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White Sands 2012 – Yucca At Sunrise
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On our final day of this tour we arose early about 1 1/2 hour BEFORE sunrise and headed the 10 or so miles South of Alamogordo back down to White Sands. The Park actually opens at 7:00am so plan your trip accordingly. The sun was breaking over the horizon as the Park ranger was opening the gate. I would strongly suggest that you know where you are going to shoot sunrise the day before or by the time you figure out your composition it will be too late. We already knew where we were going so we drove straight to our spot and began to setup and shoot. My mind was thinking through all the settings and process as I drove down the park road to our destination. We captured all of our sunrise shots as quickly as possible and then sought out after other compositions. Around mid-day we headed back to Alamogordo for lunch and then headed out to return back to Texas.

We absolutely loved both Bosque Del Apache and White Sands New Mexico and hope to return soon. We are contemplating at Workshop here so stay tuned for more information.

Robert Shreve

See more of Bosque Del Apache Here and More of White Sands Here

© Copyright Robert Shreve Photography

www.robertshrevephotography.com

 

Bosque Del Apache 2012 - Sandhill Cranes In Flight

Bosque Del Apache 2012 – Sandhill Cranes In Flight
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We spent one last morning at Bosque Del Apache to capture yet another fly out. The Snow Geese were very thick this morning. As soon as the fly out had concluded we packed up our gear and began our journey to White Sands new Mexico. I have always wanted to go to White Sands as I have driven by several times when I was younger but we didn’t stop because our destination was elsewhere, most likely Ski Apache up by Ruidoso.

White Sands has a very nice visitor center and gift shop. Make sure you spend some time there as there is alot to see and learn. We arrived later in the evening so we took our time to make our way around and explore to find possible shooting locations. As you drive in to the park the sand is covered but heavy vegetation. Don’t worry, just keep on driving and the further you go it will turn into pure white dunes and the road will also seem to disappear into pure white. It is a beautiful place to see. We figured out where the sun would be setting and began to search for compositions of sand dunes or sand and cacti that would make for great shots. You must keep in mind not to walk into your shot. In other words be cautious as your footsteps will leave trails in the sand that will make it impossible to shoot where you have walked. (Unless you want to clone out your footsteps with Photoshop). My suggestion is to take your time and look carefully for interesting compositions and don’t walk where you think you might be shooting until you figure out what you are going to do. There are endless compositions in White Sands Park. We setup our gear and began shooting close to sunset. When photographing white sand you need to use 1/2 to 1 stop exposure compensation to make the sand white. Otherwise due to your cameras metering system the sabd will be 18% grey. Just kick up the exposure compensation  a notch and you should be good to go.

 

White Sands 2012 – Lone Yucca
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After sunset we drove out of the park in the dark which is easy to do as it isn’t a complicated route through the park. I still suggest picking up a park map at the Visitors Center. We dove back to Alamogordo where we stayed for this part of the trip. Click Here for Day 5 at Bosque Del Apache

 

See more of Bosque Del Apache Here and More of White Sands Here

© Copyright Robert Shreve Photography

www.robertshrevephotography.com

On Our third day we again rose early to make it out to the fly out before/at sunrise. Again it is important to get there very early. It was really cold so we had to add extra layers for the morning shooting. It’s important to bring gloves that will help with the cold but still allow you to operate your camera. The flyout on this day was nat as spectacular as the day before. After the fly out we again made several trips around the North and South loops to capture more images. The Sandhill Cranes were plentiful on the East side of the North Loop and to the North. There are plenty of grain fields for them to go to feed.

 

Bosque Del Apache 2012 - In Flight Sandhill Crane

Bosque Del Apache 2012 – In Flight Sandhill Crane
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Bosque Del Apache 2012 - Bernardo Snow Geese

Bosque Del Apache 2012 – Bernardo Snow Geese

Around noon we made our way to Socorro to grab a to go sandwich and we headed up Interstate 25 to Bernardo, NM. At Bernardo there is another area called Bernardo Wildlife Management and there are many more grain fields in this area. There are alo elevated blinds that you can walk up the stairs and setup your tripod and shoot for hours! It is a terrific setup and allows you to get a really good view of all the birds. From this location we primarily saw various blackbirds as well as thousands of Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese. The geese would fly around in massive groups from time to time which would creat massive confusion amongst all the wildlife. It was fun just to watch them. Be prepared at this location as you will shoot hundreds of images as it becomes quite addicting. We shot here till about 4:00pm and then headed back to Bosque Del Apache to again catch the evening fly in.

Bosque Del Apache 2012 - Sandhill Crane Landing

Bosque Del Apache 2012 – Sandhill Crane Landing
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The evening fly in was spectacular as usual. I think next trip i will pack some mud boots as the edge of the lake is muddy and it helps to get out past the trees. So therefore, it will help to have on mudboots so I won’t ruin my good hiking boots. Click Here for Day 4 at Bosque Del Apache

