by Don Laine
Those who attend RMOWP conferences or even look at the winning photographs from the annual contest are well acquainted with Santa Clara Ranch, a wildlife photography retreat in South Texas owned by longtime RMOWP members Beto and Clare Gutierrez and managed by another RMOWP member, professional photographer Hector Astorga.
The ranch’s wildlife, as photographed by Astorga, is the highlight of a new book, Wildlife in Focus VII. The book contains winning images from the Wildlife in Focus annual contest, in which Hector took overall first place honors as well as numerous firsts in individual categories.
The contest covers the 32 counties surrounding Corpus Christi, Texas, with photographers teaming up with landowners to get the best wildlife photos possible, and at the same time to promote conservation and publicize the need for the protection of South Texas’s wildlife and wildlife habitat.
Santa Clara Ranch is a 300-acre wildlife sanctuary, with strategically placed pit blinds and water holes where nature photographers can capture images of numerous species of birds, mammals, and reptiles. There is no hunting permitted and no agricultural activity takes place.