The alleged wildlife photographer's last photograph of a bear is spreading through internet like wildfire. A lot of people believe the story and repast it in the discussion forums and send it by email. But fewer people know that the photo (above) is a fake and has no relevance to the tragic accident that happened on August 8, 1996. Let us find out what really happened…
That day, a photographer Michio Hoshino was killed by a brown bear while on assignment in Kurilskoye lake. Mr. Michio "was on the peninsula as part of a team making a documentary film about brown bears. (…) The documentary was for a Japanese television network. (…) Hoshino was attacked by the bear in his tent on the bank of a lake at about 4 a.m. (…)The other team members heard Hoshino's screams and came running, but the bear dashed into the woods dragging Hoshino. (…) Searchers later found his body in the woods. source
As the eyewitnesses recall, Michio Hoshino's "cabin was crowded with a visiting Japanese television crew, so Hoshino—who abhorred snoring—chose to sleep in a tent." Guide Igor Revenko later gave this self-translated account: "The tragedy happened at 4 a.m. I woke up by call of cameramen: "Tent! Bear! Tent!" In two seconds, I and my brother and the rest of the crew got out and heard Michio's cry and bear's growl. It was dark and we flashlighted the tent being destroyed and bear back in the grass ten meters away. Immediately we started to yell enormously but bear didn't even rise a head. I found shovel and metal bucket and started to bang, three to five meters from bear. Bear rised head once very shortly, then took Hoshino's body by teeth and disappeared in the darkness." source
As for the photo itself, we can observe that it was created as a composition of two photos—a tent and a bear ones.
If you look at the light, it is clear it could not be done in 4 a.m. The light on the photo is more like noon. Also, we see that the bear's head is inside the tent, but the light on his nose does not support that notion. In addition, notice the shadow from the plants outside the tent, notice the light inside the tent—all points out to the sun being on the right side of a photographer. The bear, on the contrary, is lit from the left—I doubt there was an external flash outside the tent.
And what is more revealing—is that the bear's foot is also inside a tent, but in a strange way—too sharp line of a tent material, not the whole width of a foot is inside. Putting all the evidence together, we can say that this is clearly a fake photo.
Michio Hoshino (September 27, 1952—August 8, 1996) was a famous Japanese-born nature photographer. He originally hailed from Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture. In 1978 he left his native Japan and went to live in Fairbanks, Alaska. He was called one of the most accomplished nature photographers of our time and was compared to Ansel Adams. Hoshino specialized in photographing Alaskan wildlife. A memorial totem pole was raised in Sitka Alaska, on August 8, 2008—the month and day Michio Hoshino was killed, in honor of his work. Relatives and witnesses from Japan, including his widow, attended the ceremony. Hoshino's wife and son, only two years old at the time of his death, survive him. source, source
Some of his photos can be viewed on University of Alaska museum website.