Thursday, December 18, 2014

Costa Rica - Day 5 - Another awesome day of photographing monkeys sloths and more!

It was our fifth day in Costa Rica trip, and our first day visiting Manuel Antonio National Park. Unlike our previous locations in Costa Rica, this area was much warmer and had a lot more humidity. And luckily, we had clear skies with no rain.

Upon entering the park, we were stopped by countless people trying to get us to pay for parking and hire a guide. Even though this was a bit of a "hard sell" approach, we did stop and hire someone to guide us through the park. Having walked through the forest in Monte Verde without seeing much wildlife, we were hopeful that having a guide would add to our experience in Manuel Antonio. Our guide, Jorge, spoke good English and proved to be a valuable asset for the day. If it wasn't for him, we would have missed 90% of our day's photo opportunities.

My main gear for this day was the Canon 1DX, and 100-400mm lens.

Now...join me as I take you through our first day in this National Park. It was a photographic bonanza!

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 390mm, ISO 2500, f/5.6, 1/200 sec)

We entered the park and walked along the trail, often stopping for our guide to show us creatures that were hidden in the trees and leaves. This lizard was hanging out on one of the large leaves, and we photographed him from the side. But when I walked under the tree and saw the silhouette of his body, with his face peeking out, I preferred this composition. This is one of my favorite shots from the trip.

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 285mm, ISO 2500, f/5.6, 1/20 sec)

Here is another creature that our guide spotted, that I would have never seen.

After seeing lots of reptiles, I was wondering if we would see any monkeys. I woke up to the sounds of Howler Monkeys coming through my hotel windows, and was hoping to see some of these guys.

And then, we walked down to the beach and picnic area and saw some raccoons scouring for food.

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 400mm, ISO 2500, f/5.6, 1/200 sec)

Just after shooting this photo of a raccoon, I looked up to see a couple of white-faced monkeys on the tree 10 feet from me. I was VERY excited to photograph these primates in the wild.

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 400mm, ISO 2500, f/5.6, 1/640 sec)

I quickly focused and started shooting photos of this guy in the tree. I was not sure how long they would stick around, and wanted to get some nice shots of them.

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 330mm, ISO 1000, f/5.6, 1/160 sec)

I moved around the tree to different positions, which gave me different backgrounds. In this case, I had foliage far in the background which helped me isolate the monkey.

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 275mm, ISO 2000, f/5.6, 1/160 sec)

And then it got even better, when this adult monkey showed up with a baby on her back. Most of you know that I am really passionate about my photography, but you should have seen me at this point. I was in photographic heaven. :)

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 370mm, ISO 2000, f/5.6, 1/250 sec)

I think I was moving around more than the monkeys (but not swinging from any trees).

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 275mm, ISO 1250, f/5.6, 1/1250 sec)

The baby stuck out it's tongue. I don't think this was directed at me, but...

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 400mm, ISO 1250, f/5.6, 1/1000 sec)

This is one of my favorite photos of the monkeys, with this adult hanging out on a tree branch, seemingly checking out the scene.

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 250mm, ISO 1250, f/5.6, 1/100 sec)

Here are four photos taken within seconds of each other. I just love the bond between the two primates.

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 370mm, ISO 1250, f/5.6, 1/1560 sec)

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 400mm, ISO 1250, f/5.6, 1/160 sec)

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 285mm, ISO 1250, f/5.6, 1/80 sec)

Look closely at the baby in this shot. Doesn't it's face look like that of an old man?

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 180mm, ISO 1250, f/5.6, 1/125 sec)

Here is a wide shot showing how they use their tails to grab the tree.

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 180mm, ISO 1250, f/5.6, 1/125 sec)

This is a crop of the previous photo. This is a good example how a crop of an image can tell a completely different story. No tail in this shot, but a great back-to-back pose from my subjects.

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 220mm, ISO 1250, f/5.6, 1/100 sec)

As soon as I saw these three monkeys grouped like this on the tree branch, I quickly zoomed out and framed this shot. Yep, more favorite photos!

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 220mm, ISO 1250, f/5.6, 1/100 sec)

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 275mm, ISO 1250, f/5.6, 1/160 sec)

This monkey yawned, and I focused quick enough to grab the sot. No, those are some teeth!

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 400mm, ISO 1250, f/5.6, 1/250 sec)

Good photography means that you are always ready to capture the scene unfolding in front of you. In this case, the monkeys were on the move, and making their way from one tree to another. I waited for them to be in between both trees and got this shot.

