Any tips for Bosque del Apache next month -- November??

Discussion in 'Nature' started by photo_galleries, Oct 27, 2017.

  1. Thinking about going for the first time - we plan to arrive around noon on the 18th and spend 2-3 days before heading to Albuquerque and Santa Fe to do whatever tourists do.

    I know that this year is from the 14th to the 19th, so we'll catch the last couple of days. But other than planned events and workshops, are there other advantages to going during the festival?

    Any lodging recommendations? Also, I have restricted mobility and will likely use my walker/rollator to get walk around; given that, is there anything that I need to know?

  2. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    I have been to Bosque del Apache once, after Thanksgiving in 1999. I stayed at some inexpensive motel at Socorro and drove in every day.

    It was freezing every morning around 6, 7am and you may need gloves. By 10am or so it gets quite warm and you'll probably need no more than a shirt. Back then I lived in New Jersey so that I was quite used to a colder climate. In other words, dress in layers.

    As far as photography at Bosque goes, there is plenty of info on the web, probably a lot more up to date than what I know.
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2017
  3. Thanks Shun - I've got a good handle on the photography tips. I'll have two bodies with me: a D500 with my 200-500mm on a tripod and my D800e and a WA lens within easy reach. I have read up on photography tips online as well.

    We are planning to stay somewhere in Socorro for a couple of nights. Living in SoCal all these years have turned me 'warm-blooded' but I used to live in MA so I have experienced cold weather--the wife may need some convincing to get out of the car before sunrise.

    I guess what I'm really worried about is the terrain and how far of a walk it is from the car to a suitable shooting spot both at dawn and at sunset.. As always, my mobility issue remains the biggest constraint when shooting wildlife.

  4. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Again, please keep in mind that I was there once, 18 years ago. Things may have changed since then.

    There is a big loop that you drive around, and there are areas that you get out to photograph. You don't need to walk around much. Back then I had a 500mm/f4 lens with film SLRs. I assume you'll have some longer lens and perhaps a tripod. In these days one can hand hold a 100-400 or 200-500 without a tripod.
  5. Get a reliable GPS. I was in a bit of a panic when it froze - thankfully the scare was temporary.

    You will be enchanted by the wildlife actions, the exciting snow geese flight at dawn etc. Please don't forget to blend the beautiful landscapes into some of your compositions as well. The Bosque sceneries are beautiful even without the wildlife. Many photographers seem to miss that.

    Scorrow provides inexpensive lodging.

    Last edited: Oct 27, 2017
  6. Thanks Mary - great tips. Yes, I do plan to bring a 20mm and possibly my favorite 35/1.4 Sigma ART with my D800e.
    Mary Doo likes this.
  7. Roger G

    Roger G Roger G

    I live in Albuquerque and visit often.
    *I would recommend pre-booking your hotel as Socorro isn't that big and the Crane Festival sees a lot of visitors.
    *It can be very cold you really must be properly prepared for that. Hat, gloves, warm jacket, warm pants and warm boots at least. Bring chemical handwarmers and a thermos of something hot. The cold air settles in the Rio Grande valley. Average low mid-November for ABQ is 34 degrees. BDA can be 10 degrees cooler than that.
    *It's a half hour drive from Socorro to BDA, depending where on the refuge you plan to go. Bring food and drink for the day - there are 2 small restaurants in San Antonio a few mile N of the refuge but they will be busy during the festival
    *You can park and photograph right by your car. Or from the car, quite often. There are just a few places where you can walk.
    *The festival gets a lot of people. It's good that you will stay on afterwards.
    Lots of things to do in ABQ and Santa Fe. Feel free to ask any other questions on BDA, local birding, the meaning of life or whatever.
    photo_galleries likes this.
  8. Thanks Roger - that's helpful.

    I've got plenty of questions about the meaning of life :)
  9. Roger G

    Roger G Roger G

    Hi again Keith,
    I would imagine BDA is about as good as it gets for someone with mobility issues. I would suggest having some sort folding chair. There are lots of places where you could just sit and wait for birds to come by. Especially once that morning chill is over.

    Although I invited questions on meaning of life, I didn't mean to suggest that I might provide any meaningful answers!
    photo_galleries likes this.
  10. ShunCheung

    ShunCheung Moderator

    Glad to see Roger's input, from someone who is pretty much local to Bosque. It sounds like the situation hasn't changed much since I was there some 18 years ago.
  11. Make your motel reservations in advance as rooms are rarely available w/o one from Nov-Feb. Have a bean bag too as you will likely have opportunities to shoot from your vehicle. Bring a macro lens too as this is a great location for macro work especially on icy mornings. If you are driving bring two tripods and two camera bodies. For certain shooting situations you can set up one camera with a 24-70mm or a 70-200mm, pre-focus, switch to manual focus, and just trip the shutter with a release when the birds fly in with clouds and mountains in the background. The other tripod has your other camera with a longer lens on it for tele shots of the same flyins.

    Make sure you also check out Bernardo wildlife refuge just north of Socoroco. It often has much better crane photo opportunities as the corn field is right next to the road and your car. I have used my 70-200mm lens here for great shots of sandhill cranes. No walking is needed.

    My favorite motels are the Best Western and the Holiday Inn. They are right next to each other. My next choice would be the Econo lodge or Comfort Inn, but take what you can get.

    For sunrise shots, hope for some clouds in the sky and maybe even poor weather as these conditions often produce the best images. Start shooting at 60 minutes before sunrise as the colors the camera will see are more amazing pre sunrise. The same goes for sunsets. Stay one hour past sunset. You have two mountain ranges, one to the east and one to the west.

    If you can try and plan for at least three early morning shoots to increase your odds of getting pretty skies on at least one morning. You do not want just plain blue morning sky. My daughter took a wining sunset picture one year when we were the only two photographers there. Everyone else had left because the weather turned real nasty. But as luck would have it, the sun broke thru and resulted in some amazing skies.

    Bosque is an amazing place. You should love it.

    On the way to Albuquerque there is the Very Large Array--radio telescopes. It takes time but might be worth it, Check it out before you go to see if you are restricted in any form or fashion.
    Visiting the Very Large Array - National Radio Astronomy Observatory
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2017
  12. Been there 2, 3 times in the past few years. There is a dirt road loop with one or two crossing roads. The loop generally encircles bodies of water, but there are "pastures" on the exterior of the loop. TBN there are a few lakes in the area not strictly speaking part of the Bosque, but are on the roads leading to it. I was there in December of 15 and there were THOUSANDS of snow geese in one of them. YMMV but a 200 mm is pretty good for the area. Bear in mind that the Very Large Array RadioTelescope is in the area as are some old mission ruins that should not be missed. I love New Mexico.

    Socorro is a convenient place to stay. I was never there for dawn, but it was still pretty cool.
    November 2011, Sandhill Cranes, Bosque del Apache
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