Kenai bear and eagle pictures
I am booked for some salmon fishing during the period July 21-25, 2008 near Soldatna. I am with three other anglers who are not photographers.
This will probably be my only opportunity to visit Alaska and I desperately want pictures of bald eagles and of bears fishing.
I don't want to burden my angling companions with my photo needs so I plan on arriving in Alaska several days before my companions. That way, I will have my cake and eat it too; I will have a chance to get the photos I want but will still keep the friendship of my companions. I will have a rental vehicle but, have not booked lodging as yet - I want to do that soon.
I would appreciate any information regarding guides, etc. who could ensure that I see some bears fishing. I would also like information on the best areas to photograph bald eagles.
I plan on bringing two cameras (Canon 30D and 350D) along with three lenses; 70-200mm f/4L IS, 300mm f/4L IS, and 17-55mm f/2.8 IS. I will also bring a 1.4x TC and a 550ex flash. I don't plan on bringing a tripod due to weight but, I am bringing a heavy duty monopod. The monopod along with the IS equipped lens should give me the stability I need. I also have a 400mm f/5.6L lens but, don't plan on bringing that. The 300mm with a 1.4x TC should give me the reach that I need.
Any information regarding guides, places to shoot and even equipment would be very much appreciated. By the way, I don't limit myself only to bears and eagles (although they are the top priority targets) and I would appreciate any tips on other photogenic subjects on the Kenai Peninsula.
Pull out your wallet...
If you are limiting yourself in such the manner you stated, you'll need to fly your way to photographic success via an outfitter. There will be various locations tied to various dates and various outfitters who will take you there, but it requires research on your part to find them. Generally, these businesses are on the money, but they will cost you money. Bear viewing is big business and big price, and there is sledom anything casual or inexpensive about it.
If you think you can just drive up to a river or stream around Soltdotna and see a bear, forget it. They are around, but seeing them will be unpredictable. Same with the eagle, though your chances will be better down the end of the road at Homer.
If you are not flush with cash, then fish with your friends and keep your camera handy. Who knows, you may get lucky.
This directory has a forum on photography. Ask them, for they know more than I, and many of them produce excellent work and even post images for your review.
I don't want to seem caustic, but my reply is based on the reality of your questions...
Go fishing for reds (sockeye) at the mouth of the Russian river the salmon meat is excellent and the last several years have had Brown/Grizzly bears fishing close by. Often across the river from the crouds.
With a few days to look around, you won't have any trouble finding bears and eagles. Homer is a great spot for eagles, head out to the spit and take pictures to your hearts content. The scenery there isn't bad, either!
Flying out is the best bet for bears. I have heard great things about Talon Air (http://www.talonair.com/bearview.html). They also have a bear viewing/fishing combo, so your buddies may be interested, too. For bears on the road system, definitely head to the Russian River area. The whole system is loaded with bears from the Russian Lakes all the way to the Kenai River and a couple of miles of the Kenai below the confluence. There are fewer, but larger bears upriver and higher concentrations of bears (especially young 'uns) in the confluence area. Just be sure to give them plenty of space...it will be best for you and the bears!
If you are interested in a more serious type of fly out trip, check out http://www.hallobay.com/