Explore the best the Texas Rio-Grande valley has to offer for bird photography during the South Texas Bird Photography Workshop as we visit three of the best photo ranches in the valley.
During the week, we will visit the Laguna Seca Ranch, the Santa Clara Ranch, and one of the largest historic Texas ranches settled in the 1890’s.
We will explore these premier nature photography locations that have been designed for photographers by photographers. Each ranch location has multiple professional below-ground photo blinds designed to capture the beautiful morning and evening light. They also place the photographer at eye level with the wildlife and add desirable warm creamy backgrounds that bring focus to your subject.
3 Birding Ranches
Explore three birding ranches during this workshop to diversify your images and capture all South Texas has to offer.
Introduction to Night Photography with SLRs and Remote Telescopes.
Each of the three private ranches have unique wildlife species, as well as varying backgrounds that will make your portfolio from the trip stand out.
As we are visiting a very remote and dark locations in South Texas, we decided to add a little twist to the South Texas Bird Photo Workshop and include night photography to the agenda. Once the sun has set, we will head out into the night and photograph under the stars if we are fortunate to have clear skies.
We plan to photograph star trails, galaxies and nebula with our star tracking system and introduce remote telescope imaging that you can do from anywhere you have an internet connection.
A local guide will be joining us to assist the group with the wildlife trends and behaviors as well as assist with photogenic perches and tricks for attracting with wildlife. Over the years, we have found that having a local guide assist the photo workshop is a great asset to the group as they are daily out in the field at the ranches we visit and are familiar with the species that are currently visiting the blinds.
A greater roadrunner poses on a log during the South Texas photo workshop
Golden-fronted woodpecker upside down on perch
A crested caracara on a perch for the photographers
A western diamondback rattlesnake photographed from the blind.
Bodes Galaxy - Introduction to deep sky imaging during the workshop
Wild Turkeys running around a historic Texas ranch
Laguna Seca Ranch
This family owned private ranch contains 700 acres of pristine brush land. The professional below-ground photography blinds have been designed with watering holes to put the photographer comfortably in the right position as the wildlife comes to feed and drink from each location. There are two morning blinds and two evening blinds as well as a raptor blind to keep up busy while at this location.
Laguna Seca Ranch has feeders located around the property that attract wildlife year-round. Its carefully designed photography blinds enable to guests to photograph the colorful South Texas birds with pleasing backgrounds in-flight or while perched.
The raptors are fed at the Laguna Seca Ranch a couple of times each week, whether there are photographers on location or not. By constantly feeding the raptors, they now call Laguna Seca their home, and provide great photo opportunities for our guests of the South Texas Bird Photography Workshop.
The Crested Caracara, a tropical version of a vulture that is related to falcons
Santa Clara Ranch
A private wildlife sanctuary with over 300 acres of virgin brush land, the Santa Clara Ranch is a premier wildlife photography location. In addition to the many species of birds that frequent South Texas, Santa Clara ranch has many mammals that visit its watering holes and photo blinds.
Santa Clara Ranch has two morning blinds and two evening blinds, as well as raptor blind providing the group with many options throughout our time here. Each blind has a watering hole, rarely found in the wild of South Texas’s dry climate, to attract the wildlife and make it part of their daily routine.
This premier ranch in the lower Rio Grande Valley provides a natural habitat for the native wildlife to call home, and has constructed pit blinds for the photographers to capture beautiful images.
Historic Texas Ranch
Explore one of the 10th largest working ranches in Texas spanning over 34,000 acres. The ranch was first settled in the early 1890’s and has very little modifications since the Spanish/Mexican colonial era.
Professional below ground blinds designed for photographer by photographers.
The ranch has many historic structures on the property which lends to our night photography goals as well as provides fantastic opportunities for us to walk around the grounds and capture images the ranch symbolic of Texas’ past.
This historic ranch contains two below ground blinds, one that is designed for morning light and the second for evening light. Both blinds offer very pleasing setups with a waterhole at each and pleasing backgrounds.
As this ranch is very remote and offers dark skies with little light pollution, we will be photographing at night at this property. Whether we are adding old barns to the foreground with the stars above, or just concentrating on beautiful objects in the sky, this is a great opportunity to experience the enjoyment of night photography during the South Texas Bird Photography Workshop.
Star tracking system rotating at the earths rotational speed to enable longer exposures with round stars.
Night Skies and Intro to SLR Camera Star Tracking systems
Lenses with short focal lengths can do wonders in capturing both landscapes and stars in less than one minute, however there are many stunning objects such as the Orion nebula, the Pleiades or the Horsehead Nebula that only reveal their detailed structure with larger lenses. We now need to take a closer look at the sky with higher magnification.
It is then that we start noticing the movement of the sky – stars are no longer round and appear as unwanted streaks in our image. Of course, the stars are not moving, it is the rotation of the earth that is now the issue and to compensate for this, we need to replace our tripod with more sophisticated tools. This is where equatorial mounts with tracking capabilities become the necessity.
By using these techniques, we can create beautiful images never thought possible with SLR cameras and give you ample opportunity to discover the night sky.
A Greater Roadrunner. Watching this amazing creature, you can just hear the cartoon going ‘meep meep’