Paul Denman's experience as a professional photographer was the driving force in developing the ranch to be photography-ready. He has superb technical knowledge of how the ranch operates. Paul has won numerous awards for his photography: In the 2005 Coastal Bend Wildlife Photo Contest, he and his father won First Grand Prize in the Digital category and Fourth in the Slide category. Again in 2007, he won Fifth Grand Prize. Paul is a retired educator; he is enthusiastic about wildlife, birding, photography, and guiding. He specializes in image optimization of photos.
Larry Ditto is a retired refuge manager from the National Wildlife Refuge System. He holds a bachelor's degree in Wildlife Science from Texas A&M University. Because of his familiarity with the plants and animals of south Texas he was able to help establish the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge on the Texas/Mexico border. He has been a full-time professional nature photographer since 1999, yet his work has been published for over 40 years.
He won first grand prize in the prestigious Valley Land Fund Photography Contest in 2000 and is regularly published in national magazines, books, and calendars including National Geographic Books, Far Country Press, Texas Parks & Wildlife, Texas Highways, Birds & Blooms, and more. Larry and Kathy Adams Clark captured the images for a recently published book titled "Texas - A Photographic Journey" from Far Country Press.
Melody Lytle is a retired biologist, formerly with the City of Austin's endangered species program. Her responsibilities included golden-cheeked warbler and black-capped vireo conservation, survey, and land management. She holds a master's degree in biology from the University of Texas at Austin. Melody has had experience with Photoshop and Lightroom since the advent of digital photography, and she has a breadth of experience in digital graphics and HTML computer programming.
Currently, she spends as much of her free time as possible in the field photographing landscape, plants, animals, and especially birds. She particularly loves crafting perches and photo setups. Her work has been well received in several contests, including 2014 Wildlife in Focus (Overall First in the Birds Category) and Denver Audubon's Share the View (First Place in 2013 and Highly Commended in 2014). Her publications include Adventure Publication's "Trees of Texas" and "Wildflowers of Texas."
~ Meet the Team ~
Ruth Hoyt is a guide, workshop/tour leader, writer, ranch consultant, and public speaker. Her certifications include Texas Master Naturalist and Interpretive Guide, both of which require ongoing training. Ruth is also an active, charter member of the North American Nature Photography Association.
She has taught photography for more than 20 years and has led tours and workshops for companies such as Kodak and agencies such as the National Parks system. A few of her photo credits include National Geographic Books, The Nature Conservancy and Birder's World, and she co-authored “Missouri: Simply Beautiful,” published by Far Country Press.
Ruth has won numerous awards for her photography including First Grand Prize with her partner/teammate, John Pickles, in the 2007 Coastal Bend Wildlife Photo Contest. Her work has been exhibited at the Smithsonian Institute, Missouri Botanical Garden, and several other locations in the Midwest and Texas.
Q: What is a guide's role?
A: The guide will allow you access to the ranch and help you become familiar with the ranch. They will share their knowledge while you photograph side-by-side.
Q: How can a guide be helpful?
A: Guides can assist photographers during photography sessions in the field. Photographers will learn more about nature and South Texas animal behavior and how to use it to improve their photography. Photographers will learn how to take advantage of light, how to shoot fill flash, how to select and position perches for birds, and how to improve photographs by shooting from the best angles and perspectives to get interesting photographs. The guide can also help you with your equipment and even offer advice in selecting additional equipment to improve and diversify your nature photography.
Q: What is the advantage to having a guide at Laguna Seca Ranch?
A: Most photographers will be somewhat unaccustomed to the weather, plants, and animals on the ranch. The guide will get you to the blind quickly so you don’t lose valuable time locating your blind. He or she can help you place photogenic perches and show you the best locations to place them, if you wish. There are tricks even to using various baits for attracting the maximum types and numbers of wildlife. He or she will help you spot and identify the various species you encounter and can assist you in anticipating various animal behaviors to help you be prepared for the best shots. If you need something you forgot to bring, it is likely the guide will have it. If you want to work certain species like lizards, snakes, tortoises, etc., a guide can be very helpful. A guide, of course, is always helpful with non-photography information. There is no substitute for having a local professional by your side when you are shooting in strange country.
Q: What can I expect at the ranch?
A: Our guides will provide you one-on-one photography instruction, set-up custom perches to draw in the maximum amount of wildlife, identify the local fauna, birds, and mammals that visit the pond areas, and provide professional image optimization instruction during a break that is typically taken during lunch time. Our guides are professional photographers who reside in South Texas and are extremely familiar with the ranch to enable you to get the maximum benefit from your visit. They will provide knowledge and techniques that could take years to gain on your own. From amateurs to professional photographers, you will be impressed with our guides' experience and knowledge.