I spent a week at Silver Salmon Lodge in Alaska in July, 2014. A friend had been there a couple of times in July and was rewarded with some wonderful cub shots which inspired me to go. It was wonderful. Landing on the beach I could see several brown bears in the area from the air. We were met on the beach by Cody, who was my guide for the week and was he terrific. Enthusiastic, energetic and seemingly having as much fun as I was. During the stay a 4 wheeled motorcycle pulls small aluminum carts around that have seats built in to the sides, to hold about 4 people each. There is a lot of opportunity to observe bears. We were going out at 6:30, 6 if the tide was low, shooting until breakfast at 8: back out at 9 until 1; back out at 3 until 7; and back out at 8 until 10. The bears are comfortable around people and they sometimes get very close, even with cubs.
David Coray and his son, Oliver, run the place with a wonderful cast of lodge staff and guides. The food was beyond good and the rooms comfortable. I was a single, so stayed in a small room in the lodge. Couples or groups stayed in cabins.
There is a puffin colony about an hour's boat ride away which provided some nice opportunities to get puffins in flight. Unfortunately, the weather turned bad and we couldn't get good shots from the boat. The one's I've posted were taken while standing on a small beach. It definitely took a learning curve, as these guys fly fast. Even at 1/4000 I was getting some wing blur. I was told that in August, the chicks have hatched and the adults are coming back carrying fish. I need to go back for that opportunity.
July is a time when the bears are consuming grass and plants in the meadows and digging razor clams on the beach when the tide is low. Even the cubs, supported by their mother's milk, eat grass right along with her. Some bears are better at getting the clams than others, as the clams did quickly deeper to avoid danger. Females in general are better at it than males. What else needs be said?
By August, the lupine bloom is over and fire weed comes into bloom, as do berries in the forest. The bears are busy either catching salmon or eating berries. I plan to go back for that and combine it with some other locations in Alaska.
I took most of my keeper shots with a 600mm, although a 200-400 lens would have been perfect, as the 600 was often too much. Make sure to bring rain gear for your equipment, as rain in Alaska is to be expected. The temps ranged from the 40's to 60's, so wear layers. Also, be prepared for bugs when the wind is low. I was saved by someone I met there who have me her head bug net as she was leaving. the lodge has bug spray but I prefer to avoid it when possible.
Feel free to email me if you have any questions I can help you with on your own adventures.