BIRD BLIND PHOTOGRAPHY WORKSHOPS: “2023” Fall Season
Fall 2023 Schedule, Fall Focus: Sparrows And The Raptors That Hunt Them.
With Instructor Bruce Finocchio. Sessions are available from September 20, 2023, to October 20, 2023!
Come and visit the idyllic Ramrod Ranch and have birds enchant your senses. Watch them from a Photo Blind just feet away from you, acting naturally, without the influence of your presence.
Fall is a time of significant activity, with many residents and visiting birds coming to drink in my small life-giving ponds. Water is scarce at this time of the year and attracts many species of birds.
The Ramrod Ranch is a magical place to experience all that nature offers.
Setting: The Ramrod Ranch is in Southern Monterey County, just over the divide separating the Carmel Valley from the Arroyo Seco drainage in the Sierra de Salinas Mountain Range. It’s a tranquil and peaceful place, away from the hustle and bustle of urban life. It’s about a 2 to 3-hour drive from most of the Bay Area.
The address is 41485 East Carmel Valley Road, Greenfield, CA 93927, if you would like to find it on Google Maps. I know have a sign on the East Carmel Valley Road at the first entrance gate. Yes, the cabin. It’s about a mile back up on a plateau before the mountain range rises.
Each day session includes six to seven hours of bird blind photography, sitting in a photo blind photographing birds and other wildlife that come to water and perch on specially designed perches and strategically placed bird feeders. After lunch, there will be a review period to go over the morning’s shooting results. I organized this workshop for bird photographers with a minimum of a 300 mm lens with a 1.4x teleconverter. Using flash is recommended at certain times when the light can be harsh. I will explain the fill flash settings and techniques I use. However, at this time, with the increased effectiveness of post-processing, I am not using Flash. If you want to use Flash, I will help you understand the settings and power levels for the best results.
I will provide a detailed course booklet after registering for the workshop. This will include lodging options, equipment to bring, directions, and other pertinent information. The workshops start early, at 6:30 AM, when bird activity begins, and they come to the ponds for water or food.
I limit each day’s session to one photographer, two photographer friends, or a couple. This way, I can give personal attention and focus on your photography needs. Required COVID-19 protocols, such as masks and social distancing, are followed. Each photographer will have their blind. I received the Pfizer vaccine, shots 1 and 2, on March 24, 2021, and April 14, 2021, as well as two booster shots. With the recent COVID-19 changes, the health guidelines have become a bit more relaxed in this outdoor setting. I will conform to whatever clients feel comfortable with.
I now have my 2018 travel trailer at the Ranch for those who wish to do it two days back to back. This is ideal for couples and saves time and the wear and tear of traveling from Soledad or Carmel Valley Motel.
Cost Per Person: One-Day Session = $250.00, Two-Day Session = $450.00, includes a $50.00 discount.
Cost Per Couple: One-Day Session = $400.00 per couple. Two-day or Weekend Sessions = $800.00, including a $50.00 discount per person and a $50.00 discount for a second day. Half-day or just morning shoots are available as well.
On a first-come basis, my travel trailer is available for those wishing to overnight at the Ramrod Ranch. You’ll need to bring your personal sleeping bag. Please inquire as to availability. The cost is $25.00 per night per person. Another option is car camping on the property for $20.00 per day.
The advantages of staying on the property are no travel time, ready to go very early, which is an enormous advantage. While Soledad provides a quicker route to the ranch, the motels are not as desirable. Carmel Valley is more upscale, and the road is curvier and has a slightly longer travel time to the ranch.
I use a Canon 600 RF mm f4.0 lens on a gimbal tripod head and have a second zoom 100 -500 lens for bobcats and foxes. A 500 mm prime is also good and will work for small birds on perches. Long-zoom telephoto lenses are also good. Sometimes I use a 1.4x teleconverter. This equipment is what I would recommend. As mentioned, a 300 mm lens, plus a 1.4 x teleconverter, is the minimal length required.
Limited Space and Availability, Book it now!
Make your payment with PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org, for the total amount with options. I will accept personal checks on a case-by-case basis. Please contact me if you have questions at email@example.com or 650-339-2555.
So, as you know, no particular image or species is guaranteed because of the unpredictability of wildlife. Weather, seasonal conditions, and food availability all affect the abundance of wildlife in a particular season or area. The Ramrod Ranch is no different in this respect.
Ramrod Ranch Story
Over seventy-seven years ago, my dad wanted a place of his own to go deer hunting. Thus, the ramrod ranch was born. A son’s duty is to follow in his father’s footsteps in learning about guns and hunting—a rite of passage into adulthood. Somewhere along the way, I broke from my father’s path at around eighteen years of age. I saw death up close and personal with the dark and black, shining eye of a black-tail deer buck gone dull and gray with death by my hand. This is the moment that changed my life, setting me on the path of cherishing life and rejecting the killing that comes with hunting.
Now no hunting is allowed. My friends and I have developed the property for nature photography, especially bird photography, by building two permanent ponds. If you feed birds, they will come, so we place perches and feeders around our little ponds—arranging the perches to get the best and cleanest backgrounds. From mid-April on, the rains stop, and the country dries out. During the hot summer months, our little ponds provide life-sustaining and precious water for all the bird species around. Besides food, water is a prime attraction for birds. How they like to bathe and clean their feathers!
There are two ponds; each attracts its species, and a few species only use one pond. I find most species at both ponds. Two different habitats; one pond is closer to the brush-covered hillsides, the other in the more open oak grasslands near the cabin. We use photo blinds and place them next to the ponds, so with the right photographic equipment you can get frame-filling images.
It is just marvelous to watch birds in their natural habitat, going about their lives, acting natural. To hear a group of California quail calling around your blind is music to the senses. Sometimes a few mammals will surprise us and come to drink too. Chipmunks are my favorite. As they bustle and scamper about, they always make me happy. I have never seen a sad chipmunk.
I love this place! It is in my heart—it is where I grew up and learned to love the natural world. It’s where I make “nature images that sing to your heart”. Come to my bird photography workshop and I will share the wonder of nature with you.
Wildlife, Bird, and Nature photographer
*I took all images at the Ramrod Ranch.