MY BEST SHOT CATCH OF THE DAY
Thomas D. Mangelsen
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. www.mangelsen.com 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