Image No. GNP0401: Morning Stroll. Oct. 7, 2015, 9:17 AM. Nikon D7000, 18-200mm VR, 20mm, f/3.5, 1/25 sec., ISO 100. Image specs:
I had stopped at the same spot off the road along Lake McDonald where I had shot “McDonald Morning” two days earlier. Disappointed with the weather after shooting a few frames on my tripod, I started to pack up my gear. I turned around and discovered that I was face-to-face with a big black bear not more than 30 feet from me. It was at eye-level on the lake shore with me and it was staring at me, having stopped in its tracks. I had surprised it by being so quiet while composing my photos and then suddenly packing my gear with abandon, and I was blocking its path. I froze and we stared at each other for about 10 seconds, my presence at least as disturbing to the bear as his was to me. I’d left the bear spray in the truck. It wasn’t a grizzly, but it was big and poised to advance. Should I take its picture? Or should I back off to reach higher ground and clear its path?
Well, I’d seen a bear run across the road in Many Glaciers and was stunned at how fast they are. No way could I outrun it. I decided to slowly gain higher ground and allow the bear to pass. When I was relatively safe, I pointed my camera to a spot I knew the bear would cross in about 15 seconds, as it lumbered along the shore. I was hand-holding my camera, with adrenaline shaking my hands and the low light working against me. But the vibration reduction (VR) feature of my lens saved the day. That day I got the bear, it didn’t get me.