Sandhill Cranes flying at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Winter in North America is a time when a lot of birds migrate to their winter locations. New Mexico hosts a lot of migratory birds. Perhaps the most famous of these are the Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese that winter over at the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near Socorro. In recent years the refuge has had issues with the available grain and the number of birds there has been down. On the other hand, another refuge about an hour to the north of Bosque is the Ladd S. Gordon Waterfowl Complex and it has seen increasing numbers of birds for the last few years. The Ladd S. Gordon Waterfowl Complex is composed of the Belen, Casa Colorada, Bernardo, and La Joya Waterfowl Areas. The Bernardo Waterfowl Area contains a wildlife trail complete with viewing and photographic towers and is open to the public. It has become a popular site for birders and photographers.

For the last few years I have made trips to Bernardo with the birding group I am a member of and with other photographers. This year was no exception. In addition to the birders trip, three friends and I made a two day trip to Bosque and Bernardo in mid January. The weather was perfect for that time of year and we got some really nice shots. The pre-dawn was really good but the morning blast off from the main pond at Bosque happened pretty early. I’m not sure what spooked the birds but there was too little light to get and good mass ascension shots. We still managed to get quite a few nice images over the two days.

Sandhill Cranes flying south over a pond at the Bernardo Waterfowl Area at sunset


Sandhill Cranes flying in to Bernardo

Snow geese flying in to the Bernardo

Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese at Bernardo









Closer to home there are several nice locations to photograph birds in the winter. One of there is the Albuquerque Biological Park. There are three areas at the park that I like in the winter: the back ponds at Tingley Beach, the duck pond at the Albuquerque Zoo and main pond at the Albuquerque Botanic Garden. This winter I have gone on photo shoots a couple of times to both Tingley and the zoo. The weather was great for all four trips and we managed to get some good images each time.

Canada Geese flying past the moon

Male wood duck

Female wood duck

American Coot








The migratory birds have already started heading back north so soon it will be time for the summer species to show up. My favorite among those are the hummingbirds. More about that later…


Mike Stoy

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Feather and water drop on plexiglass with gel lights

For me winter is a chance to shoot in the studio. I have a large woodworking shop and every December I like to do a complete cleaning of the shop (a good idea once a year on general principles). This is long effort spread over three days since every time I make a cleaning pass I need to let the dust settle for eight hours or so before the next pass. I don’t want to leave any wood dust around to get into my camera body when I change lenses.

Since my studio work is all  what would be called table top work I set a full sheet of plywood on my table saw to act as a shooting table. Next I bring all my studio gear into the wood shop. I don’t have the kind of gear that a portrait studio photographer would use. Instead I have a lot of small stands, clamps, table top tripods and the like. I do have three normal sized mono lights but most of what I do is done with Nikon’s macro light system.

Scotch bottle and glass

Stop motion water drops

Bowl and plate with marbles on plexiglass

Wine bottle and glass










Soft focus Alstroemeria

I am interested in shooting a wide range of small objects with different lighting set-ups. A lot of what I do is very high contrast or back lit images with fully saturated colors. I like the bokeh of my primary Sigma 150mm macro lens so I shoot quite a few shallow DOF images as well. I also really love to shoot flowers although the selection available in the winter in Albuquerque is a bit limited. I am a member of the local photography club, the Enchanted Lens Camera Club, in Albuquerque. I am also in one of the portfolio groups in the club and my project for this year is “Ethereal Flowers”. I’ll try and write a post about it when I finish the portfolio.



Another of my favorite subjects is reflected and refracted light. Over the years I have done a lot of experiments with this from water drops to soap bubbles. Just last year I tried doing refractographs for the first time and found that fascinating. I am planning on doing some more of them next winter and I may choose that as a portfolio project for next year.




I just packed up all the studio gear for this year so I can tackle some woodworking projects. So unless I get really motivated I won’t be doing any more studio work until next winter.


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