l just spent three and (/2 days participating in the Images for Conservation Fund (lCF) http://www.imagesforconservation.org/ Pro-Am Photography Tournament in the lower Rio Grande Valley of Texas. The tournament takes 4-6 photographers of any level and teams them up with a professional coach and uses a local ranch which has been developed for nature and wildlife photography and the group competes with an other team that photographs at a different ranch,for three days. Every team member submits a certain number of digital images that will be judged by five independent judges from all over the country. The judges score each image from 1-10. The total of each images determines its rank for the day. There is a first, second and third place winner from all the participants and a team winner each day. There is also an overall team winner. There are cash prizes awarded.
I had the honor of having one of my photographs have the first perfect score in the history of the tournament -50 points out of 50 points.
My team was photographing at the Martin Refuge - The Javelina http://www.martinrefuge.com/ owned by John and Audrey Martin. It is 300 acres of thick, historic South Texas brush. It is set up with eight blinds that are situated for the best light. There are water features and feeders at all the locations.
Larry Ditto, a long time nature photographer was our coach, helping everyone with any of their camera settings and post-processing needs along with helping to set up the best perches so we could get the winning photo.
The only post processing allowed was dust removal and any other changes must be global. You could only crop 10%. No plug-ins allowed.
Everyone on my team won a prize. The ability of the group ranged from one member using a borrowed camera and lens to two of us that have been photographing for a long period of time.
I must say that we had a group off happy campers. (thanks Artie for the saying). Our day started by leaving the hotel at 6:30 AM, photographing as soon as the light allowed us to after we arrived at the Refuge.Returning back by around 12 Noon, eating, downloading and processing photos, picking
those photos to consider for the contest and then back to photograph from 4:00 PM until we lost the light. Then returning back to the hotel and repeat the above process. have a bite of supper, bed and we would then start all over in the morning.
The final day was a morning shoot and the lunch with the awards ceremony
The last afternoon people from both teams who wanted to were invited by John and Audrey to visit the Martin Refuge and photograph.
Thus ended a wonderful few days and event.
Some of the species we photographed were Caracara, both Vultures, Harris Hawk, Green Jay, Javelina and many more species.
If anyone is interested in photography in the Rio Grande Valley – I am thinking of leading a trip down between late April and Early June to catch the migrants plus the local species. If interested please -e-mail me email@example.com. All Abilities Welcome Total number of participants will be 6