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20 • NOVEMBER 2017

Clockwise from top left: [1] Your longest lens captures detail from far away. [2] Set your focus for a middle view and see what happens! [3] Shooting with the sun behind you illuminates the subject and can create unusual effects. [4] Your beautiful bird will show off better if the background is blurred.


Craning for the Best Image Photo tips for Festival of the Cranes and Bosque del Apache


h, wow—look at that! When sandhill cranes and Canadian snow geese fly in and out at sunset and sunrise in November at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, they create stunning images. Would you like to capture these images? Then follow these easy tips from pro wildlife photographer Bruce Meyers. I borrowed a camera, tried his tips and learned a lot. Festival of the Cranes celebrates these magnificent birds during its 13th anniversary Nov. 14 to 19, with seminars and workshops on birding and photography, as well as family events, guided walking trips and much more. If you can’t attend Festival of the Cranes, no worries; the birds will display for you any day in November! Let’s go shooting!

Sunsets, Sunrises Sunset “fly ins” and sunrise “fly outs” are the most sought-after times for crane and geese activity. Bruce advises, “Use the fastest ASA/ISO (film speed) possible. Set the camera from one half to 3 F-stops (aperture opening) lower so that when the camera takes its automatic reading, it records the scene as ‘dimmer.’ Colors come through, and the camera doesn’t try to ‘fix it’ to look like daylight.”

Light from Behind Early morning and evening provide the richest light. “Position yourself so that the light is behind you.”

Birds in Flight Birds in flight, whether in a flock or single, provide striking movement effects. For dramatic images, “use the fastest ASA/ISO possible, combined with a fast shutter speed based on conditions.”  To keep the bird(s) in focus and create a sense of motion, blur the background.   “Pan with the moving bird(s) while maintaining focus on one bird.”

geese appear gold.

Gear Basics

Birds and photographers are separated by at least 50 feet, so bring your longest lens and fastest memory cards to capture details and movement. [zoom, zoom 1] I borrowed a Canon Digital Single Lens Reflex (DSLR) with a 100-400 zoom and a 17 – 85 zoom. To prevent “camera shake,” many photographers use a tripod or monopod.  Bruce prefers a moThink Like a Bird nopod “because I can pick it up “Study the birds, their behavior and move the camera faster than and territory.   Once you have a if I used a tripod.” However, “a tripod is perfect good idea of their flight path, position yourself.  Stand slightly to for longer exposures of a subject one side of the path with the sun not moving.”  He adds, “A monopod may tend to tilt, especially if behind you.” you’re imaging something excitBird Portraits ing!” Don’t have a DSLR with lenses When an individual bird poses for you, assure its face, feathers as long as your arm?   No worand position create an “attitude.”   ries!   “Owning an expensive, “Use a faster shutter speed with elaborate camera system doesn’t larger aperture (lower number make you a good photographer; F-stop) to blur the background it merely makes you the owner of and focus attention on the sub- an elaborate, expensive camera system!” says Bruce with a laugh. ject.” Even a “snappy cam” (known Get Creative! as a Point and Shoot) or phone Experiment for unusual effects camera can take good pictures. such as these ducks at dark. [flash Simply remember composition, flock] Normally, a flash would lighting and exposure and try for be useless, but, “if the birds are angles and effects.   Read your owner’s manual and practice with close enough, try it!” Ponds and slow streams pro- your camera as much as possible. Happy shooting! vide water for wildlife. Use water Next month: It’s Audubon for mirror images. By limiting focus to the mid- Christmas Bird Count time! dle of the scene and blurring the foreground and background, I Novice birder Yvonne Lanelli ( is captured this unusual image.   With overcast sky directly never without her camera on above but with sunrise shining birding adventures. brightly on the horizon, these

[6] Sunsets during the Fly In create colorful effects. (Images by Yvonne Lanelli)

TO FRAME CRANES YOURSELF Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Reserve ( is two hours north of Las Cruces off Interstate 25. Take Exit 124 (San Marcial), go east on the dirt road 1.5 miles, then north on Old Highway 1 to the visitor center. Bosque is open year-round, however the Visitor Center closes Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s Day and July 4.  There is a $5 vehicle fee for the self-guided auto tour but all federal passes are honored. Festival of the Cranes: www.friendsofthebosque. org/festival-of-the-cranes.aspx.

Desert Exposure - November 2017  
Desert Exposure - November 2017