After I attended the NANPA Summit in Albuquerque, I led a 2 1/2 DAY IPT to one of my soul places, Bosque del Apache NWR in San Antonio, NM. As always, we stayed at the Socorro Super 8 in the north end of town and ate lunch and conducted our classroom sessions at K-Bob’s right next door-the fajitas are great. When you visit Bosque, be sure to patronize these two establishments; each hosted the NANPA High School Program; K-Bob’s provided complimentary meals and the Super 8 provided lodging for the students and the instructors at no charge.
When I scheduled this IPT I knew that there was a small chance that most of the geese and cranes would be gone. There are usually lots of geese and cranes present well into the last week of February but we ran into bad luck. There were few cranes at the refuge during the IPT and while there had been 20,000 geese blasting off on Saturday there were only a few thousand present at dawn on our first morning, Monday, February 23, and just a handful on the next morning. We switched to plan B, enjoyed some great duck photography both at local ponds and off the Flight Deck, got lucky with some point-blank Ross’s Geese, had fun with a cooperative Roadrunner, had some interesting sunrises and sunsets, concentrated on making soup from stones, and took advantage of every teach-able moment both in the field and in the classroom.
NANPA High School Scholarship student Liam Cofell-Dwyer joined the group as my guest and retired USAF Chief Judge Jim Heupel served as my much appreciated co-leader. Jim was a perfect fit as he is well versed in landscape photography; this came in handy often as at times there were simply no birds . Most of the group went home happy; multiple IPT veteran and good friend Lou Newman of Sarasota, FL said that it was the best IPT he had ever been on.
|Ross’s Goose Head Portrait, Bosque Del Apache, NWR, NM. Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-50D on the Mongoose M3.5 atop the Gitzo 3530LS CF tripod. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1 stop: 1/400 sec. at f/9. Fill flash at -2 stops with Better Beamer. In all of my years at Bosque I had never been anywhere near this close to a Ross’s Goose. Note the field marks: short, stubby bill with greenish warts at the base.|
|Liam and the Old Man. Image copyright 2009 and courtesy of Greg Ferguson. I pretty much use a lens hood only when it is raining or when I am photographing from a vehicle in a dusty environment. I am pictured here with the 800 f/5.6L IS.|
|American Coot at dawn, Bosque Del Apache, NWR, NM. Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-1D Mark III on the Mongoose M3.5 atop the Gitzo 3530LS CF tripod. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +2/3 stop: 1/160 sec. at f/22. Here, I used the central sensor along with AI Servo AF to focus in the center of the wake. I knew that conditions were bright enough to stop down a lot while still maintaining a shutter speed that would likely yield a sharp image. This decision and many others like it was, and need to be, made in one or two seconds in order to capture the image in your mind’s eye.|
|Greater Roadrunner on road (where else?), Bosque Del Apache, NWR, NM. Image Copyright 2009: Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART. Canon 800mm f/5.6L IS lens with the EOS-50D on the Mongoose M3.5 atop the Gitzo 3530LS CF tripod. ISO 400. Evaluative metering +1/3 stop: 1/400 sec. at f/11. This bird was tame when we encountered it on the IPT but always sat in a tree on the wrong side of the road (and the light). On the day after the IPT, both Jim and I were thrilled to find it sunning on the road in early morning light. The background was out-of-focus salt cedar. It was far enough away that I new I could use f/11 to render the bird sharper without bringing up unwanted background detail.|
More images tomorrow.