Bosque del Apache is one of the best places in the US for Birds in Flight. There are always Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese in the air. A great place to practice. The new Sony RX10iv, with fast tracking auto focus, makes it almost easy 🙂 This shot of a Sandhill carving into a turn captures some of the wonder of birds in flight. 1/1000th @ ISO 100 @ f4. 600mm equivalent. Processed in Polarr.
This shot is really, of course, all about the light. Early morning with a family of Sandhill Cranes coming over, the light behind them, and the way the sun plays in the wing feathers. Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in Socorro New Mexico. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. Program mode. 1/1000th @ f5 @ ISO 100. Processed in Photoshop Express.
Sandhill Cranes mate for life, and you see some mating behavior all year long as the pair renews their bond. That also means the males can be confrontational in any season, including November on their wintering grounds. When observing flocks as large as those that gather in the fields of Bosque del Apache, it seems like there is a confrontation about every 90 seconds or so, somewhere in the flock. Some males are always more confrontational, so it is possible to observe the pattern and catch them in the act. I am tempted to say “if you are lucky”, but patience and persistence has more to do with it than luck. That and a camera that responds quickly enough to catch the action. This is middle shot in a sequence of maybe 15 shots that I started as soon as I saw the confrontation coming, and my Sony RX10iv, as I have set up, shoots 10 fps. They whole confrontation lasted about a second and a half. 🙂 Sony RX10iv in program mode with my settings for birds in flight (which work for intense action like this as well). 600mm equivalent at 1/1000th @ f5.6 @ ISO 100. Processed in Photoshop Express.
They call it the “golden hour” but at Bosque del Apache it lasts about 20 minutes…that brief interval from just before sunset to just after when, first the landscape is bathed in golden light, and then the sky. It is also the time when the Sandhill Cranes are moving to their night roosts in the shallow ponds and flooded fields of the Refuge. When you combine the light and the cranes in a single image it can be awesome…in the literal meaning of the word…it can fill us with awe. Yesterday both sun and cranes cooperated for this shot. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 1000. Processed in Photoshop Express. Processed in Photoshop Express.
Photographers and birders and the general public gather each day as the sun sets during the Festival of the Cranes at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge overlooking the areas where the Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes are likely to settle for the night. They are generally shallow ponds or flooded fields where the water helps to alert the birds to approaching predators in the dark. The cranes and geese might share the same pond or field, or you might get concentrations of either cranes or geese. In any case one the great sights of Bosque is the birds coming or going against the brilliant sunset sky after the sun actually sets. This shot is a mix of cranes and geese silhouetted against a band of cloud just above the horizon about 20 minuets after sunset. It is an in-camera HDR from the new Sony RX10iv with a nominal exposure of 1/500th @ ISO 100 @ f4. I was surprised that the Sony could handle HDR at the long end of the zoom…assembling three 600mm equivalent shots into this one image. Processed in Photoshop Express.
There are many Roadrunners active at Bosque del Apache this year. This happens to be one that I have photographed before. It hunts along the canal and in the brush almost out to the Boardwalk trail head on the South Loop, and is often visible from the road. It was the first of a dozen or more I saw on one mid-morning loop. I guess I was just tuned for Roadrunners that day. Sony RX10iv at 600mm equivalent. The bird was on the passenger side of the car, and I had to shoot out the open window…which meant I had to use the LCD and hold the camera up far enough to get over the bottom window sill. It was very awkward and I am surprised I got an image this sharp. It is all down to the image stabilization on the RX10. 1/640th @ ISO 100 @ f4. Processed in Polarr.
It does not matter how many times you see a panic of Snow Geese, it always sends chills up your back and overwhelms your senses. The motion, the noise of wings and calls, the swirl of it, the thunder, stirs something in us that reaches back behind our rational being, and makes children of us all. You feel like clapping and laughing and crying and jumping up and down. Honest. the picture does not convey the half of it…the quarter of it. Of course, if you are going to try to catch it with a camera you have to resist the urge to jump up and down…even to laugh. And the sound of your shutter has to do for clapping. 🙂 Sony RX10iv in my custom flight mode. 1/1000th @ f5 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr.
We have only been at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge for two days, two loops around Wildlife Drive, and I already have the photos I came for. 🙂 Of course I will take a lot more, and hopefully better what I already have. That is the way photographers are.
This is a dream shot. Full on close up of a Sandhill Crane in flight at 600mm equivalent…with late afternoon light picking out all the detail. Sony Rx10iv at 600mm. Program mode with Birds in Flight modifications. 1/1000th @ f4 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr.
We got to Socorro in time yesterday for one loop of the Wildlife Drive at Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge. There looked to be a few thousand Snow Geese in and maybe a thousand Sandhill Cranes. Hopefully the big mass of birds are still on their way. Last year they arrived mid-week. I am learning to use my new Sony Rx10iv, which recently replaced my Rx10iii. One of the reasons for upgrading was the improved focus modes on the iv, including a effective follow focus. I have a whole sequence of this bird, from a ways out, as it came in for a landing. It is pretty impressive that the camera can track focus on a single bird against the confusing background of the geese on the water. I am going to have a lot of fun with the camera and the birds over the next week. 🙂 Sony Rx10iv in my special Birds in Flight mode. (Flexible Spot Lock on Focus, Continuous focus, 10 fps, -.3 EV, Center metering.)
While Emily and Carol hiked a mountain at Roxbrough Park south-west of Denver, I walked two and half miles up nearby Waterton Canyon in search of Big Horned Sheep near enough to the road for photography. I saw rams and a few ewes on the cliff side at the one mile mark, and heard enough rumors of more further on to encourage me to walk beyond the two mile mark to see another group of rams camped out on the cliffs for the day. A friend had been there a few weeks ago when the rams were down by the river doing their head butting dominance displays, and I was, to be honest, looking for something like that. Perhaps I was too late in the day. Still, on the walk back to car I came up on a group of dozen ewes and lambs taking up the whole width of the road and not in any hurry to make way for human traffic. Eventually I gingerly worked my way along the river side of the road past them. I got some nice close-ups along the way. This lamb, was curious but very secure even with me this close. Sony Rx10iv at 443mm equivalent. 1/1000 @ f5 @ ISO 100. Processed in Polarr.