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

(File photo)
PQB crime report: Vandals strike in Parksville, prowler lurks in Nanoose Bay

Oceanside RCMP receive 276 complaints in one-week period

The intersection of Despard Avenue and Moilliet Street, where a child was struck and injured in November 2020. (Mandy Moraes photo)
High-traffic Parksville intersection to get temporary 4-way stop

City staff to monitor effectiveness of traffic-calming measure at Despard and Moilliet

Vancouver resident Beryl Pye was witness to a “concerning,” spontaneous dance party that spread throughout social groups at Kitsilano Beach on April 16. (Screen grab/Beryl Pye)
VIDEO: Dance party erupts at Vancouver’s Kitsilano Beach to the dismay of onlookers

‘It was a complete disregard for current COVID-19 public health orders,’ says Vancouver resident Beryl Pye

Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance Chrystia Freeland responds to a question during Question Period in the House of Commons Tuesday December 8, 2020 in Ottawa. The stage is set for arguably the most important federal budget in recent memory, as the Liberal government prepares to unveil its plan for Canada’s post-pandemic recovery even as a third wave of COVID-19 rages across the country. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Election reticence expected to temper political battle over federal budget

Opposition parties have laid out their own demands in the weeks leading up to the budget

A syringe is loaded with COVID-19 vaccine at a vaccination clinic run by Vancouver Coastal Health, in Richmond, B.C., Saturday, April 10, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
B.C. to open up COVID vaccine registration to all B.C. residents 18+ in April

Registration does not equate to being able to book an appointment

(Black Press file photo).
Multiple stabbings at Vancouver Island bush party

Three youths hospitalized after an assault in Comox

Selina Robinson is shown in Coquitlam, B.C., on Friday November 17, 2017. British Columbia’s finance minister says her professional training as a family therapist helped her develop the New Democrat government’s first budget during the COVID-19 pandemic, which she will table Tuesday. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. finance minister to table historic pandemic-challenged deficit budget

Budget aims to take care of people during pandemic while preparing for post-COVID-19 recovery, Robinson said

Each spring, the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale is held in Penticton. This year, as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, the festival will not be held. However, beer is still available. How much do you know about this beverage? (pxfuel.com)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about beer?

Put your knowledge to the test with this short quiz

Pat Kauwell, a semi-retired construction manager, lives in his fifth-wheel trailer on Maxey Road because that’s what he can afford on his pension, but a Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw prohibits using RVs as permanent dwellings, leaving Kauwell and others like him with few affordable housing options. (Chris Bush/News Bulletin)
Housing crunch or not, it’s illegal to live in an RV in Nanaimo

Regional District of Nanaimo bylaw forcing pensioner to move RV he calls home off private farm land

Lord Tweedsmuir’s Tremmel States-Jones jumps a player and the goal line to score a touchdown against the Kelowna Owls in 2019. The face of high school football, along with a majority of other high school sports, could significantly change if a new governance proposal is passed at the B.C. School Sports AGM May 1. (Malin Jordan)
Power struggle: New governance model proposed for B.C. high school sports

Most commissions are against the new model, but B.C. School Sports (BCSS) and its board is in favour

The B.C. Centre for Disease Control has listed Harbour Air and Air Canada flights to and from Nanaimo, from April 3, 4 and 12, on its list of flights with COVID-19. (News Bulletin file)
COVID-19 cases reported for Nanaimo flights, says disease control centre

Nanaimo flights for April 3, 4 and 12 listed on BCCDC’s list of flights with COVID-19

Most Read