Grizzly Bears: Big, Beautiful, and…Noise-Free?

There is a robust argument to be made for photographing what intrigues you, what you like, or that by which you’re obsessed. Making images takes time, in order that curiosity, love, or obsession serves you effectively when your greatest work calls for not fractions of a second and even minutes, however hours, days, or—within the case of longer tasks—even years. 

Bears have turn into a rising obsession for me. I don’t know the place it comes from or what a part of me these bears contact so deeply, however it’s not not like the sensation I get within the presence of different giant creatures like leopards, lions, sharks, or whales. Maybe it’s the notion of one thing larger than I’m—one thing so completely different.

I’ve simply come again from one other ten days with the grizzly bears on the shores of the Chilko river. They converge yearly within the fall because the salmon arrive of their a whole bunch of 1000’s (1,000,000 this 12 months) to spawn the place they themselves have been spawned 4 years prior. Those salmon have spent the final three years within the ocean and have now climbed 3,000 vertical ft to return right here to ensure there would be the subsequent technology, after which they die and return their vitamins to the water, the bears, and the forest. For their half, the bears have come to feast and fatten earlier than climbing the close by mountains and denning for the winter at 8,500 ft. The females who’ve mated earlier within the 12 months will rely upon this meals. If they attain 33% physique fats or greater, they may turn into pregnant by way of delayed implantation as they lie of their dens, gestate for less than six weeks, and provides beginning over the winter. When fall comes, these cubs (often called cubs of the 12 months) will be a part of their mom as she teaches them to fish and feast on the salmon.

So on September 28, I loaded my gear into Lucy (bear in mind Jessie, the Defender, and Emily, the Jeep? Lucy is a new-to-me Toyota Tacoma that has lately turn into my new journey associate) and headed north, selecting my approach by way of the coastal mountains and lakes round Whistler and Lillooet earlier than driving by way of the gorgeous Cariboo and Chilcotin—the foliage on the aspens at their golden climax—and eventually to the Chilko River, full of 1,000,000 sockeye flashing crimson below bluebird skies. It’s a spot of such wild magnificence that it’s onerous to not get somewhat wordy about it. 

After ten days of pictures, I drove residence with onerous drives stuffed with photographs and a coronary heart and thoughts full of recollections of bears swimming by way of waters so heavy with reflections that they could as effectively have been swimming by way of paint. And the sunshine! The backlight, the reflections, and the color nonetheless blow my thoughts days later as I work my approach by way of the images I made.

This final journey marks the start of my second 12 months with Sony gear. I got here residence somewhat pissed off with the boundaries of my FujiMovie gear final 12 months, lastly admitting to myself that what it did so effectively on the streets it didn’t achieve this effectively with wildlife. The focus pace and the supply of really world-class optics for the Sony make my work a lot simpler (not essentially higher; that’s on me).

I’m now utilizing a few Sony a1 our bodies and primarily taking pictures a 600/4.0 lens, and although I’m not a “gear man” in the best way some photographers are, I’m nearly ashamed to confess how a lot I like this gear. It simply does what it’s meant to once I want it to, and after the frustrations I had with FujiMovie, it’s refreshing to place the digicam to my eye and nail the main focus the primary time, which suggests fewer disagreeable surprises. So for these of you who’ve lately requested if I’m proud of my transfer, I couldn’t be happier. I don’t love the Sony model (it’s not horny the best way Nikon or Leica is), and I don’t love the ergonomics the best way I liked my FujiMovie cameras, however the efficiency is out of this world higher for me.

I’m taking pictures at greater ISOs now, not a lot as a result of my wildlife work occurs in darker conditions (although that’s typically the case), however faster-moving critters demand greater shutter speeds (1/1000+) than I ever wanted on the streets (typically nearer to 1/30 or slower). So I’m repeatedly hitting ISO 6400, and whereas the considered that after terrified me (I nonetheless bear in mind stressing out about going to ISO 800 on my early digital cameras), I’m rather more relaxed about it now—however I haven’t at all times been proud of the outcomes. Enter DxO PureRAW 2.

PureRAW 2 is a plug-in for Lightroom, although it may also be used as a stand-alone product. It’s somewhat clunky to make use of, however the outcomes are astonishing. I’ve been a bit pissed off with my very own efforts at noise discount and sharpening in Lightroom, so I requested my greatest good friend Jon what he makes use of, and since he’s a lot smarter than I’m, I made a decision to offer it a strive. I’ll allow you to learn the web evaluations for your self when you’re into that, however I wished to a minimum of warn you to it as a result of I’m truthfully gobsmacked by what I’m seeing.

Here’s a short overview: import your photographs, discover one of the best of one of the best, after which (right here’s the place it will get clunky) select your picture (or folder of photographs) and go to File > Plug-in Extras > Process with DxO PureRAW 2. A dialogue then seems, you set a few preferences (like what you need to identify the brand new file(s)) and hit the Process button. PureRaw 2 then creates a brand new sharpened and de-noised (and lens-corrected) DNG file for you. It additionally renames it in line with your choice (I add DxO to the top of my file identify), and it then places it the place you need it. Now you’ll be able to course of the brand new DNG file the best way you usually would. And when you’ve already finished your improvement, let’s say with years of older photographs you’d like to scrub up, there’s no want to begin over; your adjustments will all stick within the new DNG file.

So how good is it? The noise discount, sharpening, and lens corrections all occur collectively and dramatically exceed my very own efforts. You most likely already know that I don’t get too enthusiastic about how sharp photographs are. If that’s what individuals are commenting on, you then’re most likely not making very attention-grabbing images. But if noise or lack of sharpness are getting in the best way of what your images might be, then I say use no matter it takes. Maybe I’m late to the occasion on this one (story of my life), however when you’ve by no means heard of DxO PureRAW 2, then test it out (and sure, it now works with FujiMovie X-trans information, of which I’ve 1000’s and some that can actually profit from what PureRAW 2 can do). Here are earlier than and afters on two of my photographs that I believe present the outcomes fairly effectively:

Above: On the left is a picture from my Sony a1 processed with DxO PureRAW 2. On the fitting is the file with out corrections, on the left is the cleaner file. This is considered at 100%. Click the picture to see it full-size in a brand new tab.
Above: The identical picture from my Sony a1 considered at 200% – the cleaned up picture is on the left, the “earlier than” model is on the fitting. Click the picture to see it full-size in a brand new tab.
And right here’s a earlier than and after on one of many photographs I made with my Fuji X-T3 final 12 months as a result of I do know Fuji customers are likely to get the brief finish of the stick on stuff like this. The earlier than picture on this case is on the left, the model processed with DxO PureRAW 2 is on the fitting. Click the picture to see it full-size in a brand new tab.

For bigger prints, that is going to alter all the pieces and make me a lot happier with the ensuing images.

By the best way, the DxO individuals wouldn’t know me from Adam, so I’m not getting a penny for speaking about it (I paid full value for my model), and I’m not recommending the product a lot as saying, “Hey, look what I discovered!” My personal exploration of this plug-in could be very new at this level, however to date, I’m actually impressed. DxO gives a 30-day free trial right here, and is just USD$129 to buy. Not to overstate it, however it is likely to be one of the best $129 I’ve spent on my images in a very long time.

Enjoy the bears! I’m off to Churchill, Manitoba, to {photograph} polar bears subsequent week. I’ll contact base once I’m again!

For the Love of the Photograph,

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