Have you seen this bear? He's currently a superstar in the Rocky Mountains. He graces the cover of our summer edition of Where Canadian Rockies, our FREE publication packed with information about everything you'd want to know about this place. In this issue, we focussed on wildlife. We had a fun collaboration with WildSmart to produce this article about wildlife safety, we discussed all kinds of wild adventures for summertime and we found some great places to explore all the wild stories this place has to tell.
The cover photo was taken by Andrea Halwas Larsen of Thirteenth Avenue Photography. We had a chance to catch up with Andrea and her husband, Chad, co-owners of Thirteenth Avenue Photography, to chat about this bear and about photographing wildlife in the Canadian Rockies.
Q. Can you tell us a bit about Thirteenth Avenue Photography?
A. Thirteenth Avenue Photography began in 2009 when we discovered our mutual love for photography and exploring. We both came from backgrounds and careers in the arts and we shared a passion for being outdoors. Once we got our golden retriever, Duke, we found ourselves outside every free minute that we had. It was at this time we started exploring the backcountry, seeing wildlife and gorgeous landscapes. We quickly realized that our point and shoot camera and 35mm film camera needed to be upgraded. So upgrades were made… and apparently gear upgrades will never end!
We focused on creating images that told a story and we saw incredible narratives emerging through the lens of our cameras. We wanted to have a place to share and sell our wildlife and nature images, and that's why we started Thirteenth Avenue Photography.
Other than wildlife and nature photography, we also shoot family sessions as well as engagement & wedding photography. These photoshoots have taken us across Canada from coast to coast.
Q. What’s the story behind this particular bear?
A. We ran into this particular male grizzly bear several times in 2016. We find it rare to see male grizzlies since they usually stay further into the backcountry, that is, unless they are courting a female. At the time we captured the photo on the cover, he was courting a well-known female grizzly bear in Kananaskis Country. Every time we ran into him that spring, we actually saw the female first, but then realized that not far away was this persistent and gorgeous male, hanging around her.
Q. What equipment did you use to capture this photo?
A. We started shooting with Canon years ago and we have not looked back. This was shot with a Canon 7D Mark II. Our favourite lenses to shoot wildlife are the Canon 100-400mm and 300mm with a 1.4X extender.
Q. What tips do you have for people looking to view and photograph wildlife in the Rockies?
A. The biggest tip that we have learned through our years around wildlife and in nature is that if you wish to view and/or photograph wildlife, you have to be ridiculously patient. You have to respect nature and the wildlife first. The days we get out and hike or snowshoe are the days we get rewarded with the most memorable wildlife encounters on our way out of the park. It has become part of our routine to show love and passion for Mother Nature and when we do, we are always rewarded. It is that relationship that we have developed that keeps us going out every weekend.
Q. Where is your favourite area to photograph wildlife?
A. Our favourite area to photograph wildlife would have to be Kananaskis Country. The area covers so much land, it has an endless amount of hiking trails, lakes, ponds, never-ending views, and the proximity to Calgary is quite close. One of favourite locations in Kananaskis is a small area covering approximately 3 square kilometers where we have photographed lynx, grizzlies, wolves, black bears and moose. Jasper National Park and Waterton National Park are tied for a close second, and we try to visit each at least once a year.