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.