Evolution of an Image: Black Bear Encounter in Yellowstone

"Hey Swapan, can you grab a photo with your iPhone of those people on the other side of the road who are too close to that bear?"

That's what I asked my new friend Swapan Jha – while our 2016 Yellowstone photo workshop group stood on the opposite side of the road photographing a black bear (circled below).

Swapan, a.k.a. The Raven, took a quick shot for me, which I knew I wanted to use in this blog post, and perhaps in a future book or seminar.

My idea: illustrate how a quck snapshot can be turned into a great shot, illustrated by the opening image for this post and the original image below, taken with my Canon 5Ds and Canon 100-400mm IS lens.

Swapan's photo also captures part of the bear-jam along the road. People went nuts trying to grab a photo. We even heard that a car fell off the road and into a ditch during this photo session. By the way, our vans were parked about 600 yards down the road to the left of where and I took our shots.

Before I go though my enhancements, the Canon 5Ds has a 50 megapixel sensor, giving photographers giant files from which they can make nice enlargements even when cropping in on an image.

The 5Ds also offer low noise at high ISO settings. Due to the relatively low light, I set my ISO to 6400 for this hand-held shot.

Here my are Lightroom enhancements:
• fairly tight crop;
• reduced highlights and opened shadows;
• increased Clarity;
• lightened the eyes.

In Nik Color Efex Pro, I used Tonal Contrast and then Darken/Lighten center to give the image impact.

What "makes" the picture for me, as is often the case in wildlife photography, is "gesture." In this case, the black bear's legs (taking a step) and the look on his face. Gesture also "makes" the photo below of a mommy polar bear and her cubs, which I took in Churchill, Canada.

So: think gesture!

Gesture also "makes" the image below on the right, taken on the Mara, which is featured in my next (and 37th) book.

That's a super quick look at the evolution of my black bear image. In my next book, available October 5, I go into great detail for each image - from start to finish, including Lightroom enhancements.

Evolution of an Image is a follow-up to my best selling book, Creative Visualization for Photographers. I recommend that you read that book first, because it's more about getting the very best in-camera image.

Thank you again, Swapan - the Raven . . . and a very cool raven indeed!

Explore the light,

P.S. All the images in my books are recorded on Lexar memory cards.