I don't want to make light of animals fighting in artificial environments and it certainly isn't my intent. However, wild animals often act wild no matter how nice their environment might be and these bears were kept in a very nice environment. I was riding with a friend through Safari World when this bear fight took place and it really startled the both of us. The screams and roars were real, as are the open wounds shown in one of the last frames of this series.

There really are no words to describe the experience. I was going to write satirical captions under each frame but I'm sure this would have offended some and appeared insensitive. Animal fighting shouldn't be for our enjoyment. But it should be for our wonderment. I hope these images help bring to life a very real and very intense struggle between two of natures greatest beasts. Despite the images you're missing a lot of the experience because there's no soundtrack.

It started when this guy was just laying in the pond minding his own business. It ended with the same guy laying back in the pond after defending his territory.

 Canadian Bear, Safari World, 70-200mm F2.8L IS

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/200th 170mm ISO 100

 

Sleeping bear, Safari World, 70-200mm F2.8L IS, Canon 5d Mark II

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/125th 195mm ISO 100

 

Bears start to fight, Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/100th 200mm ISO 100

 

The bear fight continues wiht some awesome slaps, Safari World,

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/160th 200mm ISO 100

 

Roars and screams filled the air as these two great beasts went head to head, Bangkok Thailand

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/250th 120mm ISO 100

 

Standing up on it's hind legs he bear faced his opponent with extended claws and gnashing teeth.  Safari World

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/160th 120mm ISO 100

 

Bears, photography workshop 2010, Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/250th 120mm ISO 100

 

Bear claws, and not the kind you eat!

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/250th 120mm ISO 100

 

These bears are incredibly fast, notice how the claws blur as the move through the air?

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/100th 120mm ISO 100

 

Both down they attempt to rise and fight again, Safari World, photography workshops

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/400th 120mm ISO 100

 

Extended claws rake the hide of his attacker, bears, Safari World, bears

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/640th 120mm ISO 100

 

Standing full upright on their rear legs a bear can be very tall, Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L  IS

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/250th 120mm ISO 100

 

More roars as he moves in for another attack

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/500th 120mm ISO 100

 

And they're back fighting again.  Bangkok Images, bears, Safari World

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/320th 100mm ISO 100

 

These fighting bears is almost like a prize fight between two super heavuyweights

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/500th 100mm ISO 100

 

Bears can move so quickly you can hardly stop their motion with a camera

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/200th 100mm ISO 100

 

Dancing?  Bangkok Images

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/250th 120mm ISO 100

 

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L, Bears, Safari World

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/100th 100mm ISO 100

 

Exhausted they back off to fight another day

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/250th 105mm ISO 100

 

open wounds on the bears flank look pretty serious.  Another day at Safari World.

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/250th 105mm ISO 100

 

This king of the bear pen goes back to his nap, but notice how his claws are still extended?

Canon 5d Mark II, 70-200mm F2.8L IS @F5 1/60th 200mm ISO 100

 

Technique Analysis -- Careful analysis of the exfil shooting data by an observer reveals the aperture remained the same at F5 as did the ISO at 100. The shutter speed and focal length were the only dynamic variables. This tells the astute observer that I was in Av (aperture priority) mode and during the 4-5 seconds this fight took place I only variable I could control was the focal length by zoom which I did. Any changes to the controls that would take even a full second would result in 4-5 images in this sequence missing.

The camera was set up for careful shooting of static subjects. This means single point autofocus (AF), one shot AF, Av mode, ISO locked at 100 for the best quality. During the rest of my shooting I only needed to frame by zoom, center the single AF on the closest eye of the subject, take an exposure and check the histogram varying the exposure compensation (Ev) as required. Obviously these settings were not ideal for a fast paced fast action sequence such as this. What would have been the ideal settings for this sort of thing?

The ideal settings for this type of action would be Tv (shutter priority(shutter set at 1/500th minimum)), automatic ISO selection, continuous focus, and all focal points active.

So now I ask myself exactly what I learned from the above? I learned I wasn't prepared and I should have been. I could have been prepared for a fast action sequence by assigning the above settings and values into one of my three assignable custom modes. Now they are. Next time something like this happens I can reach for the big mode dial without the camera leaving my eye and instantly switch to the ideal settings and values. Lesson learned!