2016 ” South Texas Private Ranch” Photo Tour

May 1-4, 2016

Cost: $2195  / Deposit:$500

Limited to 6 participants (3 spots remaining)  •  Leaves from McAllen, TX


I’ve been an advocate of promoting nature photography on private lands for many years from my association with John Martin. John created the Valley Land Fund and Images for Conservation organizations. His goal has been to show ranchers and land owners that their land is worth preserving and that they can realize an income stream through nature photography.  Through his tireless efforts a thriving nature photography industry has developed in South Texas.  The advantages of photographing on private lands are enormous.

On this tour we’ll be visiting one of the premier ranches in South Texas for nature photography the Santa Clara.  The ranch is located in the Rio Grande Valley near McCook TX.  The ranch is owned and operated by Dr. Beto Gutierez a fine nature photographer himself.  Though small by Texas standards the 300 acre ranch has a tremendous diversity of birds and wildlife.  This is virgin South Texas brush country that has never seen the plow.  The native plant life on the ranch attracts a profusion on native wildlife as well as resident and migratory birds.

By consulting with wildlife biologists and professional photographers Beto has strategically placed comfortable pit blinds and waterholes that provide the photographers great wildlife viewing and photographic opportunities. The low angle afforded by the pit blinds gives the images wonderful backgrounds.  Santa Clara even has a 2 story raptor blind that give the photographer a choice of backgrounds, blue sky or out of focus vegetation.  Wildlife is protected on the ranch so they go about their business without disturbance.  In one day you could easily photograph 20 or more bird species and animals such as whitetail deer, javelina, bobcats, coyotes, ground squirrels and rabbits.  You will also be able to photograph reptiles and amphibians at the waterhole blinds.

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Day 1:   (April 30th) Arrive in McAllen Texas.  Tour participants should make their way to the ranch that afternoon and try to arrive by 5pm.  The ranch is located 28 miles from the McAllen International Airport. Directions to the ranch will be provided and car sharing can be arranged.  That evening we’ll meet for a welcome dinner at 6pm and discussion of our upcoming photo adventure.

Days 2-5: (May 1-4th) We’ll spend the next 4 days photographing  from a variety of blinds strategically location around the ranch. Our daily locations within may vary in accordance to animal activity and weather conditions.  The ranch has blinds that work for morning light and others for evening light.  We will meet early for breakfast and then head out to take advantage of the best lighting conditions and animal activity. Our goal is for you to take home the best photographs that conditions will allow.

Following our afternoon shoot on the final day May 8th.  We’ll load up for our return trip to McAllen TX.  I’ll have a block of rooms reserved for the night in McAllen, it would be best to overnight and schedule flights home on May 5th.

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Equipment: We recommend a minimum of  a 300mm telephoto lens for this tour.  A lens n the 500-600mm range would be ideal I n addition to a  wide angle to normal zoom and a mid range zoom like a 70-200mm would be useful. You will want to bring along a couple of flash cards and a means to download images when cards get full. We always suggest you bring along 2 camera bodies if possible in case of equipment failure. A tripod and a good ballhead or gimbal head is strongly encouraged.

Clothing: Clothing should be comfortable and adequately cover a full range of weather conditions and temperatures. Expect everything from warm and sunny temperatures into the 80’s.or even the 90’s.  In the mornings temperatures will likely be in the 50-60’s so we recommend layering clothing.  A sturdy yet light weight, comfortable hiking boot is suggested.

The cost of this tour includes 4 nights lodging, all meals, and field and transportation after reaching the ranch.

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GROUP MINIMUM: Occasionally, we are able to run a tour below our group minimum which is usually 4.  In such instances it may be necessary to apply a small group supplement fee in which case you would be contacted regarding such a situation but you would not be obligated to accept the new terms.

