Right Place Right Time

Some photographers have all the luck, and their unusual images of wildlife show it

08-01-2003 // Mark Wexler

Right Place, Right Time magazine layout - polar bears and seagulls 
HOWIE GARBER admits he was lucky. During a trip to the North Slope of Alaska, he heard about an unusually large congregation of polar bears and glaucous gulls (above) feeding on a gray whale carcass that had washed up along the coast. He had no idea just how large that congregation was until he arrived at the site. "What you don’t see in my photo is that there were about 25 more polar bears waiting a few yards away for their turn at the carcass," says Garber, who managed to work his way to within 100 feet of the animals. "It was truly a once in a lifetime experience." The four other wildlife photographers whose images appear on this page have similar stories to tell. Each of them discovered the benefits of being in the right place at the right time.

Right Place, Right Time magazine layout - diver 

OFF THE COAST of Baja California, Glenn Vanstrum was photographing marine life when he saw one of his companions become engulfed by hundreds of Pacific round herring, packed together in a bait ball. "The herring were being attacked from below by yellowtail and from above by frigate birds," he says, "so they clustered around him for shelter." Seconds later, the herring surrounded Vanstrum, who recalls getting "slugged in the mouth by a feeding yellowtail."
Right Place, Right Time magazine layout - concord 

RALPH GINZBURG was in a small boat, photographing osprey on a nesting platform in New York City’s Jamaica Bay wildlife reserve, when the Concorde took off a few miles in the distance from JFK International Airport. "With the boat bobbing in the water and an extremely long telephoto lens on my camera," he recalls, "it was a real challenge to get enough depth of field into the image." The supersonic jet will take off for the last time this October.
Right Place, Right Time magazine layout - bear 

DURING AN AUTUMN hike in Alaska’s Katmai National Park, Patrick Endres suddenly encountered this female brown bear traveling with her cub (not pictured). "They became alarmed when a big male bear appeared nearby, and that’s when the female started moving towards me," he says. After making this photo, Endres stepped off the trail. "She and her cub were only 20 feet away when they passed me, but clearly they were concerned only with evading the male."
Right Place, Right Time magazine layout - deer 

THIS WHITE-TAILED deer buck found a perfect place to cool off on an unusually warm November day in western Massachusetts: under a waterfall at the base of an old mill dam on the Little River. "I saw him while I was driving on a road above the dam," says Gerald Eugene Tracy, who got out of his car and worked his way slowly down to the water. "He knew I was there but apparently it didn’t matter. I photographed him from different angles for 40 minutes and he didn’t budge."

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