Texas Bird Blind Photography Workshop

Mesquite Frames A Calling Audubon Oriole
Mesquite Frames A Calling Audubon Oriole

Spring 2014 Rio Grande Valley Bird Blind Photography

Private Bird Photography Workshop

(Limited to Five Photographers)

Four Different Ranches, Five Full Days of Shooting (Best Photo Blind Ranches Around McAllen, Texas)

Revised Dates: Sunday, May 18, 2014 (Arrival) to Saturday, May 24, 2014 (Departure)

Ranches and Photographing Itinerary: 

  • Monday, May 19, 2014 — Cozad Ranch
  • Tuesday, May 20, 2014,  – Martin Refuge
  • Wednesday, May 21, 2014 — Santa Clara Ranch
  • Thursday, May 22, and Friday, May 23, 2014 – Laguna Seca Ranch

Ranch Websites:

Martin Refuge: http://www.martinrefuge.com/
Laguna Seca Ranch: http://photographysouthtexas.com/
Santa Clara Ranch: http://www.santaclararanch.com/

A Posed Green Jay
A Posed Green Jay

Instructors: Bruce Finocchio and John Sorensen, with local guide and photographer, Ruth Hoyt. John Sorensen is an accomplished bird photographer, over 1000 of his images have been published in bird magazines and other publications. Ruth has been guiding and photographing in the Rio Grande Valley and at these locations for many years, for her biography see http://ruthhoyt.com/about/. My photography resume can be found on my biography page: http://dreamcatcherimages.net/about/

Want to get frame filling photographs of small birds with pleasing blurred backgrounds, come to Texas with John and I, and we will put you into position to create some exciting images. These ranches offer the best blinds and bird photography opportunities in the Rio Grande Valley near McAllen, Texas. The Ranches have multiple blinds set up to optimize morning and evening light.

Many of the blinds feature ponds, so you’ll be able to get shots of the birds as they bathe and forage around the blinds. Lots of other animals frequent the properties, too, including Mexican ground squirrels, javelina, snakes, frogs, and lizards. The animals are accustomed to the blinds and often show up within minutes of settling in.  At the Martin Ranch we will focus on Raptors at their raptor blind on Tuesday morning.

Each evening John and I will review images and assist you with improving your shots for the next day. We will also talk about Digital Darkroom and work flow and demonstrate and teach you our techniques.

You’ll have potential opportunities to photograph unique bird species up-close, including:

Black-crested Titmouse Poses
Black-crested Titmouse Poses

Crested Caracara
Harris Hawk
Painted and Indigo Buntings
Green Jay
Blue Grosbeak
Bullock’s and Audubon Orioles
Golden-fronted Woodpeckers
Northern Cardinal and Pyrrhuloxia
Great Kiskadee
Greater Roadrunner
Scissor-tailed Flycatcher
Long-billed Thrasher
Northern Mockingbird
Black-crested Titmouse
Eastern Meadowlark

Recommended Gear:

I recommend either a 400mm lens or equivalent (300mm + 1.4 x teleconverters) on a crop-sensor DSLR or a 500mm or 600mm lens or longer with a full-frame DSLR. If you don’t have a long lens, you might consider renting a lens for the week from a reputable dealer such as www.borrowlenses.com. You’ll also need a sturdy tripod and a flash with a better beamer.  Flash is optional, but it my opinion necessary especial with bright sunny lighting. You can bring a macro lens for insect/reptile photography during other parts of the day when we’re not in the blinds. A second body and lens combo also could be useful to capture flight images, like Caracaras in flight as well as on the ground.

Mature Crested Caracara Comes In For A Landing
Mature Crested Caracara Comes In For A Landing

What’s Included:

Buy Now Button   Deposit of $500.00 to registered and confirm your spot.

Buy Now Button   Balance Due of $1,999.00.

Your registration fee of $2499.00 USD includes:


  • Five full shooting days in the private photo blinds, providing close-up access and clean backgrounds for perfect photographs of rare and unusual species of birds, mammals, reptiles, and insects. These ranch blinds are meticulously maintained by photographers, for photography. Each morning and afternoon we will be photographing birds and animals that come to the ponds around these blinds. Midday breaks we review the morning shoot, plan for the afternoon, and have some time to photograph the other animals.
  •  Accommodations are included. John and I are staying at Alamo Inn and B&B, at the Callis Cottage near Alamo, Texas. This is the peak season in the Rio Grande for bird watching. Before registration or booking your spot on this workshop, you’ll need to contact me, so I can check availability and pricing.
  • Transportation to and from the private ranches, MFE airport, and the inn.
  • Hands-on support with your photography technique at the ranches. Photo review and critique and software training each evening. I’ll make sure you’ve got your camera set up for optimal results. We’ll go through your images after each shooting session to ensure you’re getting the keepers you deserve. My goal is to ensure that each of you goes home with as many beautiful creative images as possible!

 What’s Not Included:

  • Airfare to and from McAllen, International Airport (MFE)
  • Food and Beverages
  • Tips for Ranches and local guides
  • Trip Insurance

Trip Insurance:

If you are concerned about a cancellation, I recommend purchasing trip insurance to cover the costs of the workshop in the event you are unable to attend. We recommend getting a quote from travel insurance broker that lets you choose a custom coverage amount and can also provide medical evacuation coverage.

Please Note: Due to the unpredictability of wildlife, no particular image or species is guaranteed. Weather, seasonal conditions, food availability, all affect the abundance of wildlife in a particular season or area. These Texas ranches are no different in this respect.

Female Cardinal On Top Of Perch
Female Cardinal On Top Of Perch
Female Golden-Fronted Woodpecker
Female Golden-Fronted Woodpecker
Stunning Green Jay
Stunning Green Jay

To see more images from the Martin Refuge and Cozad Ranches I took while at the NANPA 2011 Annual Summit in Mid March 2011; please review my Flickr Texas album at https://www.flickr.com/photos/brucefinocchio/sets/72157629250191839/

*A Release of Liability and Hold Harmless Agreement is required

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