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Our guides can teach you how to take better images with your existing equipment. Be sure to bring your camera manual with you to get the most out of these workshops!
NOTE: All trips are limited to 8 (or less) participants.


with Clay Taylor
Sponsored by Swarovski Optik

Fee $30 / Saturday 3pm – 6pm

These workshops, sponsored by Swarovski Optik, are designed for digiscopers of all levels of experience but will be particularly valuable for struggling beginners. They will be conducted by Clay Taylor, the Naturalist/Market Manager with Swarovski Optik Ltd and a pioneer of digiscoping in the U.S. Meet onsite at the deck at Estero Llano Grande State Park (not allowed on other trips). Clay will cover setups, camera settings, field-shooting techniques and reviews of images. Please bring all your equipment including spotting scope, tripod, camera and adapter, fully charged batteries and empty memory cards. If you do not have a spotting scope, let Clay know in advance at [email protected]. Clay will also have digiscoping adapter for DLSR cameras and Smartphones available.

Goals: Increased facility with digiscoping and better results!


Fee $200 / Sunday 6am – 1:45pm

The Martin Refuge, owned by John and Audrey Martin, has hosted wildlife photographers since 2003 on its 300 acres of thornscub enhanced by water features and professionally designed photo-blinds ( It is particularly renowned for the opportunities it gives to photographers for close views of Crested Caracaras, Harris’s Hawks and other raptors. We will be joined for the trip by the Refuge’s own guide, who is both a birder and an experienced photographer, but this is not a workshop – just a unique opportunity to get great shots of wildlife at a private ranch. After a morning of photography, the Refuge will be providing us with lunch at one of its open air palapas.

Note: This trip is suitable for photographers of all levels. Bring lots of batteries – there is no electricity on site. Restroom available on-site.


with Ruth Hoyt
Fee $215 / Friday or Saturday 6am – 2pm

This special trip is designed for birders who carry both camera and binoculars. Professional photographer Ruth Hoyt shares her experience, knowledge and photo tips generously as she leads a select group at the internationally known 700-acre Laguna Seca Ranch. She encourages and instructs participants as they are seated in comfortable photo blinds designed and known for their stellar shooting opportunities and professional-level photography. More of Ruth’s photos can be seen at and to learn more about the Laguna Seca Ranch, go to

Important: Choose from either the Friday or Saturday ranch experience. Designed for the advanced amateur and above.

PHOTOGRAPHING BIRDS IN ACTION on SPI Van_1 Transit_1 WC_1 LunchBox_1PhotoOp_1

with Larry Ditto and Bill Supulski
Fee $185 / Thursday 6am – 3pm
A one-day workshop with esteemed pro Larry Ditto—whose work has appeared in many national publications—and on South Padre Island! Your digital camera can easily capture birds in flight or actively feeding. In the morning, we’ll work on flight shots and action photography, followed by an indoor workshop on Photoshop techniques, so you might want to bring your laptop. Come with a basic working knowledge of your camera, bring telephoto and/or macro lenses, tripod, plenty of memory cards, spare battery and, most importantly, your camera manuals
Goals: Improve composition skill; learn appropriate f-stop, shutter speeds and ISO settings; understand your camera’s controls and custom functions; learn how and when to use flash; discover how to get sharp, pleasing, successful photos of birds in action. Also, learn how to process your photos using Adobe Photoshop.


with Larry Ditto and Bill Supulski
Fee $155 / Wednesday 7am – 2pm

A shorter workshop offering at a surprising location – the North American Butterfly Association’s unique park, with its photo-friendly bird feeding area. This is probably the best place to easily shoot Green Jays, Plain Chachalacas, Olive Sparrows, Altamira Orioles and other Valley gems. Combine this with personal in-the-field assistance for a good day learning how to photograph birds like the one Larry photographed here. To see more of Larry’s outstanding nature photography, go to his webpage – 

Goals: Improve composition skill; learn appropriate f-stop, shutter speeds and ISO settings; understand your camera’s controls and custom functions; learn how and when to use flash; discover how to get sharp, pleasing, successful photos.

*SUNSETS, BIRDS AND BEERSVan_1 Transit_1 PhotoOp_1 ScopeUseful_1 LunchBox_1 Icon-solo-beer-mug-jpgWC_1

with Clay Taylor
Sponsored by Swarovski Optik

Fee $150 / Thursday 2pm – 8pm

Spotting scope photo systems are really coming into their own and the options are expanding with camera and Smartphone pairings. Clay will cover it all on South Padre Island’s famous birding boardwalks that just happen to be perfectly situated for the Island’s lovely sunsets as well! Sunset shooting followed by dinner at a favorite SPI restaurant (hence the Beer).

Important!: Before registering, email Clay to discuss equipment owned and perhaps needed: [email protected]

Note: Trip will return to auditorium complex after the day’s Festival events are concluded and the complex will be locked.