Photo by Scott Bourne – Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs Creative Commons

Some of you are aware that one of my most successful photographs was made at Bosque del Apache New Mexico a few years back. It is called “Cranes in the Fire Mist.”

There is a part-time photographer (calling himself a pro) who seems obsessed with everything I do and who recently claims he got his “own version” of my shot. Well first I am flattered that he wants to copy me, but I want to point out it’s not that hard – especially the way I think he did it.

The railroad pond (the area where my shot was made) is officially off limits at Bosque. The Refuge and the railroad company have posted no trespassing and no parking signs there and the Refuge has said they will prosecute people who violate the law. Additionally the railroad company has claimed they will also take legal action against trespassers. This past November, I witnessed police citing at least two photographers who went beyond the signs to try to make the shot.

So – for someone to have made their own version of “Cranes,” they either committed a criminal act and ignored the no trespass sign, or more likely – they cheated. And I”ll show you how.

Note the photo above. It’s similar to my original shot but it’s made in an entirely different location. I made this photo too. It’s NOT the same shot though. In fact – it’s facing west not east and it’s made in the late after noon not at sunrise.

The Farm Loop Road as it’s called at Bosque turns on itself at the west side of the refuge. There’s one part of that road where – if you know what you are doing – you can position yourself so that when the birds are landing in the late afternoon sun, a golden glow and the appearance of “mist” can occur, making it possible to copy my shot. The key is using a very long lens and getting someone to drive quickly through that area while you wait for the dust to kick up. That is what creates the illusion of the mist. In my opinion, it’s cheating compared to the way I originally did it – which is wait out nature to get the result – but hey, to each his own.

But it’s important to note to my would-be imitator that anyone who wants to – can try to make the shot. I encourage it! Get yourself to Socorro, New Mexico next November and give it a try. But don’t shoot from the railroad pond unless you want to risk interaction with the cops. Additionally, the Refuge management isn’t too happy about the loads of  photographers who visit Bosque each year and incidents where people ignore the signs at the railroad pond will only make the situation worse for everyone.

As a side note – If any of you are interested in learning how to make the same shots I do – just ask – I’ll gladly share my story and any tips I can to help you  do so safely – no matter who you are.


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