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Canon See Impossible

Charles Glatzer - Polar Bear

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For the past 13 years in a row, I have been fortunate to visit the polar bears of Hudson Bay, Manitoba. Basically solitary animals, the polar bears of Hudson Bay will stage along the coast waiting for the ice to return and the opportunity to feed on seals.

The arctic and sub-arctic environment provides adventure and ground level photographic opportunities for Arctic wildlife, including polar bears, caribou, ptarmigan, snowy owl, gyrfalcon, arctic fox and more in a pristine untrammeled wilderness setting.

Canon See Impossible - Charles Glatzer - Polar Bear

Lingering male polar bears of similar age and size will often travel together for short periods of time. To break up the monotony, the bears often interact and play fight (spar), making for excellent photographic opportunities.

Canon See Impossible - Charles Glatzer - Polar Bear Cubs
Canon See Impossible - Charles Glatzer - Polar Bears Playing

Many photographers have difficulty determining proper exposure when the viewfinder is filled with mostly high key tonal values, such as polar bears in the snow. Think Histogram... where would the tonal value need to be placed on the histogram to accurately render the snow highlights with detail?

I use the Spot Meter built into my Canon cameras, metering on the snow highlights. I add 2 to 2.7 stops (depending on the light quality) above the mid-tone recommendation to render the snow highlights white with detail. The Spot pattern does one thing; it renders whatever is in the pattern as a mid-tone value, negating the background influence. And it does it accurately and consistently. I know exactly how the pattern works and what it does every time I depress the shutter. You only need to determine how much light to add or subtract from the meter recommendation to place the metered value as desired on the histogram.

Canon See Impossible - Charles Glatzer - Polar Bear Close-Up

Techniques, such as Exposing to the Right (ETR) and having a firm grasp in post-production techniques, allow you to extract all the information recorded in capture. Expertise in post-production is extraordinarily beneficial, as it allows you to see the finished image in your mind at the time of capture, before depressing the shutter.

Photography Tip:

A spot meter renders whatever is in the pattern a mid-tone.

If you want the element metered to appear brighter, add exposure; to appear darker, subtract exposure. How much brighter is the snow than mid-tone gray? If pure white is roughly +3 stops above a mid-tone, then snow with detail is +2 in sunlight to +2.7 on an overcast day. Depending on your camera's dynamic range, the exact exposure may vary a bit, it is best to verify the exposure via the camera histogram and proceed accordingly.

Canon See Impossible - Charles Glatzer - Polar Bear
Canon See Impossible - Charles Glatzer - Polar Bear Shaking Off Snow

Gear Tip #1:

When using a carbon fiber tripod in deep snow, make sure you pull out the leg locks - doing so will allow the legs to splay out as they are pushed deeper into the snow pack. If you do not do this, there is a good chance you will break the leg at the upper leg joint where it joins the flange.

Canon See Impossible - Charles Glatzer - Polar Bear Family

Gear Tip #2:

To avoid camera and lens fogging when coming in from the cold - while outside, remove the camera batteries and CF cards, thereafter, place the camera gear back in your camera bag or in a waterproof stuff sack. Do not open the camera bag or stuff sack until the gear reaches the interior room ambient temperature! Additionally, by placing the batteries and CF cards in a small sealed bag, they will acclimate much quicker, avoiding condensation on electric contacts.

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Canon Explorer of Light - Charles Glatzer

Charles Glatzer discusses his career and passion for photography in our series of videos introducing our Explorers of Light.

For more information on Charles, please visit:

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