Drew Hamilton has been leading bear viewing trips all over the Alaska Peninsula since the late 1990s. He’s also spent six summers working for Fish and Game at the famed McNeil River State Game Sanctuary. Drew uses his incredible wildlife photography skills to do good for wildlife and wild places. In 2019, he was awarded the Daniel Housberg Wilderness Image Award from the Alaska Conservation Foundation for his use of imagery in the fight against the proposed Pebble Mine. He’s deeply involved in brown bear conservation and hopes sharing positive bear experiences with visitors will foster a sense of understanding and tolerance towards our ursine neighbors. These days he specializes in photography tours and workshops to help people maximize their brown bear photo potential. For more information on tours, check out goseebears.com and follow Drew on Instagram @drewhh

Product descriptions by Drew Hamilton

Olympus EM1 X Camera Body

Olympus EM1 X camera body

Over the last 20 years, I have seen darn near every camera on the market. I did a lot of shopping before finally deciding on Olympus. The cropped sensor gives exceptional reach, the stabilizers let me ditch the tripod, and the blazing frame rates capture the action like no other. The camera is weather-sealed, and its portable size makes it easy to fit in a floatplane filled with my other gear.

Olympus 150-400mm F/4.5 PRO Lens

When photographing bears, long glass is a must. The new 150-400mm f/4.5 with a built in 1.25X teleconverter gets you out to 1000mm. Having the teleconverter built right into the lens means no more switching lenses or converters in the field, keeping dirt and moisture out of the camera.

Gura Gear Kiboko V2.0 22L

Finding the right camera bag for guiding and photography was impossible until I found the Kiboko. Having the bag split down the middle allows me to keep my camera gear separate from my guiding gear and gives instant access. Large zipper pulls and shoulder straps are perfect for photographing aurora in the winter, so the bag fits over a parka and can be opened easily while wearing gloves.

1964 DeHavilland DHC-2 Beaver

I like to think of myself as a fantastic passenger, so I leave the flying to professionals. Thank goodness for Wes and Angela Head at Beluga Air. You don’t hire a pilot to take you somewhere…you hire a pilot to get you home, and Wes is one of the best. Their blue and green Beaver has been a fixture around Homer for decades, and every time I climb in, I have full confidence it will get us where we need to go. Family businesses like theirs are the backbone of Alaska’s diverse tourist economy.

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Bjorn Dihle is Alaska magazine's gear editor and a lifelong resident of southeast Alaska. You can follow him at instagram.com/bjorndihle or facebook.com/BjornDihleauthor.

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