RESERVATIONS: Your $500 deposit is required to secure your place on any tour, with the balance due 60 days prior to the departure date. Deposits are fully refundable if cancellation is received at least 120 days prior to the departure date.  Upon receipt of your deposit, we will mail you our acknowledgment and tour reservation form. Details of hotels, flight arrival recommendations, and other trip tips will be mailed when the tour is full.

MEALS: All meals and refreshments are included once at the ranch but not alcoholic beverages.


About your Tour Leader

D. Robert Franz have been full time professional wildlife photographer for the past twenty five years.  With formal training and university degrees in wildlife management, geology and earth science, Robert has an extensive knowledge of the natural world. His nature and wildlife photography has been extensively published (over ten thousand published images including hundreds of front covers) worldwide with images featured in, Audubon Magazine, National Wildlife, Sierra Magazine, Smithsonian Magazine, Defenders Magazine, National Geographic, Das Tier Magazine, Sports Afield, Field and Stream, and many more. Their photographic prints have hung in the Smithsonian and the United States Congress.  They are also accomplished assignment photographers specializing in nature and environmental issues. Clients have included Adolph Coors, Wildlife Conservation Society, Field and Stream Magazine, The Trust for Public Lands, Via Magazine, Greater Yellowstone Coalition and others. Their photography is represented by a number of the worlds leading stock photo agencies such as Corbis, Getty Images, Alamy, Windigo Images, Okapia and Index Stock Imagery.

Robert has won many awards for his nature photography over the years. In 1989 Robert won the Colorado Outdoors Magazine Nature Photography Contest. In 1993 he won the Wyoming Wildlife Magazines Nature Photography Contest. Also in 1993 Robert and Lorri won an award for a published calendar image from the Roger Tory Peterson Institute of Natural History. In 2001 and 2004 Robert had winning images the prestigious Nature’s Best photography contest. In 2003 Robert won Image of the Year for Nature Photographers.net. In 2006, 2008 and again in 2010 Robert finished 2nd in the Images for Conservation Pro Tour of Nature Photography contest held in different locations in Texas. This is the world’s most challenging nature photo contest.   In 2007 Digital Photography Magazine proclaimed Robert as one the worlds best wildlife photographers.

Robert has been leading photo tours since 1989 and now conducts high energy nature & wildlife photo tours through Franzfoto Instructional Tours. In the past Robert lead tours for Wildlife Images Photo Tours, Voyagers, Natural Habitat Adventures & Close Up Expeditions.  Robert, his wife Lorri and their Great Dane Shelby live in the heart of the Greater Yellowstone Ecosystem near Cody Wyoming.



CANCELLATION POLICY:  Due to the high number of cancellations we’ve received in the past several years a new refund policy has been implemented.

  • Cancellations more than 120 days ahead of the tour are refunded minus a $50 handling charge.
  • Cancellations between 60-120 days ahead of the tour will be refunded if the spot can be filled.
  • Cancellations less than 60 days ahead of the tour are non-refundable.

Franzfoto Tours strongly suggest that tour participants invest in trip cancellation insurance.

CANCELED EXPEDITIONS: In the event of insufficient tour sign‐ups, Franzfoto Tours reserves the right to cancel any given tour. In that event 100% of moneys received will be returned. However, Franzfoto Tours is not responsible for expenses incurred by its customers.

SMOKERS: Smoking is not permitted at meals or in vehicles. It may be permitted at photo stops where local ordinances permit, photography and photographers are not affected.

RESPONSIBILITY: Franzfoto Tours and its agents act only as agents for the passenger in all matters relating to travel arrangements, and as such, do not assume responsibility for injury, accident, damage, loss, delay or irregularity which may occur via defect of transportation or any other cause. Franzfoto Tours reserves the right to substitute hotels, and other previously outlined arrangements as necessary, to either improve or equal the travel experience. Franzfoto Tours reserves the right to pass on to tour members any additional and unplanned expenditure incurred during a tour, via events beyond Franzfoto Tours control. The right is reserved to accept or decline any person as a member of any tour.  Payment of tour fees by trip participants constitutes their acceptance of all conditions contained herein.

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