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Bear Photos

If you go down to the woods today, you're unlikely to see a bear. Especially if you live in the UK, as I do. But I find them totally enchanting, and I've been lucky enough to see bears on several occasions in the past. They're one of my favourite animals, so I thought it would make a nice subject for a blog post to collect some of my favourite bear photos from over the years, and share them together.

A large male Eurasian brown bear in the forest of Northern Finland
Forest Brown Bear

All the bears I've photographed here are brown bears (ursus arctos). That's the same species found across North America, Europe, and Russia. Within that umbrella term there are several subspecies, with "Grizzly", "Kodiak", and "Eurasian" the most familiar. The differences between these clades are relatively minor; driven mainly by environmental factors such as geographic location, the surrounding environment, and the food available to them.

Close-up photo of a brown bear face
Brown Bear Close-Up

I've photographed bears wild in Canada and Finland, as well as some in captivity over the years. Thanks to the work of some good people, their numbers are now on the rise across central Europe, with populations growing in the Alps, the Dolomites, and the Carpathian mountains, amongst others. Though their existence isn't without controversy and opposition, especially in Italy where many locals are reluctant to adjust to their new neighbours.

A large male brown bear standing in a marsh surrounded by cotton grass
Bear In The Cotton Grass

Bears were once native to the UK too. It's thought that they were driven to extinction by humans either 2000-3000 years ago, or perhaps some hung on to see the arrival of those introduced by the Romans a little after that period. But by the time the Vikings had come and gone, around 1000 AD, so had the bears. It's a shame, and like much of our native flora and fauna, the forests were a better place with them in it. Both for the benefit of the eco-system they help sculpt, and for the sheer magic of knowing they're out there.

close-up photo of a bear paw showing the large claws
Paws For Thought


Bears have always captured my imagination, ever since Disney's Baloo. But I think it was visiting Canada in 2010 & 2012 that really cemented them as one of my favourite animals - especially to see in the wild. I took this photo in the aptly named Great Bear Rainforest, in British Columbia.

A Back-Lit Grizzly Bear in the Atnarko river, Bella Coola, BC, Canada.
Back-Lit Grizzly Bear - Bella Coola

Looking back now, I didn't have much success with photography on that trip. That was partly due to the lighting and the timing/location of the bears' appearance. However, my inexperience at the time, as well as my lack of familiarity with a camera and long lens, was probably a bigger factor. But it was an inspirational experience to see them hunting salmon in the wild, with no fencing or divide between us. And it also encouraged me to go on more amazing trips like this, to see more of the world, and improve my nature photography.

In addition to the wild bears we saw, I was also able to take the following photos of a large grizzly in captivity at Grouse Mountain, Vancouver.

A rim-lit grizzly bear on a black background, photographed at Grouse Mountain, BC.
Rim-Lit Grizzly

Close-Up head shot of a grizzly bear in Grouse Mountain, BC, Canada.
Grizzly Close-Up


I went to Finland to see wild bears back in 2015. It was the trip of a lifetime, and I couldn't recommend it highly enough. I'd like to do it again some time. The bears in Europe are very wary of people, so these photos were all taken from photography hides.

If you're viewing this post on a phone, this one might be a case of spot-the-bear. But it's great when viewed large. It shows the bear on the edge of the forest. A typical environment for the bears in Finland.

eurasian brown bear amongst the trees, on the edge of the Finnish Taiga forest.
Spot The Bear

Here's Casual Dave, an independent juvenile, taking it easy...

A brown bear sitting beneath a tree in the Finnish forest
Casual Forest Bear

But here comes trouble. A bigger boy.

A large male brown bear walking through the woods in the Finnish Taiga Forest
Wandering Bear

When a large male bear approaches, youngsters climb the trees to stay out of their reach. You can see where this tree bark has been worn by the many small bears climbing it over time.

A young bear climbs a tree to avoid danger from nearby male bears
Bear Cub

On a couple of occasions from the Finnish forest hide, I was able to get some super-close-ups, including this detail shot of the fur from the flank of a passing bear.

Close-up photo of a brown bear, showing it's thick shaggy fur
Brown Bear Fur

Of course some photos end up looking better in black & white, and this one was a highlight for me.

Black and white portrait of a brown bear in Finland
Brown Bear in Black & White

I love eye contact in my wildlife photography, and I've already shared three with strong eye contact. These last three are all in that category too. Within the forested regions there are pockets of bog and marshlands, which provide openings. This bear came pounding towards me, across the marsh. It's one of those photos I was so happy with when I first took it (I basically thought I'd completed nature photography). But over the coming months & years I found more and more problems with it, to the point where I completely went off it. Now I think I take a more balanced view of it - I think it's an impactful, but flawed photo. But very evocative of my time in the hide. A great moment.

A large male brown bear walking through the waterlogged marshland towards the camera, in portrait.
King Of The Marsh

This is another photo I initially dismissed because I have a strong aversion to over-exposed skies. Such was the dynamic range in the forest, it was impossible to avoid (if the sky was in view). But this photo has grown on me a lot due to the more important aspects such as the posture, eye-contact, and inquisitive look of the bear, and the addition of the surrounding environment, which adds a lot of context to the image.

A large male bear looking down at the camera in the Finnish Forest.
Bear In The Woods

Lastly, this photo taken a few minutes prior, is in landscape orientation to exclude the sky, and maintain a more balanced exposure, and a more enclosed forest environment. There's nothing quite like the feeling of being acknowledged by a large wild animal, and that's what I wanted to capture in this photo, to hopefully share that feeling with others, by proxy.

Close-Up of a brown bear looking into the camera, in Finland.
If You Go Down To The Woods Today

Let's face it; I'm childish and I like big things. Elephants, mountains, moose, bears. Is that so bad? I think also think we have a prehistoric connection with bears. They're kind of relatable, in a strange way. And they're a vital pillar of their environment. I think it's really important we keep up the progress of reintroduction, and develop our ability to live alongside such important and impressive animals.




Red Deer Roaring, photographed in black and white


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