently helped Polar Bears International and our good friends at Frontiers North Adventures (FNA) put together an informational sheet about polar bear facts and figures. It’s a sheet FNA will be giving to their guests who come to witness the annual polar bear congregation that takes place each fall in Churchill, Manitoba. My contribution consists of  a small list of tips on photographing white subjects, in this case polar bears, on snow. Even more important are the facts it contains such as:

  • May 2008 the US considers polar bears an endangered species.
  • 60% of all polar bears live in Canada
  • Polar bears depend o sea ice to hunt and in some cases den.
  • Scientists have concluded that the biggest threat to polar bears is ecological change in the arctic due to climate change.
  • Biologists estimate there are 20,000-25,000 polar bears in the arctic.
  • Support PBI’s Adopt a Polar Bear Campaign. Read More at the PBI web site.

One of the little cubs in the photograph above is the cub featured on the cover of our upcoming book Portia Polar Bear’s Birthday Wish. You can read more on an earlier Blog.

Photo tips for capturing Polar Bears or other white subjects on snow.

  • When shooting a white subject on a white background—such as a polar bear on snow—first make some observations. Is it a sunny or cloudy day? If it’s cloudy, you need to compensate for your camera’s meter by turning your exposure compensa- tion dial to +1.3. If it’s sunny, you don’t need to add anything—just shoot.
  • A good composition is key to a good photo. So, apply the rule of thirds. That is, think of your viewfinder divided with lines like those on a tic-tac-toe board. Align your shot so that important elements of your picture appear along these lines or at their intersections. Your images will have more energy, tension, and interest than if you center your subject.
  • Even quality autofocus (AF) camera systems can be fooled by the light-colored fur of a polar bear—especially on a cloudy day. If your camera isn’t focusing, position the AF sensor on the bear’s nose or eye. Press the shutter button just enough to lock in the focus, reposition the camera for better composition, and shoot.
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  1. JennOn Oct. 18th, 2011

    Polar bear pictures can be tricky as you say because of the white on white exposure. Great tips here, thanks for sharing.

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