After the morning blastoff of geese from the farm ponds, we drove to the Train Pond at Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge just across the highway from the train tracks. This pond still held masses of Snow Geese waiting for whatever signals them to blast off. Unlike the much larger congregation that blasted off thirty minutes before en masse, this group seemed to lift off in ones and twos, not the entire gaggle at once. As I looked at the scene, I realized it would be interesting to capture a few at a time with the other white geese as a backdrop. I succeeded in my quest with a couple of images that turned out as I imaged… a pair of Snow Geese flying against a field of out-of-focus white geese.
I used the Nikon D5 and 600mm lens to capture this image.
It was 13° at 5:30 AM Monday morning when we arrived at Bosque del Apache Wildlife Refuge to photograph the morning blastoff. There were some wispy clouds and pink sky as the sun rose. We soon heard the distant din of geese blasting off from their nighttime roost on the farm ponds at Bosque. We were quite a ways away from the blastoff so we saw silhouettes of the birds as they flew through the morning sunrise off to their feeding grounds. A few minutes later, the din quieted and the birds disappeared. I took the first photograph with the Nikon D5 and 600mm lens; the second with the Nikon D500 and 18-35mm lens.
Last year, just after the explosion of Snow Geese taking off from the pond, an event that starts their day, the sunrise was spectacular. A few straggler geese are barely visible as black dots on the lower left.
I’m heading back to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in San Antonio, New Mexico. The refuge is winter home to huge flocks of Sandhill Cranes, both Greater and Lesser as well as Snow Geese and Ross’s Geese. Because my home is in the midst of the Pacific Flyway, I know those species are in the Sacramento area refuges now and some of my local photography friends are capturing incredible images of these magnificent birds. However, my trip to Bosque, with Moose Peterson and a couple of other friends, gives me an opportunity to spend five days straight shooting from sun up to sundown in relatively close proximity to the birds. We’re able to follow them from the ponds at sunrise where they roost at night to the fields where they feed during the day and back to the ponds at sunset. Last year’s trip there was an experience I’m thrilled to repeat. I hope to improve on my panning technique with the 600mm lens. Despite the fact that these are huge, slow flying birds, it is still a challenge to follow their flight and capture tack sharp images. Here are a couple of images from last year’s visit; the first is a Lesser Sandhill Crane, the second, a Snow Goose. I took these shots about a minute apart on the first morning in Bosque.
When I went out to pick up the Friday morning paper, the sky was a beautiful orange. I went back inside, put the 300mm on my D5 and went right back out to capture the morning color that quickly disappeared. When I viewed the images, I felt rather melancholy. Then I realized this sky reminded me of how the Southern California skies must look with the out-of-control wildfires currently raging. It’s beautiful here, horrifying there.
A scene from Kent Pond near Killington, VT.
This scene at the side of the road caught out attention on the last day of our visit to Killington, Vermont.
The shore at Oregon’s Bandon Beach provided lots of gorgeous vistas last month.
Sunday afternoon, I couldn’t resist practicing creating more lighthouse beams on the Coquille River Lighthouse at Bandon Beach in Oregon. In this image, a small flock of ducks appears to be using the beam from the lighthouse to guide them to their night’s roost.
For the past several days, I’ve been seeing toadstools popping up everywhere in my yard. I particularly liked this group of toadstools and knew I wanted to get a ground level closeup. But, at 9AM, still in my bathrobe (Saturday’s my day off from the gym) how could I best capture the scene I was after? First, I put to use a tool from my beach panning arsenal—the panning plate on the Frisbee. That held the camera steady while I placed it on the ground. I used the D500 with its flip out screen so I didn’t have to get down on the ground with the camera to look through the viewfinder. I might do that on a sandy beach when I’m dressed properly but not on the wet lawn in my bathrobe and flip flops. I decided that the macro lens would not really get the effect I sought, so I used the 300mm lens and a remote to trigger the camera. I wanted a grungy look with a soft background but I also wanted to see the details of the toadstools so I took some of the shots wide open at f/4 and some at f/14. I merged the two shots in Photoshop so I could get all of them in focus but retain the shallow depth of field and then used a Luminar 2018 tonal contrast enhancer preset to get this final image.