photography from the ground up

More Flying On The Ground

I made my annual “pilgrimage” to Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge last weekend. I came home with well over fifteen hundred images to work through. I’m not finished, but I do have some “keepers” from the first batch of processing.


The first image was captured early on Saturday morning at the North Chupadera Pond along Highway 1. I was looking for a full wing shot, but was having trouble catching one.



I have a pattern that I follow while at The Bosque in order to optimize my interaction with the birds. After the cranes have all flown off from the ponds where they spend the night, I drive the entire loop looking for whatever might be there. I can usually find a Great Blue Heron along the edge of one of the channels that run through the refuge, and this year was no exception. This one seemed to be dozing off and on while waiting for his breakfast to appear.


There was certainly no shortage of take-off images. The cranes signal their intention to get airborne by leaning forward and stretching their necks as if they are testing the wind (perhaps they are). If you are a photographer waiting for some action, this should be a heads up that things are about to get interesting.


I captured both of these images as the cranes were running to reach the speed they need to take off. The movement in these images is horizontal and normally calls for a landscape orientation, but when I took the second photo, I was looking for something specific which would be better served by a portrait orientation.


My patience was rewarded when this lone crane spread his wings. The reflection was a bonus.


30 responses

  1. Beautiful images of some beautiful birds Jim. I envy you your pilgrimage.


    December 5, 2012 at 10:41 am

  2. Beautiful photos.


    December 5, 2012 at 11:53 am

  3. Wow, wonderful photos. I love the eyes.


    December 5, 2012 at 12:00 pm

  4. Super Jim.I was there 15 years ago ,when my daughter was living there no far away.Very beautiful birds


    December 5, 2012 at 1:18 pm

    • Thank you. They are beautiful birds. I’m totally hooked on watching and photographing them.


      December 6, 2012 at 9:07 am

  5. Absolutely breathtaking! What camera do you use?


    December 5, 2012 at 3:12 pm

  6. John P. Meyer

    Wow, that last shot is extraordinary, Jim.


    December 5, 2012 at 5:40 pm

  7. Your patience was definitely rewarded, Jim! Excellent shots!


    December 5, 2012 at 5:55 pm

  8. Fantastic and stunning!


    December 6, 2012 at 5:16 am

  9. Reblogged this on delia1979.


    December 6, 2012 at 2:50 pm

  10. Really lovely photos. My fav has to be the bended neck as they are about to take off. All are lovely though and the light is fantastic.


    December 10, 2012 at 11:15 pm

  11. patriciasia

    wow! Beautiful shots!


    December 11, 2012 at 9:28 am

  12. your images are always so beautiful 🙂


    December 13, 2012 at 6:53 am

  13. Absolutely stunning pics.


    December 13, 2012 at 7:46 am

  14. All are absolutely beautiful.


    December 14, 2012 at 11:40 am

  15. smackedpentax

    Exceptional images Jim!


    December 14, 2012 at 12:50 pm

  16. Stunning images!


    December 14, 2012 at 3:05 pm

  17. Gorgeous!


    January 7, 2013 at 10:21 am

  18. These are incredible photos, Jim. I am struck by the clarity in every one and the poses and light too, but my favorite is the penultimate one. It is a movement that is often seen by those of us who revere cranes, but rarely captured.


    March 26, 2014 at 7:02 am

    • Thanks Jet. I have been studying cranes for some time and I have gotten pretty good at predicting their movements and behavior which is of utmost importance when trying to capture images of them. They are truly awe inspiring.


      March 26, 2014 at 8:30 am

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