Friday Photo: A Cool Swim at Katmai


It seems like a simple but special moment: a brown bear peeks his head from the deep blue ripples of Brooks River in Katmai National Park and Preserve with his fur washed back, revealing a timeless, almost sorrowful expression. Lucky shot, you might think.

But for freelance Alaskan photographer Patrick Endres, days of preparation may go into a single click of the shutter like this one—including hours and hours of trekking through wilderness with a heavy pack of gear, analyzing the light patterns, studying local wildlife, perching high and low for the best angles, and experimenting with different lenses, speeds, and focal points. Fortunately, when you pair Alaska’s vast landscapes and abundant wildlife with patience and skill, the result is a steady stream of spectacular shots like this one, which Endres documents at

Alaska is home to 54 million acres of national park land—two thirds of the acreage of the entire national park system, with more bears and moose and staggering mountain ranges and northern lights than you’ll find anywhere else in the States. If you want to head north with your camera, check out Endres’s excellent tips on capturing wildlife photos—complete with a peek into his gear bag. They’re a great complement to our own Scott Kirkwood’s photo tips, but specialized for the Land of the Midnight Sun. (And if you’re never gonna take photos in Alaska, click anyway to see the unbelievably cute short-eared owl about a third of the way down the page. No, really. Just go take a look.)

Of course, there’s always a wrong way to do it, too. For an alternate approach, check out this photographer who captured images of a bear wrecking his rented photography gear in Yellowstone!

About the Author

Online Editor Jennifer Errick

Jennifer Errick is managing editor of online communications at NPCA.