Early December saw me travelling to the USA for the second time in 2014. The primary purpose of the visit was photograph White Sands National Monument and Bosque del Apache. However, as has been the case on past visits we spent the first three days travelling along Route 66 between Albuquerque (New Mexico) and Holbrook (Arizona). The trip was organised by Roger Reynolds at Photoventures.net who has travelled to these locations on many previous occasions and knows the area very well. The route map as recorded on my trusty Garmin eTrex Vista GPS device is shown below.
The weather conditions varied quite a bit, which made some of the locations a lot more photogenic than was the case when I made a similar trip in late December 2010. This was especially the case when we visited the Petrified Forest National Park near Holbrook. It had been raining heavily just prior to our arrival.
Kachina Point, Painted Desert
Kachina Point, Painted Desert
After the Rain, The Tepees, Petrified Forest National Park
From Holbrook we travelled across to Bosque del Apache. Along the way we stopped to photograph the Very Large Array near Socorro. Again, it had been raining just prior to our arrival.
Truck in the Rain, Plains of San Augustin
Radio Telescope, Very Large Array, Plains of San Augustin
We spent four very productive days at Bosque del Apache. As always there were plenty of Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese, but two my favourite photographs from this part of the trip are shown below.
Red-tailed Hawk, Bosque del Apache
Sandhill Cranes and Moon, Bosque del Apache
More photographs from the trip can be seen the gallery.
All photos were taken on Canon EOS 5D MkIII or Canon EOS 7D MkII. Post processing was carried out in Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop CC 2014.
This is our last day in White Sands. So, like previous days we headed off to catch the early morning light before travelling back to Bosque del Apache for another couple of days bird photography.
The early morning light in White Sands was particularly good and the opportunities for making interesting images was further improved by the delicate cloud formations that developed during the morning.
Morning Light, White Sands National Monument, New Mexico
Our journey back to Bosque del Apache was along US Route 54, which took us past the site of the Three Rivers Petroglyphs.
The Three Rivers Petroglyphs site is one of the few locations set aside solely because of its rock art. It’s also one of the few sites were visitors have direct access to petroglyphs. With over 21,000 petroglyphs the site at Three Rivers is one of the largest and most interesting rock art sites in the Southwest.
Rock Art, Three Rivers Petroglyph Site, New Mexico
We arrived back at Socorro mid afternoon, but rather than check into our motel we decided to finish the afternoon off with some bird photography at Bosque del Apache. The following are just two of the many hundreds taken before sunset. Hopefully, I’ll capture a lot more in the remaining two days of my trip to the US.
We’ve been in Socorro three days now and the photography at Bosque del Apache is excellent.
Bosque del Apache, which means “woods of the Apache” in Spanish was originally named for the people who often camped in the riverside forest. Today, it is more widely known as one of the most spectacular Refuges in North America. The refuge straddles the Rio Grande Valley in Socorro County, New Mexico, and covers some 57,000 acres. Here, tens of thousands of birdsincluding sandhill cranes, snow geese, and many kinds of ducks -gather each autumn and stay through the winter. Snow geese erupt in explosions of wings when frightened by a stalking coyote. At dawn and dusk, flight after flight of geese and cranes can be seen flying between specially prepared corn fields and their roosting areas in the marshes.
The following images are just a small selection of the many species of birds that I’ve managed to photograph over the past three days.
Snow Goose Preparing for Take-off
Sandhill Cranes at Take-off
Snow Geese in Flight at Sunrise
Sandhill Crane in Flight
Red-tailed Hawk in Flight
Great Blue Heron
Snow Goose in Flight
Equipment used included: Canon EOS 7D and 5D Mark II with Canon 100-400mm f4.5/5.6 L IS Zoom lens and Canon 400mm f5.6 L telephoto lens. All images were shot in raw mode and processed in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom 3. Lightroom 3’s new noise reduction algorithms were particularly helpful in dealing with the luminance noise present in images shot at high ISO values (i.e. 800 and higher). Where necessary image retouching Adobe Photoshop CS5.