South Texas Bird Photography Workshop

In Archived Photo Workshops, South Texas Bird Photo Workshop by Matt Shetzer



Table of Contents

Day 1
Arrive in Edinburg by flying into McAllen, Texas. After a short taxi ride to our Edinburg hotel, Matt will welcome you and discuss the exciting days to come. We will start the evening with a group welcome dinner to get to know everyone, and then spend the evening in the classroom discussing photographic techniques specialized for the wildlife we will be photographing in the days to come.

Days 2-3
The next two days we will be photographing at the Laguna Seca Ranch in the Rio Grande Valley. We will head to the ranch early in the morning and be ready as the sun comes up and the light is golden.

In the mornings, we will shoot from the blinds designed for morning light, either for song birds or raptors (Crested CaracarA, Harris’s Hawk, White-tailed Hawks and Vultures ).

Once the quality of the light fades, we will take a break and head out to lunch and a short rest at the hotel. After a discussion on more photo techniques, we will head back to the ranch for more photography as the light improves in the late afternoon.

In the evenings, we will shoot from one of the afternoon blinds at a waterhole and enjoy taking images as the nice light hits our subjects. As the sun sets, we will go out to a nice relaxing dinner and share our day’s experiences. Back to the hotel for a quiet night as we have more shooting tomorrow.

Day 4
The next two days we will be photographing at the 300 acre Santa Clara Ranch. We will arrive before the sun rises and chose our blinds. The Santa Clara Ranch is very similar in layout to the Laguna Seca Ranch and has a raptor blind along with multiple morning and evening blinds.

South Texas Bird Photography Workshop

An Audubon’s Oriole climbs to the top

In the morning, we will focus on the wildlife that visits the ranch. The Santa Clara Ranch has many mammals that visit the watering holes/blinds as well, so be ready with your 70-200mm lens.

As the light fades in the late morning, we will head over to the common house and relax in the afternoon over lunch and discussions on post processing our images with Photoshop and Lightroom.

As the late afternoon approaches and the sun lowers, we will head back into the blinds for more photography until the sun sets and our light fades. We will pack up, and head back to town for a nice dinner and back to our hotel.

Day 5
Our second day at the Santa Clara Ranch, we will choose a different morning blind (or a raptor blind if the guests would like to photograph more action ofthe raptors) and enjoy watching and photographing the wildlife until late morning.

South Texas Bird Photography Workshop

A Greater Roadrunner shows off its catch and soon to be dinner of a butterfly

Back into the blinds for the evening shoot and we will hope for more wildlife images from the many species that visit Santa Clara Ranch.

Once the sun sets, we are going to pack up and head to our next destination, a historic Texas ranch. As we arrive a chef will have our dinner ready for us.

We are spending the next two nights at the Ranch, so a quick walk to our rooms, and set the alarms for tomorrow mornings shoot.

Day 6

A full day at the historic Texas ranch will start in the morning blind and watering hole. As the light fades, the chef will have a brunch waiting for us.

Mid-day the ranch will present its Texas history along with stories of the past. As the sun gets lower, we will go to the evening blind that a Greater Roadrunner calls home in addition to the many songbirds in the area.

After another hearty meal, and we will relax in the game room and discuss any other photography subjects the guests are interested in.

Day 7
Our last day will start with a morning blind shoot at the ranch followed by another brunch. No one loses weight on this trip! We will then pack up, say our goodbyes to our kind hosts, and head back to the McAllen airport to catch our departing flights.

