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© Laurie Excell

The Photographer
Laurie Excell is a wildlife photographer, speaker, writer and workshop leader whose images have appeared in Outdoor Photographer, Outdoor Photography (UK), Photoshop User Magazine, Audubon calendars and other publications. Her intimate workshops encourage small groups of like-minded photographers to enjoy time in nature while learning the process of photography from start to finish. She has also authored two books: Snapshots to Great Shots and Composition and Wildlife Photography, both published by Peachpit Press. Thousands have enjoyed viewing her images while listening to her speak at Photoshop World, camera club conventions and at other events.

The Client
A personal project while leading a photographic workshop at Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge near San Antonio, NM.

The Assignment
Photograph the tens of thousands of Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes that call Bosque del Apache home during the winter months.

The Execution
“In wildlife photography, timing is everything, from being in the right place at the right time to the actual execution. The best time of year for photographing Snow Geese and Sandhill Cranes at Bosque are from mid-November through mid-January. Each morning the Snow Geese blast off from the local ponds into the sky and shortly afterwards the Sandhill Cranes follow– off to the farm fields to spend the day foraging for food. At the end of day they return to the ponds where they roost in safety for the night. Once the sun drops behind the hill to the west, the light drops off dramatically.

“My shooting options at that time of day were limited to raising my ISO higher than 200 (at which this photo was shot), adding fill-flash or going with the low light and trying some blur pans. I chose blur panning at slow shutter speeds in order to create a feeling of motion, mood and softness. Successful blur panning requires panning with the bird, keeping its eye in focus and releasing the shutter while both camera and subject are moving. It takes practice, practice, practice and my “keeper” ratio drops significantly when I attempt this technique but, when successful, it’s worth the effort.”

Post Production
“Post production began using Nikon Capture NX2 where I processed the RAW file, deepening the darks, brightening the image overall and adding a touch of high pass filter to increase the clarity. Once I had the image to my liking I opened it as a TIFF in Photoshop CS6 where I used NIK Color Efex Pro to bring out the rich colors and NIK Dfine to reduce noise. I then saved the finished file with all the layers at the native size. From that master file I'm able to either downsize to JPEGS for social media, web and emails or upsize (using OnOne Perfect Resize) to produce large prints, posters or murals. With a good, clean, original file, the possibilities are nearly endless.”

The Output
“I have relied on Red River papers for years to provide a quality product that I can be proud to print my images on, both for my clients as well as for my own enjoyment. Some of my top picks are Polar Gloss Metallic 255, (my hands down favorite), Aurora Art Natural with its ‘fine art’ finish and Polar Matte for my personalized greeting card line. The longevity of the images on my walls and my customers’ satisfaction keep me reaching for Red River papers when it's time to hit the print button.”

To find out more about Laurie's Excellent Photo Adventures, her fine art images and more, visit or email her at




Pro Favorites

UltraPro Satin

UltraPro Satin looks and feels just like traditional photo lab paper and features a medium depth luster finish. Learn more

Favorite Of: Jim DiVitale, Peter Randall

River Linen

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Aurora Art

Made using fine 100% cotton rag content, Aurora offers the look and feel of fine art paper. Learn more

Favorite of: Marilyn Sholin, Matt Hoyle, Susan McCartney
Kaitlin Walsh

Arctic Polar Satin

Its crisp blue white shade ensures your images will project more brilliance. The state of the art microporous coating will enhance details and color saturation. Learn more

Favorite of: Al Francekevich, Susan McCartney

Polar Gloss Metallic 255

Your images will take on a brilliant, almost luminescent quality. Everything from airplanes to flowers will look bolder, more saturated, and more real.
Learn more

Favorite Of: Dan Shepherd


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