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Ask An Expert: Bosque del Apache

One of my favorite clients emailed me yesterday to ask for my advice on photographing at Bosque del Apache.  He doesn’t have a ginormous telephoto lens and was curious about whether his current gear would still allow for a fruitful trip.  I’ve never been to Bosque del Apache and the only bird I shoot is the one you’ll get for cutting me off in traffic.  So, I consulted the experts and emailed him their responses as well as an esoteric one from me.  Here’s what we came up with:

The Question

Hi Bret,

Looks like I have a weather window to spend this weekend shooting at Bosque del Apache. Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese. Research tells me I do not have lens to do this perfectly, but wonder what potential I have shooting with 28-300 on my Nikon D300?

Since this is a 700-800 mile round trip I’d like to have some idea of what to expect before I invest the time and effort.  I’m not so much into extreme close-up work on the birds, but more into the water, horizon, sunrise or sunset background image. Trip is as much to discover if I want to work this subject more in the future so I’m thinking my equipment may be adequate.

Any advice you might have would be very welcomed.

The Experts Respond

Nat Coalson said: 

I think your equipment will be adequate for a lot of different kinds of shots at Bosque.  If you decide you really want more length, a couple of things you could consider: 

1. Rent a lens. It’s cheap. I can give you a promo code for BorrowLenses.com, which I highly recommend. Renting a lens is also a great way to try out new equipment before buying. 

2. See if there’s a tele-extender that works with your current lens. A 1.5 or 2x extender is a really handy gadget in your bag. 

Hope you have a great trip!

Andy Biggs said:

My hunch is that 500mm would be a good focal length. 

Scott Bacon said: 

Ditto what Andy said.

And finally, my response:

I’m going to get a little more esoteric.  From a practical standpoint I think the gear you have will be fine for just about everything you’ll find there.  If you do find a bird to photograph you may well wish you had a longer lens but as you said, you’re going more for landscapes and less for birds. 

Here’s where I get esoteric – with the right attitude whatever gear you have is the right gear for the moment.  Huh?  What I mean is that regardless of your gear, the weather, the light and the subjects available you can almost always find something to photograph if you keep an open mind and let your creativity take over.

Been to Bosque del Apache and have some advice that might be helpful?  Please leave a comment.  You never know when someone else will stumble across this thread and find great value in your response.  You can never have too much good karma.