  • Harris’s Hawk
  • Audubon’s Oriole
  • Hooded Oriole
  • Crested Caracara
  • Great Kiskadee
  • Pyrrhuloxia
  • White-eyed Vireo
  • Golden-fronted Woodpecker
  • Ladder-backed Woodpecker
  • Northern Bobwhite
  • Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Eurasian Collared-Dove
  • Common Yellowthroat
  • Black-tailed Gnatcatcher
  • Lesser Goldfinch
  • White-crowned Sparrow
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Black Vulture
  • Brown-headed Cowbird
  • Eastern Phoebe
  • Greater Roadrunner
  • Vermilion Flycatcher
  • American Kestrel
  • Long-billed Thrasher
  • Curve-billed Thrasher
  • Yellow-rumped Warbler
  • Yellow-throated Warbler
  • Orange-crowned Warbler
  • Lark Bunting
  • Killdeer
  • Olive Sparrow
  • Black-throated Sparrow
  • Vesper Sparrow
  • Lincoln’s Sparrow
  • Savannah Sparrow
  • Chihuahuan Raven
  • Clay-colored Sparrow
  • Common Ground-Dove
  • House Sparrow
  • White-tailed Hawk
  • Eastern Meadowlark
  • Black-crested Titmouse
  • Green Jay
  • Western Meadowlark
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Scaled Quail
  • Gray Catbird
  • Sprague’s Pipit
  • Ovenbird
  • Turkey Vulture
  • White-tipped Dove
  • White-winged Dove
  • Wild Turkey
  • Green-tailed Towhee
  • Lark Sparrow
  • Mourning Dove
  • Swamp Sparrow
  • Indigo Bunting
  • Hermit Thrush
  • White-tailed deer
  • Javelina
  • Opossum
  • Armadillo
  • Bobcats (Rare but possible)
  • Coyote
  • Raccoon
  • Skunk
  • Cottontail Rabbit
  • Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

While we won’t be able to photograph all of the species listed above during the South Texas Bird Photography Workshop (we can always hope) these lists provide a good sample of the wildlife that visit the ranches we will be photographing.



South Texas Bird Photography Workshop

A Pyrrhuloxia posed for its portrait

  • 6 nights of lodging in Edinburg and authentic Texas Ranch. Double occupancy (Single occupancy available)
  • Transportation for the trip from Edinburg, Texas
  • Breakfasts
  • Dinners on days 1,5 and 6
  • Lunch on day 6-7
  • Full Room and Board while at the historic Texas ranch.
  • Photography classes and workshops on bird photography and photo editing techniques
  • A welcome dinner to meet and greet your fellow photographers and your guides
  • Instruction in the field with your photographer guides with a maximum of 3 photographers per guide
  • Planning Package including recommendation on the proper camera gear and clothing
  • Prior to embarking on your journey, we are happy to provide a free phone consultation with your trip leader, who will give you guidance on what equipment to bring, answer questions about the locale, and give general photography advice to make sure you are ready to capture your dream image.
  • We take care of all of the trip logistics once guests reach Edinburg, Texas, so the only thing you have to concentrate on is having a fantastic time and capturing beautiful images.



South Texas Bird Photography Workshop

A Bobwhite Quail has a drink from a watering hole in front of the photographers blind.

  • Transportation to/from Edinburg, Texas
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Lunch on Days 2-5
  • Dinners on Day 2-4
  • Travel/Cancellation/Emergency evacuation insurance
  • Personal Items



Please take a moment to review our trip reports:
2018 South Texas Bird Photography Workshop



South Texas Bird Photography Workshop is one of our easiest workshops physically. You will need to walk about 200 feet on a dirt road, and a couple of steps into the photo blind. Our shooting takes place primarily in the blinds at the ranches, therefore those with limited mobility won’t have any problems.

If you are concerned about the physical demands of this trip, please contact us and we would be glad to discuss the typical day and options for your needs.

South Texas Bird Photography Workshop

A mated pair of Harris’s Hawks perch in the trees



We welcome any and all photographers from beginners to professionals. This is an excellent workshop for beginners as we spend large amounts of time in the photo blinds, and we can talk about new techniques and try them as the birds come to us.



Typically, you can expect daytime temperatures to range from 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit (15 to 26 degrees Celsius) during the South Texas Bird Photography Workshop, and temperatures around 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (4 to 10 degrees Celsius) first thing in the morning and at night.



Matt Shetzer


Matt has been photographing birds for more than a decade leading trips to Texas, Alaska, Costa Rica and Ecuador. He loves being outside watching these amazing creatures and telling stories with his images. Sharing this beauty with our guests is always a highlight of the year. To read more about Matt, click HERE.



