American Black Bear

Driving along skyline drive in the late afternoon after a full day of high winds and rain, the weather began to clear. The road winds in and around the mountains with sweeping landscapes filled with autumn colored forests and clouds misting over the mountainside.


It was time to return to the Big Meadows Lodge for a social with the hiking group I was traveling with. Running a little late I was trying my best to not get distracted along the way. But then, all of a sudden something big, black and furry was scurrying over the stone wall.

Wait a minute…could it be? Is it possible? YES !! It’s a beautiful black bear that had run off into the forest. Coming to a screeching halt and quickly grabbing my primed and ready-to-go camera with 500mm lens attached, I leaned against the stone wall and found him tucked in the underbrush.


It was tough to focus on him with all the small branches in front of him, so for some crazy reason I thought I could actually see clearly and went onto manual focus and dialed it in. Seems I was off the mark. I would have been better selecting just the single center focus point and set it on one shot focus mode and I would have gotten more in focus images like this first one.


But truly, I didn’t care as I was doing the Happy Bear Dance. In fact, the Happy Bear Dance went on all night. And this was only one of the many highlights of my short trip to the Shenandoah mountains this week.

The American Black Bear is the only bear species found in Shenandoah National Park, and they have found a safe haven within the park. Populations have improved over the past few decades and can number in the several hundred depending on weather and foraging conditions.

Now I’m off to do the Happy Bear Dance again. Still flying on cloud nine with this find.


26 replies »

  1. I know that “Happy Dance” feeling, Emily. It happened to me several weeks ago when I was faced with a similar situation trying to photograph a Bobcat. I locked that single focus point on his face and got lucky. Love your photos. I think you got them nailed pretty good. Hope to photograph a Black Bear on an upcoming trip to the Big Bend National Park this winter.

  2. Good for you!!!…
    “Look for the bare necessities
    The simple bare necessities
    Forget about your worries and your strife
    I mean the bare necessities…”! πŸ˜‰

  3. Fabulous captures, I have done that big ‘panic’ thing with my settings so many times ha. You have managed to get some great shots.

  4. I think in the circumstances you did well. There are times when I long for my old Olympus and a Vivitar telezoom I had. DSLR and auto-focus lenses are great, I love my Canon kit, BUT SOMETIMES I just wonder……………..

  5. Fantastic! Amazing shots Emily. Bet you are glad you had the telephoto with you – you wouldn’t want to get much closer with a 50 πŸ™‚

  6. Wow! How exciting for you! I know I would have had a stroke right on the spot and got zero pics if I ever saw an amazing animal like this. Glad you came back with terrific shots!

  7. That’s it, I need a 500!

    Great job & Good eye(s)!!! I know the settings panic too. It’s a tricky moment because you want to get your camera right and yet you also don’t want to miss the moment all together. But you captured it for sure. I think, for me at least (much more amateur), it’s a miracle to have gotten any cool, clear shots of such a special creature. So cool, and I like how he’s (she?) is looking right at you. Don’t you wish you could know what they were thinking? “I swear, if you don’t get outta here in 5, 4, 3, 2…” or is it “what’s going on? What’s she doing? Is she coming over here? I’m gonna run, I’ll do it…”

    Thanks for sharing.

    • I laughed so hard and outloud when I read the first line your comment. Of course I had to share it with hubby.

      You know that bear was thing…damn..another tourist. Why don’t they leave me alone. Sigh..guess I’m the one that’s got to move.

      • HA! That’s good cuz I so mean it. I’ve got an expensive Christmas Wish list…lol.

        I believe the bear was thinking that for sure. That’s probably more irritating for them than the collars on the deer! If I were a bear I’d probably have a little fun and run after some people every once in a while. Not anything prolonged just a quick sprint in their direction, then back to my berries. πŸ˜‰

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