Thursday, November 30, 2017

Costa Rica - The last couple of days in the rain forest photographing SO much wildlife!

Most of what we photograph during my photo tours in Costa Rica are animals in the wild. But on a couple of the days, I take the group to locations where we can photograph some of the wildlife in a more controlled environments. On one of these controlled days, we visited a sanctuary where animals are rescued and rehabilitated. And since I have been to this sanctuary before, I had a good feeling we would be spending time with my friend Sweetie.


Sweetie is a Spider monkey who was rescued when she was just a baby. She has lived in the sanctuary for her entire life and is very used to people. This allows us the opportunity to photograph her with ease.


And she is a total ham and loves people and the camera.

We took a 30 minute boat ride to the sanctuary, since it is the only way to get there. There are no roads to this part of Costa Rica, We arrived on the beach, and just like my last visit, Sweetie was on the beach waiting for us.


Since we could go right up to Sweetie, I could even use the Canon 100-400mm lens to take a photo looking down at her.


What a poser!


The reason that these monkeys are called Spider monkeys is due to their extremely long arms and hands. You can really see that in this photo!


We got up close and personal with parrots too.


Even though we had seen numerous sloths in the wild, it was fun to get into a cage with three of the Two-toed sloths and get some tight shots of them.


I almost didn't bother shooting photos in this caged area, since it was so dark. But at the last minute I decided to push the ISO of my Canon 5D Mark IV to 6400 and got this photo (which is one of my favorites from the trip). I am totally amazed out how clean this image is, even at ISO 6400.


No, this is not an old photo from "Gilligan's Island", this is a photo of our group.


After visiting the sanctuary, we went to a botanical garden, which is actually the front and back of a private home. The owners have spent the last 30+ years building and maintaining these amazing gardens.


It was a great place to key in on butterflies, birds and flowers.


I thought that this was a multicolored bamboo, but it is not. It is actually a palm tree. Regardless, it is so cool to see these colors in the trunk of a plant.


We were walking the property when some of our guests spotted this Parrot eating in a tree above us.


That evening we took the hour long boat ride back to the resort for another nice dinner. At dinner, I asked our guides if we could do another tree frog shoot and they readily agreed. These guys are amazing at finding these little gems in the surrounding plants.


When I was in Costa Rica in August (for the trial run of the photo tour) the guides found some tree frogs to shoot, but we did not have great lights. This time around, I was prepared, and brought some little LED lights.  We took turns holding two lights to properly light the frog, while the others took photos. And, as you can see, the photos came out better than we thought they would.


Jose (one of the guides) spotted this tiny snake on one of the nearby plants and asked us if we wanted to photograph it. We were already shooting with our Canon 100mm macro lenses and moved to their plant to get some shots. This snake looks pretty large in the photo, but was really quite small. The body was almost as thin as a worm.

The next day we woke up and headed out for another drive into the rain forest, looking for monkeys and more.


We spotted some White-faced monkeys jumping from one tree to another. I was happy to catch this mid-air shot. (Photographer's note: For these types of shots, it is imperative to use spot metering. I teach this technique during the workshop so that everyone is able to properly catch photos like this on the trip.)


Not far from the White-face monkeys, we came across some Howler monkeys and their babies. I stood right below this one and shot straight up on her and the baby.


Another parent and baby Howler. I loved how the tail of the adult curves through the frame.


It was a good monkey day for us, as we then found a pack of Spider monkeys hanging around (pun intended).

The next day was our last full day on the Osa Peninsula. I woke up early and heard a bunch of Scarlet Macaw outside my room. I could not resist the temptation and decided to get up and photograph these birds once again.


It still amazes me that these birds fly around the resort in the wild.


Walking the property, I even came across another Crocodile who was swimming in the nearby river. I loved the reflection of his mouth in the water and grabbed this shot.

Then we were off to a chocolate plantation for a tour and lunch, followed up by a visit to a new butterfly house.


The butterfly house was still under construction, but they had a couple of species there for us to photograph.



Awesome colors and patterns!


Since Canon is nice enough to loan cameras and lenses to all my workshop attendees, we all had Canon 100mm macro lenses to get in tight on these insects.


The people who run the Interactive Gardens also found a Green Iguana for us to photograph.


This iguana was very cooperative, and let us get nice tight shots of him before he moved on.


Look at the detail in the head of the iguana. The 100mm macro lens is so darned sharp! I had never photographed the green iguana this close before, and was very happy to have these photos for my collection.

The next morning, we all packed up and flew out, heading back to the U.S. for Thanksgiving. It was sad to leave this amazing place, but we all had a great time together, making new friends and getting killer images.

If you are interested in joining me in Costa Rica, check out this web page for more information. We have 4 remaining spots for the trip next August, and then two more trips in 2019 which will be announced soon.

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