Just Do It

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I have been obsessed with wild animals since I was a kid. Besides school, I would always be doing these back then:

  1. While waiting at dad's work place after my school, I would rewatch the recorded video tapes of wild animal shows, again and again. I particularly remembered a scene of a peregrine falcon dive-bombing from a cliff. It was really cool. And I love the golden eagle.
  2. Read the "Magnificent Animal World" book I picked for my 6th birthday, cover to cover.
  3. Read the wildlife stories by Ernest Seton including one of my favorites, "Monarch, the big bear of Tallac", and told my parents the stories that deeply touched me, hoping they would feel the same.
  4. Wrote essays about my feeling about the animals after watching the TV shows.
  5. Drew animals on any papers I could find.​

The magnificent animal world.

Then I forgot all these childhood dreams when exams, schools, and life kicked in. 

Until I saw them again. The peregrine falcon in California. The golden eagle in Alaska. And the coastal brown bears. ​Why did they look so familiar even though it was the first time I saw them face to face?

I went back to Alaska again and again, wondering why.

I didn't know their images had deeply imprinted in my brain since childhood.

I saw the brown bear mother and spring cubs. They melted my heart, and I took thousands of photos. Then one year at the lodge, my bear guide and friend Barrett showed me pics of spring cubs on mama bear's back.

"They do that??" I asked.

"You should have come 2 days earlier," Barrett said. I went back 2 days earlier the next year, but of course no luck.

I don't know why. I just have a thing for bear cubs on mother's back. Maybe it reminded me of my childhood where my grandma used to carry me.

Aren't we all trying to chase back those feelings of what we have lost permanently?

I forgot whether it's the Planet Earth or Frozen Planet by BBC that I saw the high def video of polar bear mother and new born cubs the first time in my life. "Is there anything more endearing than that in the world?" I said to myself.

I went into a frenzy, browsing through internet to learn more.

One needs to put things in perspective and acknowledge the fact that polar bears live among ice and snow. A place where humans couldn't last for a minute. New born cubs would pop up from the den in such harsh environment and they thrive! They play and check out everything with their curious eyes. How amazing is that!

I once read somewhere that said, if a photo touches you deeply and makes you want to catch the next plane to go to that place to see it with your own eyes, that photo is a success.​

With that naivety and ​impulse, I started wildlife photography, and soon found myself with frozen eye glasses and camera viewfinder, shivering in -50F windchill with not enough clothing, barely holding on to my tripod and camera.

And not only did I finally see the polar bear mother and cubs, but I also saw the mythical phenomena of a cub on the back, backlit in this winter wonderland, more importantly, at their disappearing natural habitat. They were real... wait, and they were smiling too... I must be dreaming again...

I hope you would want to catch the plane one day to see them with your own eyes too.​ 

Canon 1DX, Canon 600mm f/4, 1.4x, f/13, 1/1600s, ISO 1600, RRS tripod.

If you enjoy this post, and want to hear more about my polar bear encounters, don't forget to sign up my email list so I can send you bi-monthly updates.

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