New Mexico

Bosque Del Apache (Video)

I brought my video camera along with me to Bosque Del Apache NWR in New Mexico.  The large birds you see are Sandhill Cranes and the smaller white birds are Snow Geese with some ducks and Canada Geese mixed in.  I thought I'd share the some of the sights and sounds of Bosque with you.  To view a larger version of this video visit my YouTube Channel.


Read More

Bosque Del Apache NWR

As many of you know, I spent this past Thanksgiving in Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) outside Socorro, New Mexico.  I'd planned this trip for over a year and although not your typical "vacation", it was worth the trip.  Most wouldn't consider getting up at 4am, setting up camera equipment in the dark and in sub-freezing temperatures a vacation.  Unless, of course, you're a bird photographer and you're in Bosque.  Bosque is located in the middle of nowhere - or just outside of nowhere - about 28 miles south of Socorro, New Mexico.  Socorro is a town along Interstate 25 an hour south of Albuquerque.  I decided to take the 12 hour drive in my own car so I could bring all my gear and take my time getting there. Thanksgiving week is known to be the height of the season for Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese as they winter here, supposedly in a warmer climate.  They numbered in the tens of thousands as they converged on the shallow pools and nearby farmlands.  It was an exercise in speed, hand-eye coordination, timing and reflexes in order to capture these birds in flight.  At times there were so many birds flying around, taking off and landing that one could easily become overwhelmed and miss many a photo-op.  The decision wasn't "what kind of shot am I going to get?" but "which one of the dozens of opportunities in front of me am I going to photograph?"  As hard as it was to concentrate in this environment, it was an absolute necessity in order to come away with keepers.  Sunrise and sunset were the most productive times of day, which is typical, especially for wildlife photography.  I found that I spent a lot of time working with silhouette images.  The shapes of these birds set against an orange sky or the shining waters surface grabbed my attention and my imagination.  You'll see what I mean when you visit my gallery.  With my creative juices flowing I also began experimenting with blurring and pull-focus techniques.  You'll see those too. Being that it was Thanksgiving week, I wondered if I would spend my Turkey Day by myself, eating a hot turkey sandwich at the Dennys in Socorro.  It didn't really bother me since I'd decided to spend my Thanksgiving week here over a year ago, but I must admit it was on my mind.  A surprise came as I made images near the Crane Pools just outside the refuge.  Legendary avian photographer Arthur Morris was leading a workshop at Bosque, as he does every year.  I'd taken a workshop of his earlier in 2009 at the NANPA (North American Nature Photography Association) conference in Albuquerque.  As I struck up a conversation with a couple of other photographers they told me they were part of Art's workshop.  Before I knew it I was talking with Art himself who soon invited me to his annual Thanksgiving dinner at a restaurant in Socorro!  How cool.  I not only had a place to enjoy my Thanksgiving feast but I was going to spend it with some of the finest nature photographers anywhere!  Opened just for Art's dinner, I enjoyed a wonderful meal with around twenty other nature photographers.  I ended up sitting at a table with some wonderful folks including Art and an equally talented photographer, new media pioneer and host of the "Photofocus" podcast Scott Bourne.  We had great food and great conversation with great company.  Thank you Art, Scott and the rest of the gang for giving me a Thanksgiving I'll never forget!  I think it's safe to say, you can be grateful for what you have no matter where you are. Long story short, my trip to Bosque Del Apache was a resounding success and I'll definitely be back.  Even if I did arrive with a cold and leave with pneumonia (ok, maybe just a worse cold).  The results of my week in Bosque can be viewed in my photo gallery HERE.  As time goes by a will likely delete some of the more similar images but for now, I'm happy with what I have.  After all, any of my fellow photographers out there will appreciate the fact that I was able to edit 6,500 images down to 167 and that only took five days!  I'll work on the HD video next, stay tuned for that. (Click on the image to view the entire gallery)
Read More

Bosque Del Apache Preview

As I slowly but surely sift my way through about 6,500 images from my week in Bosque Del Apache NWR in New Mexico, I thought I'd post a preview for you.  The image below was taken at sunrise along the main road to Bosque. On what had been a rather slow (and cold) morning, I found a group of about 1,000 Snow Geese hanging around right near the main entrance.  Most photographers and bird watchers viewed the flock from the east but  I chose to make my way around to the west side of the geese in order to photograph them taking off while backlit by the rising sun.  Within seconds of getting my camera ready - already preset to go at a moment's notice - a large group burst into the morning sky.  I was so taken by the moment I didn't even mind the car parked in the background! Stay tuned for more images from Bosque... © 2009 Craig M. Durling All Rights Reserved (EDITOR'S NOTE: Those specks you see in the background are not dust particles on the sensor, they're birds...hundreds of them!)
Read More

Very Large Array (VLA)

The Very Large Array (VLA) is one of the world's premier astronomical radio observatories. It lies 50 miles west of Socorro, NM and consists of 27 radio antennas in a Y-shaped configuration. Each antenna (resembling a satellite dish) measures 82 feet in diameter and weighs 230 tons.  The array antennas move on a system of railroad tracks and can be arranged in a variety of patterns depending on the mission. The VLA was completed in 1980 at a cost $78,578,000 (in 1972 dollars).  The VLA is used primarily by astronomers from around the world.  It's also occasionally used for atmospheric/weather studies, satellite tracking, and other miscellaneous science projects. For more information on the VLA, visit the National Radio Astronomy Observatory website.  For a look inside one of these antennas, visit the "Anatomy of an Antenna". Click on the image above to view the complete gallery and/or purchase prints. Information gathered from the NRAO website.
Read More