See more of Bosque Del Apache Here and More of White Sands Here

© Copyright Robert Shreve Photography

www.robertshrevephotography.com

Bosque Del Apache Fly Out December 2012

Bosque Del Apache Fly Out December 2012
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It’s important to be at the Bosque Del Apache Wildlife Refuge very early in the morning before sunrise. At sunrise is when the magic happens as all the birds fly out to feed when the sun breaks over the horizon and the event last just a few short minutes. So, we departed our hotel about an hour and fifteen minutes BEFORE sunrise to allow ourselves time to get a snack and/or coffee and travel time to the park. Upon arriving there were very few people on the North Route next to the lake. The important thing is to be as quiet as possible not to disturb the birds and stake out the best location wherever the birds are that morning. Don’t forget to check out the small lake on Highway 1 on your way in as at that location the sun will be behind you therefore the birds will be lite up by the sunrise. At Bosque’s main lake location the birds will be in silhouette as the sun will be rising behind them, which can make for a beautiful shot. We arrive at the main lake and begin to setup our gear. In my opinion, it is very important to utilize a long lens, minimal 200mm (400mm or better would be ideal), auto focus focus tracking,  a gimbal head to mount your camera or lens to allow you to track the birds better without fighting the weight of the camera and lens. Wait patiently and be prepared as when the birds begin to lift off it happens very fast and there is no warning, it just happens.If you are waiting in the car because of the cold or eating a snack, you will not have time to get to your camera and get the shot. It’s all over quickly! Be sure to have your camera settings ready as it will be dark so you will need a high ISO, high shutter speed 1000 or greater for the fly out and depending on your required depth of field, close down your aperture as necessary.

We then proceeded to pack up our gear as to drive around the refuge to explore. As you make the loops be sure to look out for Bald Eagles along higher trees. The north loop and South loops are partially one way so you are committed to make the loop once on the one way portions. There is so much to see. Many of the cranes will fly from the lake to the fields within the refuge area to feed. Although difficult to get and up close shot, just be patient and opportunities will come your way. Again be prepared with your camera settings to capture the moment. Birds in flight require a shutter speed of 1250 or higher to get the bird in sharp focus. If you want to add some blur for movement, just reduce your shutter speed till you get the result you desire. This is best accomplished in shutter priority but make sure your ISO is on auto or high enough for proper exposure. I typically shoot one stop down from wide open if the birds are 100 feet or greater away.Around noon we went back to Socorro for lunch and to rest.

Later in the afternoon we headed back out to Bosque Del Apache for late afternoon shooting and the evening fly in. The fly in begins about an hour before sunset with the bulk of the birds coming in withing the last 20 minutes or so. Again, in the evening the sun is behind you so the birds are well lite. In addition, the tall grasses behind the birds on the east side of the lake is gold with color in the late evening and creates a wonderful color harmony of the blue sky, gold grasses and the neutral colored birds. Keep shooting all the way to sundown and until dark.

Bosque Del Apache 2012 - Afternoon Fly In

Bosque Del Apache 2012 – Afternoon Fly In
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We then proceeded back to Socorro to our hotel and dinner as well as time to download images and get gear charged and ready for the next day. You will shoot alot of images, so be prepared with high capacity flash cards and full batteries as well as extra batteries. I also carry a 12 volt to 110 volt transformer in the car so I can charge batteries during the day on location. Click Here for Day 3 at Bosque Del Apache

See more of Bosque Del Apache Here and More of White Sands Here

© Copyright Robert Shreve Photography

www.robertshrevephotography.com

12/18/2012 – Friday Day 1

Traveling to Socorro New Mexico from Frisco Texas is really not that bad of a drive. It’s 660 miles and about 11.5 hours of driving time. Not much to see along the way unfortunately. We departed at 4:00am in order to arrive around 3:00pm to allow time to check in our hotel and head to Bosque Del Apache to get our bearings of the place and to allow time to setup and shoot the evening FlyIn. Socorro is a sleepy town whose location is very close to the VLA (Very Large Array) antenna’s that are used for deep space radio exploration. We didn’t have enough time to make it out to the array but will for sure on our next trip. Bosque Del Apache is just 9 miles south of Socorro on Interstate 25, Exit 139 and go East 1/4 mile US 380 to the flashing signal at the village of San Antonio, turn right on Highway 1 and drive South nine miles to the Visitor Center. (See Map Below)

The day we arrived in the afternoon Bosque Del Apache Map there were very few people there. We went to Visitors Center and talked to Park rangers and obtained maps as well as un update on the tyes of wildlife that was currently present in the park. Please note that Mountain Lions are present so if you have children you need to keep an eye on them. I am not aware of ANY attacks but just be aware and have a plan. There is a Bird Count posted on the entry booth upon entry to the loop.

Our Day of arrival the bird count was as follows:

Light Geese 38,500

Ducks 36,379

Sandhill Cranes 7,863,

Bald Eagles 4

I don’t know who does the counting but it must take them all day…LOL

As it got later in the day more and more people began to arrive and take their places along the North Loop road next to the lake. This was the prime location, that day, to photograph the Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese flying in to roost for the evening. I strongly suggest getting there early to stake out your position amongst the other photographers as there is a limited amount of room when it gets crowded. As it grew closer to dusk the birds of various species began to arrive. It was a great opportunity to photograph birds in flight as well as their peculiar behavior on the ground and their behavior to each other. The light was from the west and we were shooting the birds to the East so it was perfect. As our trek was in mid-December, it was cold so dress warm and bring gloves. The New Mexico cold can be brutal if not properly prepared.

As dusk fell to night we packed up our gear and headed out. We noticed another small lake of of  Highway 1 and realized it could possibly be a great place for a Sunset Shot as many birds had flown in to that lake as well. Please Click Here for Day 2 at Bosque Del Apache

Bosque Del Apache Map

Bosque Del Apache Map

 

 

See more of Bosque Del Apache Here and More of White Sands Here

© Copyright Robert Shreve Photography

www.robertshrevephotography.com