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The prospect of photographing grizzlies
drew Steve out in a small boat into the
waters of Southcentral Alaska where a
sudden fall storm made for one of the
most harrowing tales in his quest for
Alaskan wildlife.

Setting out in a 26 foot sail boat, Steve
and a colleague followed the Katmai
Coast, capturing dramatic images of
bears along the steep, rugged shores.

Knowing fall was approaching when the
seas can be particularly treacherous,
they watched the weather and thought
the 20 hour short-cut across the Shelikof
Straight seemed like a safe bet.

Across the sound, the engine died.
Then the weather changed. Winds
picked up – in the opposite direction
they wanted to go. 40 knot winds and
20 foot waves buffeted the small boat.
Bilge pumps struggled to keep up,
hour after hour.

In the pitch black of night, they
retreated for St. Augustine Island,
a volcanic island jutting out of the
Katchemak Bay, in search of safety
on the leeward side. Just before losing
contact with the Coast Guard, they
prepared their survival suits, fearing
the worst. Finally reaching the island, they awoke in daylight anchored
between two huge boulders on either
side of the boat, which would have sunk
the boat given less luck.

A Coast Guard helicopter flew by to see
if they were still alive. Indeed they were.


To photograph polar bears on the Arctic coast, Steve must get close - but not too close - to the ferocious yet sometimes playful creatures.

Hanging out on the Arctic coast,
Steve spotted spring cubs with their
mother, who eyed him warily.
The cubs however, playing tag with
each other like school children,
would charge at Steve then run off.

After a few days, the mother let her
guard down. She left the cubs playing
this game with Steve while she went
off to feed on a whale carcass.

One particularly curious bear tested
Steve. The young adult bear would
see how close it could get before
Steve would retreat. Watching Steve’s
response, the bear altered its tactics.
Dropping to the snow, it rolled around
playfully, pretending to ignore Steve.
Feeling safe, Steve dropped to his
belly, one eye glued to his camera.
Slowly, the bear pushed itself toward
Steve. Slyly, it did this until Steve
realized the bear was a mere 15
feet way!


Native Americans believed that when
the glaciers of the ice age retreated
in the north, the Creator left some
bears white to remind man that ice
gave life to the land.

These white black bears are extremely
rare, lacking a gene to give their coat
its black color. Steve set out to the
last area where a small population
exists – near Princess Royal Island.
After convincing a tour group to drop
him off in the remote area, Steve
set up his tent near a stream where
bears feed only catching glimpses
of the elusive spirit bear over five days.
With time running out on his trip,
Steve emerged one evening from
his tent to see the spirit bear. Startled,
it charged at him over a log, its hair
up, ears back, snapping its jaws.

Speaking to it calmly, Steve backed
away from the bear and it eventually
left. Believing he lost the opportunity
to photograph a spirit bear, Steve built
a blind and patiently waited. It paid
off - the spirit bear eventually returned
and felt more comfortable with him
and his camera.

8202 NE State Hwy 104, Suite 102, PMB 148, Kingston Washington 98346 USA • telephone 1.360.779.4350 • email steven@lefteyepro.com
© Steven Kazlowski Left Eye Productions. All Rights Reserved.
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