Thomas D. Mangelsen

NPhoto - - Sneak Peek At Our April Issue -

Thomas D. Mangelsen is a Nikon Leg­end Be­hind the Lens. He grew up in Ne­braska, where hunt­ing and fish­ing were his in­ter­ests be­fore he be­came in­ter­ested in pho­tog­ra­phy. He was one of the first wildlife pho­tog­ra­phers to do limited edi­tion prints, and his Im­ages of Na­ture gal­leries now op­er­ate in six US states. In 2000, Tom was named the Out­stand­ing Na­ture Pho­tog­ra­pher of the Year, by the North Amer­i­can Na­ture Pho­tog­ra­phers As­so­ci­a­tion. The mark of a leg­endary pho­tog­ra­pher lies not just in who they in­spire, but also in how much their pic­tures are copied. Thomas P. Mangelsen’s exquisitely-timed pho­to­graph of a griz­zly bear about to catch a leap­ing sal­mon is a prime ex­am­ple of a photo that’s been im­i­tated hun­dreds of times since the orig­i­nal was shot. As Mangelsen him­self recog­nises, “This is my most iconic im­age, copied more than any other – the split sec­ond be­fore the griz­zly moved his head and shut his jaws on the sock­eye sal­mon.”

Taken at the now fa­mous Brooks Falls in Alaska’s Kat­mai Na­tional Park, few people at the time be­lieved that Mangelsen’s photo was a sin­gle frame, some think­ing it was a clev­erly com­posed dou­ble ex­po­sure. Shot on film, the pho­to­graph was Mangelsen’s re­ward for months of per­se­ver­ance, dur­ing which time he’d made dozens of vis­its to the falls where the griz­zlies gather an­nu­ally to feed on the sal­mon swim­ming and leap­ing up­stream to spawn.

“Ev­ery day, I’d hike the two miles from my tent to the view­ing plat­form, set up my tri­pod and fo­cus on the group of bears sta­tioned above the falls. They would stand for hours wait­ing for sal­mon to leap near enough to grab with their paws or catch in their mouths.” He used a 600mm lens with a 1.4x tele­con­verter, freez­ing the mo­ment on Fu­jichrome 50 with a 1/1000sec ex­po­sure at f/9.

Mangelsen also wanted an im­age that con­veyed the re­al­ity of the lo­ca­tion. “The com­po­si­tion would have to be tight enough to make the viewer feel the spray from the cas­cad­ing wa­ter and the rush of sock­eye sal­mon against his legs, to smell the great bear’s breath – that was the ten­sion I

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