Category Archives: New Mexico

New Mexico winter trip

I love photographing in winter in New Mexico.  The quality of light is warm and inviting and the skies are often colorful.  I especially like making black and white images from some of the places I visit there.  This trip I focused on White Sands National Monument, Pecos NHP, Abo Ruins, and Fort Union.  On the way back, I took the high road to Taos and stopped at the Sanctuary in Chimayo.  I also explored the Taos Pueblo.  

White Sands

White Sands National Monument is always a great spot for photographs. Located about 50 miles east of Las Cruces, NM, White Sands is one of my favorite spots to go in winter.  The temperature was a near perfect 55 degrees and there were few clouds own the sky.  The contrast of the stark white sand with deep blue sky makes for some really cool black and white images.  On this trip down, there were a lot of visitors os I had to walk about a mile to find some dunes without tons of footprints all over them.  I looked for some with animal tracks to make for interesting lead in lines.  I tried to also do a couple of panoramic images.  

Fort Union

Fort Union was one of the largest forts in the West.  It contained a large number of adobe buildings.  Today, the ruins of walls are all that is left (after the fort was abandoned, the locals stripped the fort of glass and tin leaving the walls to crumble).  However, those ruins make for some very interesting subjects.  One has a long row of windows while another has a wagon out front.  I just wish the place would’ve been open near sunset which would’ve made for even more dramatic photographs.  Fort Union is located near Las Vegas, NM about an hour east of Santa Fe.  

Abo Ruins

The ruins of the Salinas Pueblo missions are one of my favorite spots to photograph in New Mexico.  There are three separate ruins but this time I stopped at Abo.  I have been trying to get good photos of this place near sunset and I finally had the opportunity to do so.  The ruins of the church mission glow red near sunset, making for some very interesting compositions.  Again, walls and windows are all that is left so this challenges the photographer to come up with interesting angles to shoot from.  Abo ruins are located about 30 miles east of I-25 off of Highway 60, about an hour south of Albuquerque.  

Pecos NHP

Pesos NHP contains another mission ruin as well as a kiva that you can go down in.  The ruin is not as large as the one at Abo but contains some cool doorways and windows to photograph.  It is about 20 minutes east of Santa Fe, just off of I-25.    


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Bosque del Apache

Bosque del Apache NWF

I spent a quick trip in New Mexico over winter break.  Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge is a great place to visit in the winter since so many birds spend the cold months there.  I also explored some nearby refuges including the Bernardo refuge and Valle de Oro near Albuquerque.  All of these were good places for wildlife photography.  Bosque features sand hill cranes and thousands of waterfowl, including snow geese and several species of ducks.  I witnessed a beautiful mass take off of snow geese the morning I arrived.  I also saw several thousand pintail ducks.  I even spotted a javelina but it darted into the bushes as soon as I stopped.  I only had a 300 mm 2.8 lens with me on the trip so I focused mainly on photographing clumps of birds rather than individual birds.  Next time I’ll bring a 600mm lens with me.  

Bernardo Wildlife Area

The Bernardo wildlife area contains feeding grounds for sandhill cranes.  It is located just north of Bosque.  Take the exit for Highway 60 and head east.  Take the first left and then head north on the frontage road.  Shortly, the road brings you to the access to the Bernardo.  There were several hundred cranes clumped together in the fields.  There are a couple of elevate viewing decks to explore while you are there.

Valle de Oro NWF

Lastly, I stopped at a brand new wildlife refuge, Valle de Oro.  It is located about 5 miles south of the airport in Albuquerque.  The refuge is small.  It has a couple of roads through feeding fields and you can also walk a short trail along the Rio Grande.  I did;t see much while I was there  until four coyotes ran across the road.  They quickly disappeared but I managed to snap a couple of pictures before they ran off.   

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