Overview – Texas Bird Photography Workshop
At the Texas Bird Photography Workshop, we will photograph the birds at several of the hottest bird photography locations in South Texas. You could argue they are among the very best in the United States. The first stop will be 3 days of photography on South Padre Island. The migration will still be flying, and the birds will come in droves. Scouting the location this year, I photographed almost 50 species, including numerous warblers, over a day and a half period. It was fantastic, and I am sure that you will enjoy the time we spend looking for birds along the Gulf Coast.
Our nest destination is pretty much the polar opposite as we swap the Gulf for the desert! Our photography for the next 3 days will be Laguna Seca Ranch. I have been to most birding ranches, and I believe that Laguna Seca offers the best photography. If you have never photographed from blinds before, you are in for a real treat. It’s just incredible.
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 magic bird mages. You’ll have opportunities that would be almost impossible in any other place. The Rio Grande Valley sits in line with one of 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 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 food source for miles, 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!
There are about 12 blinds on the ranch, and we will choose the best one for the light and target species. Some are over water, and some are more brushy, but all 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 that the raptors appear seemingly from everywhere when we add to the buffet!
During 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 day’s 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, emphasizing winning compositions. This will be a small group of 6 or less, and I will be able to sort out any issues during the shoots. My primary function is to help you make the best possible images, so I will help you as much as you require. I have also hired a local guide to help plan our shoots. Their local knowledge from shooting daily at the ranch for many years is beyond mine. With their help, we will always be in the best blind at the right time and with the beautiful perches for our target birds.