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 400mm, ISO 160, f/5.6, 1/640 sec)

After shooting hundreds of photos of the monkeys, someone pointed out this iguana that was near the beach. He was in perfect light, so I walked around to the bright side of the reptile and shot this.

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 210mm, ISO 2500, f/5.6, 1/160 sec)

We decided to hike farther down the trail along the edge of the beach, as we had a couple of the white-faced friends follow along with us.

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 275mm, ISO 2500, f/5.6, 1/200 sec)

And yes, I could not help myself, and kept shooting more photos of the baby.

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 320mm, ISO 1600, f/5.6, 1/40 sec)
As we hiked back to where we started, we passed another raccoon who was resting on this log. We have raccoons where I live, but you rarely see them during the day. This was a nice chance to get a photo of this animal up close and in good light.

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 400mm, ISO 2500, f/5.6, 1/250 sec)
We then hiked back away from the beach and deeper into the forest. Once again, we found some cool reptiles.

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 285mm, ISO 640, f/5.6, 1/160 sec)
At one point, we stopped for water, and I looked up to the see this spider web. If we had been in this spot 30 minutes before or 30 minutes after, this scene would not have presented itself this way, but we were lucky, with the sunlight perfectly hitting the web.

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 400mm, ISO 640, f/5.6, 1/200 sec)

Before going to Costa Rica, I had never even heard of a sloth. But after searching for one for many hours, it was cool to finally see one of these strange creatures. It was a good thing that I had the Canon 100-400mm lens, since this guy was really high in the tree. BTW, you can tell that this is a male, since only the male sloth's have this striped pattern on their backs. (Photographer's note: Since the sloth was surrounded by so much open sky, it was hard to meter him correctly. In evaluative metering mode, which most cameras are defaulted to, the bright sky would cause the sloth to be a silhouette. So I changed the metering mode of the camera to spot metering to make sure that the sloth was properly exposed. I knew that the sky would blow out, but that was a trade-off I was willing to make in order to get the sloth lit correctly.)

(Canon 1DX, Canon 100-400mm lens at 400mm, ISO 640, f/5.6, 1/100 sec)

Here is another shot of the sloth up high in the tree. I swear that this animal looks like bigfoot.

On day 2, when I photographed the tree frog, I thought that I had already hit the highlight of my trip. But having a chance to photograph the monkeys in the wild was equally exciting to me. At this point, I could have gone home happy, knowing that I had some cool photos for my collection. But we still had one more day.

Stay tuned for the blog of our 6th and final day in Costa Rica.


If you are interested in purchasing any camera equipment, please click here to go to B&H Photo, as I get a referral from them if you enter this way. I would really appreciate that.



Nancy Kissack said...

Glad to see someone took as many pictures as I did!! Aren't they a kick?? I was lucky enough to get images of a sloth eating. That just about filled my card!! Howlers make great alarm clocks. Check out the spiders too. Huge!!!

Cynthia Brown said...

Dear Jeff, ~ You continue to regale us with these sublime images! "I wish I were there" becomes "I wonder what he'll see next" as you hunt for and find such captivating subjects with us viewers by your side.

danielkehoe said...

Hey Jeff, Bet you wish you had your tripod for some of the shots, It's pretty dim in the jungle. I take it you had the lens locked on 5.6. D.O.F.
is pretty bad at 400 in that light but your focus point was really good. Keep these blogs coming. I really look forward to them.

Daniel Kehoe

Unknown said...

Couldn't help noticing the range of ISO's and shutter speeds with the same F-stop, and they're ALL so perfect!
Found myself saying wow out loud, over and over.

Anonymous said...

Jeff, Were you using flash on those imagines? I was afraid that the fill flash would scare off the animals. You got some great photos. We didn't see half of what you saw. I am enjoying your images.

st.louis said...

Wonderful shots!

Carl said...

Some fantastic shots here Jeff.

Like a couple of the other commenters, I'm surprised how well you got decently sharp images without a tripod (unless I missed something and you had one?) and with a non-IS lens.

Iguana 1/20s @ 285mm.
Monkeys 1/80s @ 285mm.
Raccoon 1/40s @ 320mm.

Slow shutter speeds to hand-hold at those focal lengths and with potentially moving animals.

It just enforces what a great photographer you are!