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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge, Fort Calhoun, Nebraska

This Article Features Photo Zoom

favorite places
Photo Experience
When I arrive, I explore one small area with my camera, perfecting the composition and waiting for the light to change. For this image, I took several photographs and stayed for over an hour before this particular scene emerged. When capturing the expanse of the prairie with a dramatic sky, I use wide-angle lenses, either a Canon EF-S 10-22mm or a 17-40mm ƒ/4L. Out on the plains, a set of hard-step, graduated ND filters are a must to hold back the intensity of light in the sky and reveal details in the foreground. Here, I used a three-stop, hard-step graduated ND filter coupled with my 10-22mm lens.

When photographing wildlife on the refuge, I use a 300mm ƒ/4 lens usually coupled with a 1.4x teleconverter for maximum reach. I always carry a sturdy, tall tripod that extends beyond the shoulder-high prairie grass. My tripod head of choice is a Manfrotto 3265 Grip Action Ball Head, which allows me to quickly recompose my composition if the action changes.

Best Times
Wildlife is abundant at Boyer Chute—red foxes, beavers, badgers, coyotes and turtles can be spotted at various times throughout the year. The early spring and late fall months bring the migratory season and a variety of birds visiting on their journey. Expect to see sandhill cranes, pelicans, mallards, Canada geese, spotted sandpipers, snow geese and herons.

favorite placesEssential Gear...
Neutral-density filters are popular with landscape photographers for reducing light to slow shutter speeds. The longer capture time offers extended control over exposure and also provides motion-like effects like water, which can be subtly blurred for a dreamlike effect. B+W offers ND filters in strengths of one and two stops, ranging in diameter from 19mm to 77mm. Contact: B+W (Schneider Optics), (631) 761-5000, www.schneideroptics.com.
Late-afternoon thunderstorms are common in the spring months and can produce intense lighting followed by some dramatic light. During this time, a variety of wildflowers sprinkle color throughout the refuge while songbirds pepper the prairie. In winter, the chute normally freezes, creating an abstract of frozen ice patterns, while frost coats the prairie grass with a silvery sheen. Bald eagles often are seen flying high above the refuge, darting down for the occasional meal.

Contact: Boyer Chute National Wildlife Refuge, www.fws.gov/midwest/boyerchute.


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