Big Brown Bear-Repost

Thanks very much for the critiques. I have tried to incorporate the processing suggestions. This image was shot in less than optimal lighting conditions at 5 am in a Finnish forest, which accounts for some of the problems with it. I did not crop it as tightly to allow for more latitude. I think I fixed the green sheen, though I note that this bear has a bit of green paint on the right ear which dripped down onto its fur, clearly some kind of marking applied by biologists studying bears in the area.

Critique Style Requested: Initial Reaction

Please share your immediate response to the image before reading the photographer’s intent (obscured text below) or other comments. The photographer seeks a genuinely unbiased first impression.

Questions to guide your feedback

Dealing with low light and a distant subject

Other Information

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Image Description

It had been a long wait in the overnight hide in eastern Finland. The wolves left about 10 pm and there was nothing but the gloom of an arctic spring night until this bear showed about 4:30 am. He was quite distant but at 600mm, I was able to get an image that I could crop. The light was still very low, and to keep my ISO fairly low, I chanced that he would stand still long enough for a slower shutter speed. This is the result.

Technical Details

Sony a1, Sony 200-600mm at 600mm, manual exposure, 1/250th at f/6.3, ISO 2500

Initial reaction: That is one big bear. And I like seeing both eyes with such an intimidating stance. I don’t think I would mess with this guy.

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Upon reading the text, I am wondering if you shot this with a tripod or not. If so and the bear was still, I think the image quality would hold up well. I am also wondering if you had to bring the exposure up a good bit especially in the shadows as the detail seems okay but not fully stellar to my eye. Still, a very nice capture of a magnificent creature.

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What a beautiful bear! The main issue I see with this image is some weird color stuff going on. Greenish cast on the face and ear and the gold aura completely surrounding him. The colors/contrast on his front also seem somewhat flat/hazy. I do love his posture and the look in his eyes. You’ve gotten some great stuff from those blinds!

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Woah, that’s a heck of a bear. Love the stance and the teddy bear that would tear your face off quality of it. I think the shadows and white balance are out of whack though. The bear is green and I don’t think they come in that color. Probably shadows pushed too high and a wb issue that can be fixed pretty easily. A gorgeous and formidable creature. You sure do get some quality time with your subjects.

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Great subject, somehow I find the pose bit confronting.
As @_Kris Krister suggested, may be shadows pushed too high here.

Hello Charles,

I realize that this is a late post, but I still want to tell you that I really admire the image. It’s a marvelous portrait, and I like the space you’ve left around the bear – s/he is clearly ‘claiming’ that space, and nobody is gonna take it away! I also love the blue eyes (they’re quite the surprise to me). And a personal oddity of mine: I like the green ear tag and paint, too. This is because of my career in conservation; whenever I see that a species is being tracked by biologists, I know that there are ongoing conservation efforts for the population. And that gives me a little joy, being reminded that some humans are still working against the tide of destruction. Thank you for sharing this shot!

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