From the Photographer: Karl Fiegenschuh
I took this photo at Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Reserve near Socorro, New Mexico. Bosque is one of my favorite places to photograph birds. Not only are the snow geese seen here, but also sandhill cranes, roadrunners, Gambel’s quail, songbirds, waterfowl, raptors, and mammals such as coyote and javelina. I’ve made the trip to Bosque four or five times in the last 15 years and every time it is a little bit different. The US Fish and Wildlife Service manage the refuge by flooding or draining ponds, and by contracting farmers to grow, then harvest corn at various times during the migration season. Sometimes you get lucky and the freshly mowed cornfields are close to the road. Thousands of snow geese and sandhill cranes land to feed, as seen in this image. Then if a predator or a farmer’s tractor comes near, the birds can take off in spectacular “blast offs.”
I find the trip to Bosque to be an inexpensive photo trip. Flights to Albuquerque are inexpensive; rental cars are cheap, as are the hotels in Socorro. Then the only challenges are the dozens of photographers, with the thousands of dollars worth of the longest lenses you will ever see, vying for the best photo locations. Fortunately, there are miles of roads on which to set up. To complete the photo vacation, nearby are the three Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument sites where there are ruins of 17th Century Franciscan Monasteries and the dwellings of the Pueblo people (particularly spectacular in the snow). If you aren’t interested in old ruins you can visit the Very Large Array (VLA), a radio astronomy observatory with its 27 antenna dishes which has been featured in the movies: Contact, Terminator Salvation, and Grand Theft Auto. White Sands is also only 150 miles away and well worth a trip there. Enough of a travelogue…. The Salon Judge for this image was right: I spent over two hours at this location on this particular day. I took around 200 images and did get some “keepers.” This particular image was the middle one in a burst of three. I chose it for the optimum position of the prominent goose.
Technical data : Canon DSLR with a Canon 500mm f/4 IS lens, Gitzo tripod with a gimbal head. 1/250 sec. at f/16, ISO 250 with matrix metering and zone autofocus. I did some minor corrections in Lightroom and didn’t crop.