Excellent Photo Adventures…Bosque Del Apache 2

The one constant at Bosque is that it is never the same from year to year.  Some folks don’t like that.  I think it’s great.  It provides many and varied photo opportunities from the classic Bosque sunrise…

Nikon D4, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II

 

to the afternoon flyout…

Nikon D4, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II

 

Each day provides us with many opportunities.  It’s up to us to make use our creative techniques to make magic…

Nikon D4, AF-S 70-200mm 2.8 VR II with TC-20E III

 

or to spot individual compositions that are pleasing to the eye…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-20E III

 

After over a decade of visits to Bosque I got my first images of cranes “dancing” without dozens of other cranes in the way not once but three different times in one morning…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR

 

So, when someone asks me each year “What are the conditions at Bosque?”  I say “They are great!”… and mean it.  Stay tuned.

 

Excellent Photo Adventures…Bosque Del Apache

Thanksgiving and Bosque Del Apache have become synonymous to me over the years.  Frank (my husband) always has to work on Thanksgiving so, I fly to New Mexico each November to visit Bosque for my last Excellent Photo Adventure of the year.  I typically spend a few days scouting the area to see what changes have been made from the previous year before my group arrives.  This year is showing great promise for outstanding photo opportunities.  In just the first two days I have been able to capture many classic Bosque images from first light at the Crane Pools where the Sandhill Cranes awaken to a new day…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-20E III

 

They spend a little time preening…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-14E II

 

And then, head off to the corn fields where they spend most of the day eating…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR

 

One of the things I am constantly on the lookout for is interesting behavior and with so may birds there is bound to be an altercation or two.  The key is to be ready to capture the brief action without other birds blocking the view.  I’ve had some successes but am still after that classic shot of dancing cranes…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-20E III

 

After the morning blast off and fly away we make a turn or two around the loop to see what else there is to photograph.  The wind direction plays a huge role in capturing the best flight shots in the best light.  So far the winds have not been completely cooperative for photographing the classic shot of snow geese flying straight into the camera (and good light) but, there are still excellent photo opportunities to be found.  I like the glow of the snow geese wings when they are side or backlit…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-20E III

 

I like to capture the snow geese flying in against a dark background causing them to pop.  Using my longest reach allows me to tighten up my composition as well as isolate single birds…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-20E III

 

The challenge is to capture a group of birds with some separation between them…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-20E III

 

Or, to capture some order in the chaos of a Snow Goose explosion…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-14E II

 

Creativity begins in the camera but, isn’t limited to just what I can capture.  I like to work an image or two and add my own creative touches that express my interpretation of a scene.  I used the Pinhole setting in NIK Silver Efex Pro 2.0 to create a dramatic vignette drawing your eye to the bird and minimizing the effect of a boring, clear sky…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-20E III

 

I used the Fine Art High Key setting in NIK Silver Efex Pro 2 for finishing this backlit snow goose image…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-20E III

 

As the sun drops lower in the western sky, the cranes come to the ponds to roost for the night.  With low light (ie: slow shutter speeds) it’s a great time to work on panning skills creating blur pans.  My keeper ration certainly goes way down but, the successes make it worth the effort…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-14E II

 

The key is finding the shutter speed that gives enough blur to convey the motion and yet still provides enough detail to recognize the subject and to keep an element of sharpness amongst the blur of wings…

Nikon D4, AF-S 500mm f4 VR with TC-14E II

 

The forecast calls for mild weather and clear skies for the first half of the week and possible clouds later on.  Whatever weather the Photo Gods provide you can be assured we will be out in the field working the birds.  Stay tuned.

 

 

 

 

 

Check Out My Interview On Pro Nature Photographer

ProNaturePhotographer

 

Musings Of A Fellow Adventurer…Churchill Polar Bears

Hi, my name is Sallie Jo and I live in NYC with my husband, Jim, I mention Jim because it is all his fault.  I know some of you may think that statement is a little harsh so let me explain.  About 13 years ago for my birthday, Jim bought me a Canon rebel film camera and from there I have spiralled into a black hole of photography equipment, photography trips – well, I am guessing that you reading this, my photo brethren, understand the photo black hole and if Jim hadn’t gotten me that first camera I wonder if I would be taking pictures today.  Luckily he did get me that camera and more importantly he is my constant source of support, understanding and encouragement – even when I tell him about some crazy trip I just have to do – thanks Jim!

