Overview – Texas Bird Photography Workshop
The Texas birding ranches have earned their legendary status by offering unique, repeatable, productive opportunities for bird photographers to make stunning photographs. For nearly 20 years the ranches have offered intrepid photographers a chance to brave the heat and the rattlesnakes to make bird mages that would be almost impossible any place else. The Rio Grande Valley sits in line with one the great bird migration routes, and for some of these long-distance flyers, this desert oasis may be the first place they could rest and eat in weeks. The weary birds are tired and hungry, and the ranches have plenty of fresh water and food laid out like a bird buffet. They have also built fantastic photography blinds for you to get close and improve your chances of fabulous photos to nearly 100 percent! Back in the day, these blinds were no more than folding chairs and a tent; now they are dug into the ground with comfortable chairs and concrete floors. While we still may have a stray rattler or tarantula to deal with it is now a lot more like the Taj Mahal than a backyard setup.
The food and water that the ranchers provide may be the only constant source of food for miles, and so the birds come to us! We don’t have to traipse through the desert spooking more birds than we photograph, we sit back and let the action fly to us!
The are many blinds on the ranch, and they have some set up for morning light and some for evening light. Some are over water, and some are more brushy, but all of them have clean backgrounds for beautiful bokeh no matter how fast of a lens you carry. We will have full control over decorating the perches for a far better version of bird photos than the good old “bird on a stick pics”! There is a unique blind for raptors as well. The ranch feeds the raptors year-round to keep them in the vicinity for you to photograph. Trust me when I say, when we add to the buffet, the raptors appear seemingly from everywhere!
On this workshop, you will receive instruction from a professional wildlife photographer and published bird photographer, Jeff Wendorff. With Jeff’s help, your cameras will be set for optimum control of exposure for the birds and the time of day that we are photographing. Each day will include a recap of the days shoots with a group download and easy-going helpful commentary on your images. There will be at least one teaching session for the group on the most effective way to edit bird photography with an emphasis on winning compositions. This will be a small group of 6 or less, and I will be able to sort out any issues that may arise during the shoots. My primary function is to help you make the best possible images, and so I will be with you to help. I have also hired a local guide to help plan our shoots, their local knowledge from shooting at the ranch for many years is beyond mine. With their help, we will always be in the right blind at the right time and with the right perches for our target birds.
Highlights Texas Bird Photography Workshop
- 4 Nights and 5 Days
- Small Group of 5 Clients
- Bird Photography Expert
- Local Guide
- Photographing from Blinds
Group 1 – Arrive May 3, 2020 and Depart May 7 after 12PM
Group 2 – Arrive May 7, 2020 and Depart May 11 after 12PM
Arrive at McAllen International Airport
Make your way to Edinburg, TX, to the hotel for our stay. It is about a 20-minute drive from the airport to the hotel. Arrive in time for a meet and greet and orientation at the hotel. Afterward, we will go for a group meal (included) to get acquainted and male sure all is well for our early start the following day.
These are our principal photography days for the trip, and the activities will be mainly the same each day.
We will plan to leave the hotel at about 5:45AM each morning arriving at the ranch during the twilight hour pre-dawn. We will meet our guide and then proceed to our chosen photography blind to get our gear set up and our perches ready to photograph birds in the golden hour of sunrise.
We will photograph until the light turns too bright at which point we will return to the hotel. Back at the hotel, we can start the downloading and then grab some lunch. After lunch, we will meet in the conference room for a look at the images from the morning, checking for any issues that need to be corrected before the evening photoshoot.
We will head back to the ranch around 4 and shoot until it’s too dark.
There are no activities planned after we return to the hotel.
Today we will check out of the hotel and return to the ranch for one more session. The goal today is a chance to re-do any shots that you may have missed, and that means that we may not all be in the same blind for the whole morning. We will leave in time to arrive at McAllen Airport at noon.
What is Included?
The workshop cost includes all the following: A welcome meeting/dinner with your fellow photographers and your guides. Instruction in the field with your photographer guides, image critiques, instructional bird photography presentation(s), digital workflow demonstration, and unlimited question answering!
What is Not Included?
The workshop cost does not include international or domestic airfare, ground transportation, lodging, travel insurance, alcohol, items of personal nature, or anything not outlined as covered.
Your guides will share their bird photography knowledge with you so that you will leave a better photographer than when you arrived. You will learn about planning, gear, and bird photography techniques.
- How to optimize your camera settings for bird photography
- Proper long lens shooting techniques
- Lens stabilization for bird photography
- Learn how to anticipate bird photography opportunities
- Learn bird traits to improve bird photography
The tour size is limited to 5 photographers, you can count on a ton of one on one attention and education.
Be prepared for temps between 70 and 100F (21- 38 C). Loose fitting, breathable, quick drying clothes work best. We will be in a blind most of the time, but sunscreen is advised.
It is not likely to rain!
You should wear neutral colors.
I prefer closed-toe shoes and socks, there are spiders and scorpions around!
Bird photography is always best with big glass, a minimum of 400mm, and as much as you have will be the proper choice for this workshop. A sturdy tripod and a gimbal head will be invaluable. If you are bringing an 800, you should also pack an extension tube.
You will take more images than you might expect so be sure you’re loaded up with memory cards.
It’s almost impossible to list everything that you’ll need, so just get in touch, and we can talk about what you have and what you might need.
Arrival and Departure Airport
McAllen International Airport (MFE) is the destination airport in Texas.
Pick up your rental car and drive about 20 minutes to our hotel in Edinburg, TX.
All group meetings, classroom sessions and carpool originations will be at the Marriott.
Marriott Townplace Suites
502 West Trenton Road Edinburg Texas 78539
You should be able to make it back to the airport by noon to catch your outbound flight.
We always use trip insurance. It’s so much easier and with so many more benefits when you compare it with your insurance. I’ve found the costs to be reasonable given the benefits. I use Travel Guard when I travel and even though; I’ve not had a claim they were helpful and easy to deal with on the phone.
Click the Green Button at the Bottom the page and that will take you to my payment processor and you can choose your favorite method of payment. In the White Box you can enter the number of places that you would like to book.
About 30 days before departure, you will get a welcome kit with the nuts and bolts of what to expect. Of course, feel free to email me or call me and we can talk about it as much as you like!
There is a 2.5% convenience fee to pay your balance by credit cards. There are no fees with any of the listed payment methods for your deposit. Be sure to read the Terms and Conditions and or the FAQ to fully understand about deposits, cancellations and other important, but boring stuff.
I’ve been very passively advising my clients to purchase travel insurance for a while, but lately it seems like there have been multiple people having travel issues. Some have lost their deposits and sometimes even the cost of the entire trip!
Based on my client’s experience, I cannot stress more strongly how crucial it is to purchase travel insurance. Like I said before, and here it comes again, there is never a way to predict what is going to happen when you are booking trips months and years into the future.
You can read more about my thoughts about the importance of travel insurance in this blog post.
Or you can go get a free quote and book your vital travel insurance.
The tuition for the Texas Bird Photography Workshop is $1995 USD.
The deposit for this workshop is $500 USD. The deposit can be paid by PayPal, Credit Card, Wire Transfer or Check. Actually, if you have another way you would like to pay, I am open to new ideas when it comes to collecting money!
The balance of the workshop tuition will be due March 7, 2020 (60 days prior).
Ready to Go?
My goal is to help you to become a better bird photographer than when you arrived, to help you make the best possible images, to provide a few laughs and even more knowledge and to make sure you have some photographs that make you proud! Ready? Hit that registration button right now!
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