Trouble’s a bruin: B.C. photographer’s images of grappling grizzlies garner international acclaim

Two giant grizzly bears engaged in a territorial fight. (Wayne Duke photo)Two giant grizzly bears engaged in a territorial fight. (Wayne Duke photo)
A grizzly bear gets his meal. (Wayne Duke photo)A grizzly bear gets his meal. (Wayne Duke photo)
Two giant grizzly bears fight for the best fishing spot. (Wayne Duke photo)Two giant grizzly bears fight for the best fishing spot. (Wayne Duke photo)

Images from a Parksville wildlife photographer, who snapped photos of a pair of grizzly bears locked in a fierce battle, are garnering international media attention.

Wayne Duke’s photos recently caught the eye of the Daily Mail in Britain.

Duke, a regular contributor to the PQB News, captured the surly bruins growling at each other with their menacing teeth bared while in the Tahumming River in Toba Inlet.

He and four of his photographer friends chartered a boat from Campbell River for a day for the sole purpose of photographing grizzlies.

“I happened to come across a situation where two of them decided to do a little territorial dispute in the water,” Duke said. “I had some action shots of the two bears carrying on.”

The retired firefighter deals with a United Kingdom-based photo agency, which provides materials for publication in various newspapers, tabloids and magazines, including the Daily Mail.

“To witness the speed and sound of these two male grizzlies confronting each other over the best fishing spot for spawning salmon was incredible and breathtaking, even for a wildlife photographer,” said Duke.

READ MORE: Close encounter with angry cougar no garden party for Qualicum Beach

Grizzly bears are just one of the many wildlife creatures that Duke focuses on. His subjects include orcas, sea lions, foxes, mandarin and female wood ducks and more.

“Those are a few things that I am presently working on,” said Duke.

His passion for photographing wildlife has led him around the world to locations including Africa, Mexico and Europe.

“When an opportunity presents itself and I can do it, I will try to capture any wildlife that jumps in front of my lenses,” said Duke, a self-taught photographer.

Depending on where he goes, he said the quest is always exciting but there are also potential perils.

“You should know or have some sort of an idea of what you’re getting yourself into,” said Duke. “Always have a safe route in and out and know the animals you’re dealing with. There’s nothing that says their habits can’t change instantly. You have to be aware especially when the bears are feeding in the fall. A lot of the times they’re more concern about filling their bellies than they are with people. But things can happen if you are in the wrong spot.”

Duke said photographing wildlife is not as simple as lining subjects up for the desired shot.

“No wildlife just does what it wants to do,” said Duke. “If you’re lucky enough to catch a moment, then consider yourself fortunate.”

Aside from worrying about the subjects Duke aims to capture, he too has to worry about lighting conditions and the necessary adjustments he must make.

“That’s what photography is about, light,” said Duke. “So what your eye sees is what your camera sees. I don’t care how big or how good the lens you have. If it’s dark, it’s dark.”

Duke said learning how to use the equipment also helps. He advises taking a few of shots and then stopping to check your camera settings.

“You may lose a couple of photos but it’s always good to know what your settings are and that they are sufficient that you can continue,” said Duke. “Otherwise you’d end up with stuff that’s garbage.”

Duke said he has been fortunate over the years to have been able to purchase some of the best photography equipment available and calls it a worthwhile investment.

“It makes a difference, trust me,” said Duke. “I have looked at my photos that were taken before I bought my professional Nikon lens. I compared the photos after that. I was shooting myself in the pants for not buying the lens sooner than when I did.”

Michael.Briones@pqbnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter 

bearsgrizzlyNatureParksvillePhotography

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

After gaining international recognition as The Konkens back in the 1970s, Frank and Ruby Konken had their two boys join the band in the ‘80s. They renamed themselves K-Kountry, performing country music to adoring audiences near and far. Photo: Frank Konken
Trail Blazers: Renowned musicians Frank and Ruby Konken

From country to Russian tunes, the Konkens are instrumental players in the world of recorded music

Louie Bedin at one of his rock walls with granddaughter, Felicia. Of his rock wall expertise Louie says, “You have to like to do it. You resolve. You say, ‘I did it.’ I’m happy I did it, because it is hard work, there is no doubt about it. I used to enjoy it.” Photo: Submitted
Celebrating Louie Bedin, Trail’s surviving stonemason extraordinaire

Luigi Giorgio Bedin said goodbye to his family in Italy on April 9, 1957.

Email letters to editor@trailtimes.ca.
Letter: Stand up for your taxpaying citizens

“We are no longer asking, but imploring that something be done.”

Nav Canada will not be closing the tower at West Kootenay Regional Airport. Photo: Betsy Kline
Nav Canada tower to remain open at West Kootenay Regional Airport

The organization was considering closing the tower

Dresses hang outside Nelson city hall as part of the REDress Project by Métis artist Jaime Black. Photo: Bill Metcalfe
Nelson’s REDress Project exhibit vandalized

The REDress Project brings attention to missing and murdered Indigenous women

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and United States President Joe Biden smile as they say farewell following a virtual joint statement in Ottawa, Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Trudeau pledges to cut emissions by 40% to 45% by 2030, short of U.S. goal

Trudeau announced target during a virtual climate summit convened by U.S. President Joe Biden

As part of the province’s strategy to combat the opioid overdose crisis, take-home naloxone kits have been distributed throughout the province. (Courtesy of Gaëlle Nicolussi)
Vancouver Island could be at its worst point of overdose crises yet: medical health officer

Island Health issued overdose advisories for Victoria, various communities in the last two weeks

BC Hydro released a survey Thursday, April 22. It found that many British Columbians are unintentionally contributing to climate change with their yard maintenance choices. (Pixabay)
Spend a lot of time doing yard work? It might be contributing to climate change

Recent BC Hydro survey finds 60% of homeowners still use gas-powered lawnmowers and yard equipment

Journal de Montreal is seen in Montreal, on Thursday, April 22, 2021. The daily newspaper uses a file picture of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau dressed in traditional Indian clothing during his trip to India to illustrate a story on the Indian variant of the coronavirus. Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press
Montreal newspaper blasted for front-page photo of Trudeau in India

Trudeau is wearing traditional Indian clothes and holding his hands together in prayer beside a caption that reads, ‘The Indian variant has arrived’

Nanaimo RCMP say a man was injured while pouring gunpowder on a backyard fire in Harewood on Wednesday, April 21. (File photo)
Nanaimo man hospitalized after pouring gunpowder onto backyard fire

RCMP investigating explosion in Harewood also came across a still for making alcohol on property

Provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry arrives for briefing on the COVID-19 situation, B.C. legislature, Oct. 26, 2020 (B.C. government)
B.C. sees 1,006 COVID-19 cases Thursday, ‘alarming’ 502 in hospital

Vaccine bookings for people aged 60 and older set to start

Shannon Zirnhelt, from left, her son Lockie, 3, Julia Zirnhelt, 13, and Ella Krus, 13, co-founders of Third Planet Crusade are featured in a music video set to air on Earth Day, April 22, 2021. (Monica Lamb-Yorski photo - Williams Lake Tribune)
B.C.-made music video launched in time for Earth Day 2021

Singer songwriter Shannon Zirnhelt worked with Third Planet Crusade on the project in the Cariboo

Ambulance crews have been busy with a record number of emergency overdose calls this Wednesday, April 21. (BC Emergency Health Services)
B.C. paramedics responded to a record 138 overdose calls in a single day

Wednesday’s calls included 48 in the Vancouver Coastal Health region and 51 in Fraser Health

Most Read