 

I am primarily a wildlife photographer.  I get an amazing sense of wonder from animals and capturing their rawness and emotion which can be so much more unfiltered than people is very fulfilling to me.  Also, it is great excuse to travel to some amazing places like Antarctica (twice!), Alaska, Kenya, Iceland, etc.  My photography of wildlife can be a little divergent – I like to switch between the literal animal shot and the abstractions of animals and blurs.  The flamingo photo below was one of the first shots I took where I knew there was a path for my photography and it has now turned into a portfolio called The Art of Flamingos.  I love the abstraction of this flamingo collections, but also love literal animal shots too like the emperor penguin shot below…

Canon D30, EF 100-400mm 4-5.6 IS

 

Canon EOS 1D MK III EF 300mm 2.8L IS

 

I am writing this blog entry while I am still on a photo high from photographing polar bears in Churchill, Canada with Laurie and gang last week.  I have been trying to think about how best to describe Laurie’s workshops and I think I have so bear (get it – bear!) with me.  I sent a picture of the Northern Lights taken a week ago to my buddy Jed this past Sunday when I got back and after he told me how much he liked it I responded that I was pretty lucky to have gotten the shot.  Jed replied that it wasn’t luck being in the right place at the right time and I think he is on to something.   Going on a workshop with Laurie isn’t about luck, but about being in the right place at the right time.  I think this was my sixth workshop with Laurie and I keep signing up with her because I trust her to put me in the right place at the right time so I can get beautiful images – definitely not luck, but skill on Laurie’s part.

When I first met Laurie (it was a large workshop with multiple instructors) and she showed us pictures of bears, I told her right then and there that I wanted to go with her and only her for bears so here are a few gratuitous bear shots from last week.  For the record the polar bear sleeping here about a half hour before this picture was less than a foot away from me.

 

 

 

I cannot confirm or deny this, but Laurie, Joann, Craig and Ted said I was giggling the whole time I was a foot away from the world’s largest land carnivore.  Admittedly it wasn’t the first time that Laurie has told me to stop giggling and take the picture.

Oh, did I mention I was a Canon shooter?  I know some Canon folks might think Laurie is Nikon only and might not want to go with her on a trip, so let me just tell you about how when I was freaking out last week during the Northern Lights and couldn’t figure out my Canon settings it was Ms. Nikon who came to the rescue of this Canon shooter.

Besides beautiful pictures one of the best things workshops have given me are some truly great friends.  Sometimes when you are in the photography bubble it can be a little isolating so finding like-minded friends and enjoying a sense of community can be pretty terrific.  In 2005 I went on my first workshop to Antarctica (heck of a first workshop) where John Paul Caponigro and Seth Resnisk became some of my photo heroes, but more importantly I met friends Jed and Stephen who are like my photo brothers.  I met Bruce on my first workshop with Laurie and we have stayed in touch over the years and last year he showed me Kenya as I never thought I would see it along with Terry (best photo roommate ever) whom I had met with along with Dave, Bob and Marissa in Iceland.  I was invited to join JP’s NextStep group where I am a little bit of an odd ball being a kind of a token wildlife photographer in a sea of abstract photographers, compositors, and landscape photographers, but they like me anyway and our differences give some interesting perspective (go NS gals – Barbara, Beverly, Margie, Ginette & April).  I have created my own photo web of friends and support and if it hasn’t been for some great workshops I wouldn’t have that today – so maybe you should run not walk to a workshop – just saying.

Oh, so is this luck or was I just in the right place at the right time last week?  Maybe a little bit of both!

 

 

 

Please visit my hopelessly out-of-date website www.gritsphoto.com and my advice to you is to start giggling (even you guys) if you haven’t been when taking those pictures!