While our primary goal is to maximize field time, we will take advantage of non-optimal photography conditions to provide instruction during the South Texas Bird Photography Workshop. We will discuss the following subjects in detail:

  • Techniques for sharp in-flight images
  • Camera settings for auto-focus in different scenarios
  • Achieving the best composition
  • Proper exposure for the scene
  • Focus techniques for that crisp image
  • Motion blur to add movement to your images
  • Getting the most out of the histogram
  • Mastering the modes (When to shoot Manual, Aperture and Shutter Priorities)
  • Image workup techniques with Photoshop and Lightroom. At each workshop, we demonstrate how to work up attendees’ images from scratch, displaying our nondestructive techniques to produce the highest quality image.
  • Best Photoshop Plugins to use
  • Color Correction
  • Layers and Masks (Masks are targeted adjustments)
  • Noise reduction and sharpening techniques
  • Lightroom and portfolio management
  • Photography discussions – Review select images and discuss which images work and why to expand your skills and move to the next level


South Texas Bird Photography Workshop

Northern Cardinal with a lush green background


  • A telephoto lens from 400 to 600mm
  • SLR or Mirrorless camera
  • A landscape lens anywhere from 20-50mm
  • Tripod with Gimbaled or Ball Head
  • Remote trigger/Cable release

If you need assistance in selecting gear to meet your photography goals just let us know. All guests will receive a detailed planning package to assist in the process prior to the trip.



The South Texas Bird Photography workshop provides a spectacular experience for anyone interested bird photography. Non-photographers are welcome to join us in the field and join in on all activities with a discount of $250.00.

South Texas Bird Photography Workshop

A Green Jay with colorful yellow flowers.



Read what our fantastic guests are saying out us. Client Comments



We strongly recommend all participants purchase trip insurance purchased from a third-party operator to protect your travel investment against medical emergencies, participant trip cancellations, trip interruption and delay, weather delays, missed connections, baggage loss or delay, emergency evacuation and repatriation or simply ‘Cancel for any reason coverage’.

Because Shetzers Photography must pay fees for reservations and leases of accommodations and transportation needs of the group far in advance of the workshop, all paid tour fees are non-refundable, non-transferable and cannot be applied to a future workshop. Shetzers Photography runs small group workshops and wants to ensure the workshops are not canceled due to participant cancellations thus impacting the participants who do not cancel. All tour cancellations must be submitted in writing and will result in loss of deposit and all fees paid.

Please review our Workshop Terms and Conditions.



If regulatory restrictions in the hosting location prevent the workshop from running as scheduled, the workshop will be rescheduled to a future date. All participants must meet hosting country vacination requirements. No refunds or rescheduling will be allowed due to guest cancellations when the workshop is able to run following all host location regulatory restrictions.



South Texas Bird Photography Workshop

Dug out blinds enable the photographers to shoot at eye level with the wildlife, comfortably in chairs.

Over the last few years all of our trips have sold out. We start to fill up about a year before the workshop and keep the website updated with the current workshop availability. If a workshop is full\sold out you can add your name to the waitlist. If a spot becomes available we will contact the guests immediately on the waitlist in the order they signed up. We tend to have the most cancellations 90-180 days before a trip starts so being on the waitlist can help you get on a sold out trip. We require no deposit to be on the waitlist.



The cost for the tour is $3,795.00 based on double occupancy. We do offer single accommodations for an additional $500 per person.

To reserve a spot on this tour, we require a $1,000.00 deposit per person that is paid by credit card at the time of registration. Full tour payments must be completed 90 days prior to the start of the tour and are paid by check or bank transfer.

Once the final trip payment has been received, the detailed trip planning documents will be sent to each guest to assist in planning for the best photography workshop.

Our workshops are based upon a first come, first serve basis. Workshop availability will be updated on this page.

If you have any additional questions or would like to speak to us, please contact us at 303-888-2710 and we would be happy to answer your questions.

South Texas Bird Photography Workshop

A pair of Juvenile Crested Caracara



South Texas Bird Photography Workshop was last modified: August 17th, 2021 by Matt Shetzer