The Ageless Cycle Continues

Snow Geese capture by D3x / 600f4AFS

With fall comes change signaled by many things and celebrated by critters. Their preparation for winter takes many shapes, forms, and actions, and none like migration. Snow Geese nest in the far north and come south in wave after wave spending the winter in our warmer south. They take many paths heading south laying over in many regions through North America. They are more than likely in your own backyard!

There are many ways you can celebrate this, with every lens and time of day the perfect option for your visual storytelling. For this morning one December, I choose predawn color reflected off the pool to celebrate the well-earned rest of the flock. Is there a “trick” here, yes! Get out and experience, that’s it, that’s the trick to be part of as the agless cycle continues.

The Snap has Snapped

Miranda Aspens, NM captured by Z 6II / Z24-70f2.8

I was taught long ago that great fall color comes from a wet spring and a sudden cold snap in the fall. While we didn’t have a real wet spring, the temp was 28 this morning and that has set the clocking ticking. Fall color has begun here in the Bitterroots so it’s time to head out and get me some!
I have two approaches I like to start with when photographing fall color, long and short. I like shooting with the Z70-200f2.8 & Z24-70f2.8 from “outside” the color looking in. I look for a green background for the fall color which makes it pop. I underexpose to saturate the color. And I use a polarizer, rotating it so the majority of the leaves have the blue reflection from the sky removed.
Then I love to move right into a grove of fall color with the Z14-24 and simply lookup. I prefer says when there are whispy clouds and look for a pattern in them to place the fall color against. Well, nough said, time to grab the camera and head out, the clock is ticking, the snap has snapped!

“Can’t See Me!”

Bison captured by Z6II / 180-400VR

On the Philmont Scout Ranch, they have preserved an iconic part of our wild heritage, the New Mexico Bison. On 5000 acres a 140 head herd roam as they did for hundreds of years. What is unique, they don’t have to deal with us! That’s to say, you will never experience a “Buffalo Jam” as you might at other parks because this herd cannot be accessed by the public. In fact, they so rarely see people that we weren’t sure how they would react to our being on the plains with them. That fact made the morning so special!
This lone spectacular bull watched as we pulled up in the trucks. As I looked over the hood through the 180-00VR, it appeared to me as if he was trying to hide behind that one thistle blossom. It was a very special morning to spend with Bison, letting them go about their day and approaching us as close as THEY felt and our being able to let that unfold. Our wild heritage, it’s bloody amazing!

Where’s the Light?!

Philmont Training Center captured by Z6II / Z24-70f2.8

04:45 as I headed to the truck, I can see the moon play hide and seek in the clouds. That’s exactly the clouds I wanted for sunrise. Once on the knoll, the faint glow on the horizon told me the sun was coming, but now the clouds had slid east past the horizon. Would we see the light?

To bring The Ranch to you, I shot a five vertical image pano, handheld and assembled quickly in ACR. The scene I shot though was much different. What you see is my response to the view and not actually the view. I want you to fall into this vast and beautiful place. The overcast which prevented the sun from bringing a glow never shinned. So I brought the light into the scene in post. If I hadn’t told you, I don’t think you would have known. I just want you to feel the warmth and not wonder, where’s the light.

Sheba Moment

Sheba captured by Z 6II / Z14-24f2.8

From a mile away we saw that “white spot” on the black sands of the Oregon Beach. We knew instantly it was a Great Pyrenees which we have a huge soft spot for so we headed over. On the way, I had to make a click as they seemed very much alone. By the time we had walked up to Sheba, we could see she is old and we go on to learn she’s 13, really old for a Pyrenees. Its owner said we could greet Sheba and she felt old as well. We found out she’s on her last days and her owner wanted the last few to be the best possible. It seemed Sheba loves the beach, this quiet section so it’s where she’s spending her last moments. We took in Sheba’s view, made a couple of clicks and then said goodbye. I like Sheba’s beach!

Does a Dozen Mean Success?

Least Sandpiper captured by Z 6II / 800f5.6 w/1.25

We went total hardcore, spending the morning at the city water treatment plant which always garnishes shorebirds just not the best backgrounds. Not this time, not a single shorebird, literally none. So I went to my fallback plan, breakie! Afterward we went back to a location we had checked days before, not for birds but to see if the light was working for this one tree photograph. While we were there, Sharon found our first band of shorebirds, a dozen sandpipers. It was great to see them! We had about an hour with them before the rising tide made their little beach disappear. We’ll be back at it today, hoping to find a bunch more cause a dozen doesn’t mean success.

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