Archive for the 'action' Category


12/20/2010: Cranes and mountains

I find myself without a mammal for Monday, so it will have to be “mountains for Monday”…and we will throw in the Cranes for free! One of the wonders of Bosque del Apache is that the thousands of Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese are set against the backdrop of desert mountains on all sides. When the shadows get long in the afternoon, and the sun low to light the underside of the birds, it can be breath-taking. Photos do not do it justice. Still…

Canon SX20IS, 560mm equivalent, f5.7 @ 1/800th @ ISO 400. Sports mode.

Processed for intensity and clarity in Lightroom.


12/8/2010: Sandhills in Flight (Wings on Wednesday)

Okay, I know I said I was done with Sandhill Cranes last week…and I did break the series, but to be honest I have a lot more Sandhill pics from my trip to Bosque del Apache. And…since it is wings on Wednesday, and a I have little video to share, I could not resist. Forgive me. 🙂

The shot is not perfectly framed but I love the light on the wings! It was late afternoon in the last moments before the sun touched the horizon.

Canon SX20IS at 560mm equivalent. F5.7 @ 1/640th @ ISO 640. Sports mode.

Processed in Lightroom for intensity and clarity.

And now the video. Also SX20IS work.

Sandhill Cranes in Flight: Bosque del Apache NWR, November 2010

12/6/2010: Prairie Dogs (Mammals on Monday)

In what has to be one of the oddest instances, Bosque del Apache spent some Our Recovery Dollars at Work building a Prairie Dog town…or maybe the PDs moved in by themselves, but Bosque certainly added some improvements and built a nice little access point and parking lot for visitors.

I have to admit, if you know nothing about PDs, they are cute. Sort of the North American equivalent of Meerkats, only without the movie and the TV show. (They just need an agent!)

The last photo here is the first taken, on a morning visit to the town…but as you can see, the morning light comes in from behind, making photography somewhat difficult. I went back in the afternoon for the shots above, but by afternoon most days the wind is well up, and it fairly sings through the tripod legs. I had to stand between the wind and my rig, to keep the scope from blowing over.

Canon SD4000IS behind the new 15-56x Vario eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL. All were out there in the 2500 to 3000mm equivalent range. The top two are are at 1/1000th at ISO 250, and the bottom one is at 1/640 at ISO 125. I think I had the camera set to Kids and Pets for the top two, which explains the higher shutter speed and ISO.

Processed for intensity in Lightroom. Actually, the last shot required more substantial processing, with a mix of heavy Recovery and Fill Light.

And here is a little video. This was so bouncy and shaky with the wind that I have to pull out the heavy guns here too, and use Vegas Studio to stabilize the video before it was watchable. You can still see a lot of wind shake. The sound track, which I have muted, was nothing but a steady wind roar.

Prairie Dog Town

12/5/2010: Bosque Sunrise!

Happy Sunday!

It is absolutely essential, on every trip to the Festival of the Cranes at  Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in New Mexico, to get out at least one morning for the dawn fly-out. For one thing November dawns under the mountains along the Rio Grande in New Mexico are spectacular, and for another, the spectacle of the geese rising in streams and leaving the ponds where they spend the night can be breath-taking, awe inspiring, thrilling. It makes the alarm clock and being out before breakfast worth it. It makes  numb fingers and icy feet worth it. It makes, dare I say, life worth it.

It can be, for many people, a true life-changing experience…and opening of the eyes to unsuspected beauty and unexpected possibility…which fundamentally changes the way we see the world.

You can spot the first-timers by the light in their eyes, by the grins, by the voluble and visible delight as they troop back to cars and heaters and cooling coffee. But at least half the crowd (and we are talking several hundred, sometimes 500 or more,  people gathered each dawn during the festival) are returnees…people who by their manner have seen this all before, and have come back one more time to feed something in their souls that responds in the Bosque dawn. Many of these folks, like me, have been coming to Bosque in November for 20 years or more, and still we are out at least one morning before sunup to catch the fly-out and the dawn. It is essential to our souls.

Church should only be so good!

Canon SX20IS at 560mm equivalent, f5.7 @ 1/640 @ ISO 160.

Processed in Lightroom.

And here is the video.

Bosque Dawn

12/2/2010: Sandhills 3, Snow Goose confetti

Not a perfect shot, but I love the light in this one, and the big Sandhill Cranes against the confetti of Snow Geese. Of course, you don’t get the full effect without the sound of the geese and cranes, but…

I have at least one more Sandhill post in store, but there are way more Sandhill Crane pics in my Bosque gallery on Wide Eyed In Wonder than I can share here. If you enjoy Sandhills as much as I do, you might want to take a look at the gallery.

