Thursday, August 10, 2023

Capturing images of Scarlet Macaw in the rain forest of Costa Rica

I know this is crazy, but I have made 3 trips to the rain forest of Costa rica in the last 9 months and have not blogged any of the images. Heck, it is one of my favorite places to take photos, so I need to share these with all of you. 

For today, I am going to focus (pun intended) on the Scarlet Macaw. I personally think that this is one of the most beautiful birds to photograph. We see them every day on my photo tours to the Osa Peninsula, but getting them low and in an unobstructed view is a little more of a challenge. Getting great shots of them in flight is even more of a challenge. Every time I head down to the Osa I challenge myself to get better photos of these amazing birds.

I teach my guests to try and get photos of the animals without harsh light in the background. In this case, we had a couple of macaw hanging out in outer part of a tree, and the light was perfect. We had overcast skies which acted like a giant soft box in the sky. As nice as this image is, I have always wanted to get good shots of these birds in flight.

I captured this photo of this macaw with a nut in his mouth (which I really like), but the challenge with scarlet macaw is that photographing them from below means that we do not see all the great colors on their backs. 

On my most recent photo tour we came across 6 macaw that were taking turns grabbing nuts from this one tree. Once again, the light was perfect. 

We found a nearby slope which gave us a higher vantage point, and all we had to do was set our cameras properly and wait for them to grab a nut and fly off.  

I was using my Canon R5 with the Canon RF100-500mm lens. Since most of my guests were using similar gear (on free loan from Canon) I recommended that everyone set their cameras to a fast burst mode, animal detection for focus, ISO 3200, at f/7.1, and a shutter speed of 1/2000 sec. For those of you wondering why we were at f/7.1, this is the best aperture the Canon RF100-500mm lens will do at 500mm. Once set, we waited for the jump.

We all had a great time capturing images as they grabbed their food and then departed. It was so predictable. 

There was one spot where the birds would fly and the background was all far away, and dark. This gave us great separation between the bird and the foliage in the background.

Like an air traffic controller, I would call out to my photo tour guests just as the birds were about to take off.

Just as the macaw would push away from the tree, we would all fire our cameras in high speed, hoping to get great color and action. I think I took more than 500 images during this time, but I know one of my guests (you know who you are Jason 😀), took many thousands!

These last two photos and some of my favorites. I love that we were able to get a high enough position to be at eye level with the birds, and really see the colors in their feathers. As always, I look forward to the next trip to see if we get even better photos of these colorful beauties.

As I mentioned in the last blog post, my trips to Costa Rica are sold out for 2023, but I just added new photo tours for 2024. You can find those on the tour page.

Tease - My next blog post with images from Costa Rica will feature something new and really exciting!


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IanW said...

Jeff, I noticed from the group photo on your previous blog that Diego was there but not Dennis. Is he still at Botanic or is he working for his grandfather and/or Back Country Tours?

Kind Regards

Ian Woodrow

Jeff Cable Photography Blog said...

Ian - Dennis is not working directly for Crocodile Bay anymore, but I still contract him. He was out sick on the day that I took this photo.

daniel lisa said...
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Noor Jahan said...
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