I photographed this wild brown bear cub from a hide in the taiga forests in east Finland, close to the Russian border. This image was shot on one of the first photo tours I ran there.

This cub was on its own and therefore very cautious. Large males have a tendency to kill the cubs, so they have every reason to be careful. When the sound of a breaking twig moved through the forest, the cub rocketed up the closest tree.

It's amazing how fast these fur balls can climb. When they're up this high, they get a good view of the surroundings, and at the same time they're safe from large males because they don't get as high as the cubs. It is also suprising to see how long they can actually stay up a tree and not getting muscle cramp or anything.

As for the image itself, the obvious choice was to shoot this as a vertical to emphasize the height of the tree and the high position of the cub, but I wanted to use the position of the trees and the shallow depth of field in my composition, so I went for a landscape version.

This image is part of a series of five that was published in National Geographic.

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