Canon SX20IS at 560mm equivalent. F8 @ 1/1000th @ ISO 400. Sports program.

Processed for intensity in Lighroom.


12/1/2010: Wings for Wednesday, Sandhills2

The first of December already! Advent. And a few shots for Wings on Wednesday. Sandhill cranes again, coming in to land with wings on full display. Note the landing flaps up on the last shot.

Canon SX20IS at full zoom (560mm equivalent) and exposures in the 1/1250th and  f8, ISO 200  range using Sports Mode.

Processed for intensity in Lightroom (see page link above).


11/30/2010: Sanhills 1

Part of the attraction of Bosque del Apache NWR is the spectacle factor…14,000-20,000 Sandhill Cranes as they mass around the refuge, early and late, are simply impressive. They are big, noisy birds. When you see several thousand of them in field below the mountians in the clear warm light of New Mexico’s autumn, it is, well, worth seeing. Unfortunately, even video does not quite capture that aspect of Bosque. Photographs and video are good enough to make you, maybe, want to visit Bosque…but they will not prepare you for the experience of being there! Which is a good thing.

Canon SX20IS at 1) 140mm equivalent @ f4.5 @ 1/800th @ ISO 80, Landscape program and 2) 560mm equivalent @ f5.7 @ 1/640 @ ISO 100. Landscape program.

Processed in Lightroom for intensity (see the page link above).

And a bit of video.

Sanhill Cranes at Bosque del Apache

11/29/2010: wings of chance?

Okay, so no, I don’t in fact believe in chance…or luck…but I do believe in being at the right place at the right time and doing the right thing…even when you don’t know what any of those are. I believe that we are blessed beyond our deserts…and nothing convinces me more than wildlife photography.

And, of course, before any of you get started, if I had a real camera and a real lens (full frame DSLR and a 600mm or APS DSLR and a 400mm) this would, indeed, have been a better image…but you work with what you have. Besides, I am pretty sure I could not shoot off-hand with either of those rigs anyway. The Canon SX20IS cranked out is a 560mm, f5.7 equivalent, and set on sports mode for the fastest shutter speeds it is very easy…and very quick on target. I only wish it had a more rapid burst (motor) mode. One frame per second is pretty slow for flying birds.

This shot is actually more intentional than it looks. I was panning with the geese when the crane entered the frame, flying at about twice the speed of the geese. I barely had the presence of mind to click the shutter and pray.

Imagine my delight when I reviewed the shot a few seconds later!

Sometimes you do get more than you deserve indeed.

Canon SX20IS as above, f8.0 @ 1/1250th @ ISO 320. Sports mode.

Processed lightly for intensity in Lightroom.

And a couple more on the same theme: 

And, no, I insist, chance has nothing to do with it!


11/24/2010: Snow on the wing

For Wings on Wednesday. This looks better the larger you look at it (to a point!) so please click the image and use the size controls at the top of the window that opens as needed.

I will admit that this is a chance shot. I just pointed the digiscoping rig into the mass of swirling birds and held the shutter down at 4 frames per second for about 5 seconds. This is the only one I kept…because the foreground birds are more or less in focus against the back drop of fuzzy geese. I could not have planned this if I had tried.

It is, admittedly, a challenging image to look at…but I like that about it. Give your eye a moment to make sense of it.

Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56x Vario eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL. “Kids and Pets” mode.

Processed for intensity and sharpened in Lightroom. (see new Lightroom Processing page)


11/20/2010: Golden-fronted Acrobat

Not so great light this early morning at Estero Llano Grande State Park and World Birding Center in Weslaco Texas, but who could resist trying for this acrobatic Golden-fronted Woodpecker. Part of the WBC is an old trailer park, which was purchased because its tropical trees and plantings, including a smattering of citrus, attracts species not regular on the more arid sections of the State Park. I am not sure what this woodpecker was doing with the grapefruit but it makes for an interesting image.

Digiscoped with the Canon SD4000IS behind the 15-56x Vario eyepiece on the ZEISS DiaScope 65FL spotting scope for an equivalent focal length (field of view) of a 1300mm lens, f4.5 @ 1/50th @ ISO 200. Programmed auto.

Processed for intensity in Lightroom (Fill Light, Blackpoint, Clarity, and Sharpen).