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

Eighteen-year-old Aidan Webber died in a marine accident in 2019. He was a Canadian Junior BMX champion from Nanaimo. (Submitted)
Inadequate safety training a factor in teen BMX star’s workplace death in 2019

Aidan Webber was crushed by a barge at a fish farm near Port Hardy

Hecht Beach cabin in ashes. (Submitted)
Beloved secret cabin lost to fire on the North Island’s west coast

The trappers cabin was shared with locals, but kept mostly secret

An Atlantic salmon is seen during a Department of Fisheries and Oceans fish health audit at a fish farm near Campbell River, B.C. in 2018. Mowi Canada has applied to the Federal Court of Canada for a judicial review of the decision by Fisheries Minister Bernadette Jordan to phase out salmon farming in the Discovery Islands by June, 2022. (Canadian Press/Jonathan Hayward photo)
Major B.C. salmon farms seek court intervention in Discovery Islands ban

Fisheries minister is phasing out operations in the area by June 2022

Michelle Lau with donations that have already been contributed for families kept away from home due to the Town Park Apartments fire. (Zoe Ducklow Photo)
Fundraiser started for tenants left hanging after apartment fire

Tenants not allowed back in to get personal items, so in need of clothes, food, gift cards

A mattress on fire gutted the second floor hallway at Town Park Apartments C-block Jan. 17. (Port Hardy Fire Rescue images)
‘Suspicious’ Port Hardy apartment fire could keep tenants out of their homes for months

A burning mattress created smoke and heat, causing several tenants to jump from windows

Maj.-Gen. Dany Fortin, vice-president of logistics and operations at the Public Health Agency of Canada, speaks at a news conference on the COVID-19 pandemic in Ottawa, on Friday, Jan. 15, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Justin Tang
B.C. records 500 new COVID-19 cases Wednesday, 14 deaths

Outbreak at Surrey Pretrial jail, two more in health care

A suspect has been arrested in connection with fires at Drinkwater Elementary (pictured) and École Mount Prevost. (Kevin Rothbauer/Citizen)
Arson suspect arrested after fires at Cowichan Valley schools

Drinkwater Elementary and Mount Prevost schools hit within a week

A woman writes a message on a memorial mural wall by street artist James “Smokey Devil” Hardy during a memorial to remember victims of illicit drug overdose deaths on International Overdose Awareness Day, in the Downtown Eastside of Vancouver, on Monday, August 31, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. paramedics respond to record-breaking number of overdose calls in 2020

On the front lines, COVID-19 has not only led to more calls, but increased the complexity

Chartwell Malaspina Care Residence in Nanaimo. (News Bulletin file photo)
Two Nanaimo care-home residents have died during COVID-19 outbreak

Death reported Monday was the second related to Chartwell Malaspina outbreak, says Island Health

Rod Bitten of Union Bay won $500,000 in the Lotto Max draw on Jan. 15. Photo supplied
Vancouver Island electrician gets shocking surprise with $500K Extra win

Rod Bitten has been hard at work with home renovations, which is… Continue reading

Oyster River Fire Rescue members were called out to a suspicious fire in Black Creek. Two vehicles parked at a private residence were destroyed by fire. Photo courtesy Oyster River Fire Rescue
Suspicious fire destroys two vehicles at Vancouver Island residence

Oyster River Fire Rescue personnel were dispatched to a fire at a… Continue reading

Members of the BC RCMP Explosive Disposal Unit (EDU) is on route to Drummond Park opposite of Fulford Habour on Saltspring Island after the discovery of a suspicious cylindrical-shaped device. (Google/Screencap)
Bomb disposal unit en route to Salt Spring Island after suspicious device found in park

Police say a resident discovered the device Wednesday morning in Drummond Park opposite BC Ferries terminal

Seven streets in downtown Duncan, including Station Street, will soon have new native names added to their signage. (Submitted graphic)
New Duncan street signs will be in English and Hul’q’umi’num

Seven streets to get additional names in First Nations language

Southern resident killer whales in B.C. waters. Research shows the population’s females are more negatively influenced by vessel traffic than males. (Photo supplied by Ocean Wise Conservation Association)
Female orcas less likely to feed in presence of vessel traffic: study

Research the southern resident population raises concerns over reproduction capacity

Most Read