This was another blog-worthy trip. We’ve just returned from a very long and circuitous trip that had us going from Austin to Bosque del Apache in New Mexico, to White Sands, NM, to Carlsbad Caverns, to spend New Years Eve in Eve’s Garden in Marathon, TX, then back home.
For years, I’ve wanted to shoot the Sandhill Cranes at Bosque del Apache in New Mexico. We decided on a really grand tour that would start at the sanctuary (spending the night in Brownfield) for a late-afternoon / early evening shoot, go to Casa Blanca B&B for the night, and get up to be back photographing by 7am.
I was able to take many outstanding dusk shots of the cranes, augmented by the full moon that was in exactly the right place and right elevation to be captured with cranes flying under it. At one point, as we were changing positions, a fox trotted along a path parallel to the road. Quite spectacular.
In the morning, we arrived before the cranes had left their roost. It was very cold out: Jen remained in the car watching the scene unfold. I knew what was about to happen and hoped to be able to capture it. I set the focal distance, practiced panning, set the camera for 8 images per second, set up he remote plunger and waited.
I was looking through the lens at 400mm with the ISO set up to about 1,400 and the shutter set at 250th of a second.
I didn’t have long to wait.
Suddenly, one bird rose from the nesting flock and suddenly the entire flock lifted off. I caught it. I hit the plunger and started rolling and panning simultaneously.
I walked over to the driver’s side window once I had finished shooting. Jen was nearly speechless. OMG she kept saying. That was amazing. How did you know they’d all lift off at once? OMG! “When it was over, I looked at the woman in the car behind you (just to Jen’s left) and we both had our mouths open. That was one of the most spectacular events I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“Yes,” I agreed. “It is.”
We ended our trip by spending New Years Eve in Eve’s Garden in Marathon, TX. This had taken a lot of pre-planning, but it was really worth it. Take a look at these: