Bosque del Apache 2008

The day after Thanksgiving, I picked up a rental car and started driving to Socorro, New Mexico. This was an 11-hour drive, but I had committed to picking up my friend Jennifer from the Albuquerque airport about 10 AM on Saturday. The rental was a Kia Sorrento SUV, big enough to hold a bunch of photo gear. I was thankful that the price of gas had fallen well below $2/gallon, and that the SUV managed about 20 mpg.

I could have gone a variety of different routes to Socorro, but I went with the advice of my Garmin GPS, by way of San Angelo, Roswell, and Carrizozo. (Sadly, it was too late to pay my respects at Smokey the Bear’s grave on the way through Capitan.)

Saturday, November 29 – Tuesday, December 2
5:00 AM. Time to get up and start three and a half days of intense, frustrating, yet relaxing, bird photography at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge, south of Socorro. It wasn’t long before I saw one of my photography mentors, Arthur Morris.

Artie is arguably the world’s greatest bird photographer. He leads photo tours all around the world. He’s sometimes a little rough around the edges, but a very good teacher. You can learn a lot from Artie just by being nearby as he yells advice to his workshop students, and as he weighs the options to keep shooting or move on to another spot. I also recommend his book, The Art of Bird Photography II, a 916-page book for which I did a thorough editorial review.

Favorite 2008 Artie Morris quote: “These silhouettes are the easiest situation for auto-focus. If you can’t get your camera to auto-focus here, you should take up knitting.”

I also saw a couple of other pro photographers I know, Robert O’Toole and Larry Ditto. Larry lives down in McAllen, and had his own workshop group at Bosque. I first met him on a trip to the cloud forest near Gómez Farías, Tamaulipas, Mexico. I also introduced myself to another pro I recognized, Laurie Excell, leading her own small photo tour.

My friend Jennifer and I first met on a photo workshop in Utah a few years ago, and we’ve stayed in touch and done other photo adventures together. She’s an oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, and an assistant professor at the Harvard Medical School.
Rounding out our trio was my friend Nicole, a great photographer and one of my best friends.

Here are a few of my favorite images. Click on each to enlarge. (More available on bhpowell.com.)

It’s kind of hard to see here, but the moon, Venus, and Jupiter are all in the sky on this Monday evening.


Here’s a silhouette of my friend Nicole, as we tried to hold on to the last bit of light.


This next shot is with an infrared fisheye, pointed straight up as snow geese flew overhead. You can see a bit of the ground at the corners.

Tuesday morning, we were up for one final dawn photo shoot, then back to the hotel to check out, and off to Albuquerque. I dropped Nicole and Jen off at the airport, and drove on to a work meeting in Albuquerque.