Bosque del Apache Day 1

A typical day at Bosque (if you can call any day typical) begins and ends at the Crane pools where the birds leave the safety of the water each morning and return to roost each night. Morning finds the sun at our back and the world bathed in a warm glow…


Nikon D3S with AF-S 600mm f4 VR, TC-14E II

Based on the wind direction, we place ourselves up-wind of the birds to capture them as they fly by. A wide aperture provides both shallow depth of field turning the background to a soft blur and providing a fast enough shutter speed to stop the action…


Nikon D3S with AF-S 600mm f4 VR, TC-14E II

Evening presents a different challenge as the exposure is very different with sun side or backlighting the birds against a light sky…


Nikon D3S with AF-S 600mm f4 VR, TC-14E II

To the exposure as they drop lower with the darker hills in the distance as the background…


Nikon D3S with AF-S 600mm f4 VR, TC-17E II

I try to avoid “blinkies” (blown out highlights) and yet still capture detail in the birds while trying to balance the aperture, shutter speed and even the ISO to blur the background, capture the bird in sharp detail and work with the difficult lighting. I will often turn to manual exposure metering off the bird to provide the best exposure for my subject and letting the background exposure fall where it may.

At midday we found thousands of snow geese in the crane pools taking their daily baths. The exposure challenge here was to capture detail in the shadows and yet keep the blown out highlights to a minimum. I like the way the side light provides an ethereal glow to the geese’s white wings.


Nikon D3S with AF-S 600mm f4 VR, TC-20E III


Nikon D3S with AF-S 600mm f4 VR, TC-20E III

*Note: the above geese are actually Ross’s geese also found at Bosque in fewer numbers. When there are thousands of geese in front of you it’s hard to tell which is which but, the Ross’s geese are much smaller versions of the Snow geese with shorter bills. (There are many other tell-tale signs to look for when determining which is which but, these two distinctions help make a quick identity.

Back To The Bosque

My first visit to Bosque del Apache over a decade ago left such a lasting impression on me that I have returned nearly every year since. Each Thanksgiving finds me headed to New Mexico migrating, like the birds, for a short visit. Each visit brings new and wonderful experiences and photo opportunities. With more birds than they have had in years, the photo opps have been plentiful.

From the morning blast off when tens of thousands of snow geese take to the air at once in a chaotic orchestra of sight and sound that threaten to overload the senses to the point you have to remember to bring your camera to you eye and fire…


Nikon D3S with AF-S 24-120mm f4 VR

After the blast off we head to the “Crane” pools to capture flight shots as the Sandhill Cranes (numbering over 14,000 this year) depart for the farm fields to munch on corn, alfalfa and this year barley that was donated to the refuge to sustain the birds when the corn crop failed…


Nikon D3S with AF-S 600mm f4 VR

The snow geese count is higher than I have seen in years (over 56,000 as of the 23rd of Nov) and when the wind and light come together the magic happens…


Nikon D3S with AF-S 600mm f4 VR


Nikon D3S with AF-S 600mm f4 VR, TC-17E II

I always find time to visit New Mexico Tech at least once to photograph the Wigeons that hang out in the pond on campus…


Nikon D3S with AF-S 600mm f4 VR

Once the light begins to fade rather than packing it in right away, we take time to work on our panning skills with slow shutter speeds creating blur pans…


Nikon D3S with AF-S 600mm f4 VR, TC-14E II

You would think that after a long day we would call it a night to download images and prep for the next day but if the skies are clear, it doesn’t take much to entice me back out into the dark to work the night skies photographing star trails or the Milky Way…


Nikon D3S with AF-S 14-24mm 2.8

An enthusiastic group of adventures arrives tomorrow and after a mere two days here, I know that we will have an amazing time trying to capture the magic that is Bosque del Apache. Stay tuned.

Take-Off To Adventure

I am headed to New Mexico for an Excellent Photo Adventure at Bosque del Apache. The temps are dropping the bird count is growing. I can’t wait to see what the week has in store for an enthusiastic group of photographers. Stay tuned.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wishing you all a wonderful day filled with delicious food, great friends & good times! Happy Thanksgiving!