Bosque del Apache NWR is a sacred part of our wild heritage preserving a spectacle a millennium in the making! I feel very fortunate to have been wondering its landscape for the past thirty-nine years with my camera. I have to admit I spent the vast majority of my time just watching more than shooting, both seem to place my warmth deep in my soul. Don’t get me wrong, I do take a few photos, this one is #26009 of Greater Sandhill Cranes to be filed in the digital library with another 16k in the slide file. A case could be made I’ve been there, done that yet #26009 proves that wrong. “It only takes one” the proverbial answer to how many photos does it take. My problem is, I want the one so I keep going out. For myself, #26009 comes really close in telling the story of the Sandhill Crane at Bosque del Apache, NM. At least, for today.
Photographer or not, we’ve all seen that killer sunrise or sunset. That puts the challenge on us to take our sunrise / sunset beyond the common to the uncommon. One real simple and effective way to do that is place an element(s) in that color to make the viewer stop and look. In this case, it’s a big flock of Snow Geese lifting off a pond at Bosque del Apache. You can then up this simple idea by having some pattern, symmetry to the elements you have in the frame. And in this case, shooting with the 800mm lens, I was able to isolate the most intense portion of the color with the geese. That’s just adding another layer to added somethin with the color.
They are often confused as being wolves in winter. It’s those rich, think winter coats that make the Coyote look so spectacular. There is a size difference between Coyotes and the Gray Wolf but if they are not side by side, that knowledge doesn’t help. Just look at the tip of the tail. See that black, yep, that’s a Coyote. This pair are two of four that were trying their very best to take advantage of a four day old elk kill. Well, elk drowning would be more accurate. It seems the bull was trying to cross the Lamar River, fell through the thin ice and couldn’t get back out and drowned. The Coyotes and other scavengers thought they had the perfect frozen dinner until the body got trapped under the ice, only its massive rack was above. That didn’t stop them from trying and providing us with a great show and some fun photo opps.
The alarm went off at 01:45 and the clock announced the outside temp was 8 degrees. I had setup the rig, Z 9 / 800f5.6AFS, the night before so all I had to do was step out on the deck and photograph the Blood Moon, the total eclipse. I could see the moonlight outside so I was delighted. I stepped out and looked up to see the clouds ripping by. I looked at the time, I had ten minutes until the eclipse would start. As the time got closer the clouds got thicker and thicker. Then the eclipse started and what you see is what I saw. I few minutes later, I could no longer see the shadow of the earth as the moon became just a glow behind the clouds. I decided to stay up until 03:16 when totality was supposed to occur. I bundled up at 03:05 and went outside, it was really dark. I was hopeful until I looked up. There wasn’t even a glow from the moon, there were just a huge wall of clouds.
Photography has no guarantees, none! You can own the best gear, have the best technique, be on top of your craft and be in the right place at the right time but that doesn’t mean you’ll come back with the photo you want. It’s at times like this and I have had hundreds of them, I think about those words by James Taylor. “The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time.” Amen
Those two hours flew! That’s what the clock said when the River Otters finally went on their very merry way, but it seemed like it was just a few minutes. What appeared to me a female with two pups from the spring (I honestly don’t know if that’s the case) appeared just to be having the grandest of times. Perched over the Lamar River, what I could see in the 800mm was sheer enjoyment at being free in the ice cold waters to do whatever their mood struck them. It was the first time in my shooting career that stills were totally inadequate to tell the story. I shot nearly thirty minutes of their antics and in watching that video, smiling and laughing all over again. I now see this as a personal challenge, taking those feelings from the action and translating it into a single still image. I love those kinds of challenges and this one starts with, finding again these river clowns!
Electric Peak captured by Z 9 / 180-400R
As fast as the truck could stop on the ice it did, we did … the sunrise as just … glorious!