When landscape and travel photographer George Turner first read about the brown bear population of eastern Finland, he didn't wait a minute to book his flight out. Armed with his trusty Nikon kit, George ventured deep into the Suomussalmi Forest, and the resulting images give a magical insight into the lives of these majestic creatures....

So tell us more about your trip to Finland – what inspired you to go?

I've always had a fascination with brown bears, especially because of their legendary status in the chronicles of European history. These days bears have all but vanished from the forests of Europe apart from one place.... eastern Finland. In fact, it's the highest concentration of European brown bears on the entire continent. The second I read about it, I booked within the hour.

How did you find it being so close up to the bears?

Exhilarating doesn't even come close. Bears came within centimetres of my camera and you're so "in the moment" you don't even feel fear. It's a strange sort of serenity living amongst them; it's their territory and I felt privileged to be let inside it.

Do you have a favourite shot from the series?

My favourite shot is of a male bear sitting on his haunches, looking pensively into the distance. He'd just come into the area and scared away a family of bears and another adolescent male. I'm not sure whether the look on his face was guilt or whether he was dreaming about what meal he'd like next... hopefully not me!

What kit did you use to get the shots and how did it benefit you?

I went into the hide with the Nikkor 300mm f/4 and Nikkor 17-35 f/2.8. The 300m was fantastic for its legendary sharpness but moreover, it's weight. Being able to move quickly and efficiently was so important and it really came through. My wide angle zoom - the 17-35 - proved equally as useful when I encountered some more inquisitive bears. It's performance in low light is second to none.

What’s up next for you?

I'm now working on a project closer to home, photographing and filming Eurasian otters. After that, it's arctic foxes in Norway (who are, locally, critically endangered), polar bears on Svalbard and then back to the brown bears next summer! I'll be taking my trusty Nikon gear with me to all.

For more information visit www.georgetheexplorer.com/
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