Updated: Jun 4, 2022
Why a Wonder: Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge offers an opportunity to make photographs of hundreds of sandhill cranes and snow geese silhouetted against a colorful and dramatic sky – as well as close-ups of these and other feathered friends.
Where: San Antonio, New Mexico.
When: Late November through January, when the birds stop here during their annual migration.
Photography: Most photographers go to Bosque to photograph what is called the “Blast Off,” a spectacular event during which hundreds of birds take off at the same time. To capture these spectacular scenes, which usually happen before sunrise and before sunset, you’ll need a wide-angle lens, like the Canon 24-105mm lens. You’ll also need a tripod to steady your cameras, as you may be photographing in relatively low light. And, you'll need to be ready to capture the action, as it happens fast and is usually over in less than a minute.
You’ll need to boost your ISO if you want a sharp shot of the birds, but you can reduce the noise later in the digital darkroom.
For perhaps a more artistic shot, try photographing at slow shutter speeds to slightly blur the birds. Also experiment with black-and-white photography.
For close-ups of the birds, most photographers bring telephoto zoom lenses in the 100-500mm range (like the Canon RF 100-500mm IS lens), while others bring 500mm and 600mm fixed focal length lenses.
The main photo locations area the flight deck area for sunrise and the crane pools for sunset. Driving the loops can also yield some nice photographs.
When photographing toward the sun, be aware that lens flare (light falling on your lens) can ruin a photograph. Always use a lens hood to shade your lens. A hand or hat can also help.
The sun can be very strong in Bosque, so on a clear day the good light is gone before 9 AM, and does not return until about 4 PM.
© Rick Sammon
This post sponsored by Delkin Devices.