Texas Photo Safari

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Hillingdon Ranch: David Langford chronicles the heart of the Texas Hill Country

Congratulations to our good friend David Langford on his beautiful new book, Hillingdon Ranch: Four Seasons, Six Generations, published by Texas A&M as an example of successful, multi-generational land use strategies. It is great to see his amazing photos from a historic piece of Texas. For those intrigued by the area and its history, our May Texas Hill Country Bird & Scenic Photo Safari is actually on a ranch that was a part of the Hillingdon Ranch until our hosts Larry and Sharron Jay purchased it from the family, so we hope you can join us…

Harris Hawk image from our Rio Grande Valley Texas Photo Safari announced as Grand Prize winner in 2012 NWF Photo Contest

bi_harrishawk_0370We’re pleased to learn that our image of two Harris Hawks fighting has been awarded the Grand Prize in the 2012 National Wildlife Federation photo contest – winning against over 28,000 other images. I captured the image on one of our Rio Grande Valley photo safaris, which are always an awesome opportunity to get unique images of hard-to-find species like Harris Hawks and Crested Caracara along with many colorful woodland species and migrants. I’ll be leading another trip back there this year, featuring the award-winning Dos Venadas and Campos Viejos ranches, so I hope you can join me. You never know whether you’ll get a prize-winning image of your own – we’ll certainly do our best to help you with plenty of 1-1 instruction, image critiques as desired, and prime shooting locations.

For more on the Harris Hawk image and full contest results, NWF is featuring them on their website, and you can get a Hawk of your own by purchasing our 2013 calendar. Read more »

Bird photo blinds: Studios or Habitats?

This Summer Tanager was photographed in a tree along the Guadalupe River, without using a blind or artificial perch of any type.Having just returned from two weeks of really fun and very productive photography on some of the best private ranches in south Texas, I’ve had a lot of time to think and rethink about the design of the bird blinds we used, and some of the others we saw in use. In this case I’m not talking about the physical blind structures where we, the photographers, sit. That part of the blinds has continued to evolve for the better over the six plus years I’ve been shooting there. They are more comfortable and better positioned than ever. No, in this case I’m talking about the part of the blind where the real action is, the “stage” where birds and mammals hopefully appear and are photographed… Read more »

Using Iris Blur in Photoshop CS6 to direct attention

djc_6713cOne of the niftiest new filters in Photoshop’s bag of tricks is the Iris Blur filter. It mimics the behavior of limited depth of field by blurring the image outside a customizable “iris” shape. As usual, Photoshop provides plenty of options for controlling the radius of the non-blurred area (both an inner “hot spot” and outer "total effect” area), the shape of the iris, and the amount of focusing you want within the iris. Unlike using a wide-open aperture on your camera to blur the background, Photoshop doesn’t “know” which objects are close or far, so you need to craft the shape of the iris yourself. Fortunately Photoshop also lets you add multiple different iris blurs to create effects that would not be possible with a camera… Read more »

From birds to blooms in the Texas Hill Country

djc_6619Our Texas Hill Country photo workshop drew to a close today with a full day of photography. We started this morning in the excellent blinds at BCNA, with our co-hosts Larry and Sharron Jay making sure we not only had a great breakfast, but were well set up for the arrival of the sun and songbirds. Read more »