The Adventures of Bryan

Welcome to my blog, where my nature photography and things that I’m up to come together.

Why I switched to Nikon

I loved my Canon gear and used it for 20 years. The image quality the Canon gear produces is outstanding and the colors are wonderful. But there were many times the autofocus system missed, especially when tracking a bird in flight. This was especially true when the bird was flying in front of a cluttered background. Even when I think I did everything right and had the autofocus sensor actively on the bird, some frames were sharp and in focus and others were not. Some were close and others were a total miss. Many times the best frame in the series was one that was not accurately focused, which was very frustrating. Since trying out the Nikon gear, it was evident the autofocus system is different. And better. Using the Group AF, I can now place the active sensors on the bird and almost every frame, if not all of them, are focused accurately. It even somehow knows to keep focus on the eyes of the bird, not just a random part of the wing. It is uncanny how well it works and makes shooting birds in flight so much more rewarding and fun. I do still find myself slightly preferring the Canon image quality, but with so many more keepers and increasing the chances of capturing that perfect pose, Nikon wins for me.

This animated GIF tells the story the best. This is every frame in a series of the sandhill crane coming in for a landing. The light was still quite low before sunrise and I was shooting at ISO 6400 with the Nikon 600mm f4 on the Nikon D5. Every frame is perfectly focused on the eyes!

Can your gear do that?

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Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

Bosque del Apache Fall Colors

Bosque del Apache Fall Colors

Ahhh, time spent at Bosque is so good for the soul. I recently spent 9 days photographing at the refuge with friends. It was my 14th trip there and the earliest I have ever been there in the fall. There were not as many birds, as they were still in route on their migration to New Mexico. But the spectacular fall colors made for gorgeous backgrounds at many of our locations. The cottonwoods along the Rio Grande were ablaze in fiery oranges and yellows. What a sight to see this ribbon of color, meandering along the valley between the subtler hues of the surrounding mountains. Vibrant blue skies with occasional puffy white clouds completed the palette. Halfway through the week a massive cold front came from the north, bringing snow to the higher elevations and windy, colder conditions to the valley. It also brought the birds. Wave after wave of sandhill cranes and snow geese descended on the fields and ponds after riding the northerly winds, dramatically increasing the numbers of birds at the refuge. Then the first hard freeze of the season took place at night, taking all the color out of the cottonwoods and turning their leaves to a leather brown color. It was an incredible change in 24 hours.

I will be returning to Bosque soon for more, but for now here are some images I created during this past trip. Thanks for looking!

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Bosque Dawn

Bosque Dawn

Sandhill Cranes bugling

Sandhill Cranes bugling

Snow Goose

Snow Goose

Sandhill Cranes return in the evening

Sandhill Cranes return in the evening

White-crowned Sparrow

White-crowned Sparrow

Snow Geese with their feet lit up

Snow Geese with their feet lit up

Sandhill Cranes on the ice

Sandhill Cranes on the ice

female Bufflehead

female Bufflehead

Sandhill Cranes return in the evening

Sandhill Cranes return in the evening

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane early morning

Sandhill Crane early morning

Pied-billed Grebe

Pied-billed Grebe

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane with snow-capped mountains

Sandhill Crane with snow-capped mountains

male Northern Harrier

male Northern Harrier

Sandhill Crane preparing for takeoff

Sandhill Crane preparing for takeoff

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane returns at sunset

Sandhill Crane returns at sunset

Milky Way over the crane pool

Milky Way over the crane pool

Sandhill Crane pair bugling

Sandhill Crane pair bugling

All images copyright Bryan Holliday