Monday, January 3, 2022

The Rain Forest of Costa Rica: My favorite images from last month's trip

First and foremost, Happy New Year everyone! I hope that 2022 is so much better than 2020 and 2021 for all of us!

As many of you know, I lead photo tours to the rain forest of Costa Rica at least twice a year. normal times I do, but lately it has only been once a year. I am hoping that Covid will subside once and for all and we can all return to normal travel at some point. Last month, myself and 9 guests met up in Costa Rica for another great photo tour. 

I flew down a day early, to make sure that I arrived in time to meet all my guests. Since I had a free morning, my buddy Mauricio picked me up early and we drove out to see if we could get a clear view of the Poás Volcano. This volcano is still active. so prior to walking up to the viewing area, everyone had to watch a safety briefing letting us know where the safety bunkers were located, and grab a hard hat which had to be worn at all times.

The Poás Volcano is located up in the cloud forest, so there was no guarantee that we would see the crater. But as we climbed to the viewing area, we were happy to see at least some of the crater amongst the clouds.

They limit the viewing time to only 20 minutes per group, and luckily just 3 minutes after I took the first photo, the clouds cleared away from the top of the volcano giving us this magnificent view.

We were both shooting away getting our photos during this clear view, and then decided that it would make for a nice panorama shot. I combined 4 images to make this panorama in Photoshop. For all these photos, I was using the Canon R6 camera with the RF 24-105mm lens.

After we left the volcano, we drove further into the cloud forest and stopped at a couple of water falls. 

We then drove to the Blue Falls for a hike and more photos. 

The hike down was not easy and the hike up was even harder, but it was well worth it!

After climbing back up to the top of the waterfall, we rehydrated and then spent time photographing some of the local hummingbirds. For these shots, I decided to use the Canon R3 and the Canon RF 100-500mm lens. Look at the amazing color in these birds!

This hummingbird was flying right in front of a large leaf, and the sunlight was reflecting off the leaf and right onto the neck and throat of the bird. I took hundreds of photos of these fast flying birds to come away with 5 or 10 that I really liked.

And then it was time to fly down with the group to the Osa Peninsula to capture photos in the rain forest.

We arrived at the resort around 10:30am and I gave everyone time to get settled into their rooms. We had a nice lunch and then walked the property so that the guests could get the lay of the land. And, once again, the grounds of the resort did not disappoint. We saw Howler monkeys within minutes of the start of our walk. I saw this mother and baby and encouraged everyone to capture this great interaction.   

In all my trips to Costa Rica, I have never gotten a really tight shot of a toucan with a good background. On this first day, we were treated to this toucan low in a tree and right by the swimming pool. 

We were all taking really nice photos of the bird, when it decided to flip this nut in it's beak. I was shooting with the Canon R3 at a pretty fast frame rate (using the Canon RF 100-500mm lens), which allowed me to capture this split second of action. 

The next day we took our first drive out into the rain forest to see what we could find. We found more howler monkeys in the trees.

It is a lot of fun to capture these animals as they meander around the tree branches. It is also a great time for me to teach about exposure compensation and capturing images when there is catch light in the animal's eyes.

Right outside the restaurant where we ate most days, there are some bird feeders. The resort staff are nice enough to put out papaya for the birds. This allows us to capture really nice images just feet from our table. And yes, it was a big distraction when you have a bunch of photographers trying to eat, while having great subjects flying in and out at all times.

On every photo tour to Costa Rica, I make sure that we have at least one day of macro photography. If you have read my blog before, you know that I absolutely love the red eyed tree frogs.

This time around, I decided to try something different, so I used the Canon R6 with the Canon RF 100-500mm lens instead of a Canon 100mm macro lens. This allowed me to get nice tight shots, but also stand back so that my guests could get in close with their macro lenses.

The long zoom lens still let me get up close and personal with the frogs. I love the way this tree frog was at the end of this leaf and looking right at me.

We are photographing these frogs and snakes at a reptile area. The handler is taking care of the snakes while we have fun photographing them from afar. I love capturing images of this Eye-lash viper with it's tongue out. 

On our fifth day, we took boats over to the animal rehab sanctuary. 

This is always a favorite for my guests, since they can get really close to the Macaw and other animals.

This young Squirrel monkey was hanging out in a nearby tree and watching our every move.

This 3-month old howler monkey is a new addition to the sanctuary, and the first time I have ever been so close to this species.

Towards the end of our time in the rain forest, we drove to the Sierpe River for a river boat tour. This was a good spot for a group photo.

This is a great place to see animals in the water, on the shoreline and in the surrounding trees. We saw this large iguana sunning itself along the river.

There were lots of birds flying around us.

And speaking of animals flying...check out this video of these squirrel monkeys who were making the long jump from tree to tree. It was awesome to watch their strength and accuracy.

On our last day, we went to an area where they have numerous sloths on the property. The first sloth we saw was pretty high in a tree.

We did get to see this three-toed sloth which came down pretty low.

The sloths happen to be on the property owned by the grandfather of our guide, Dennis. And they have a parrot on the property as well. I was photographing the parrot when it fanned out its wings for a split second. The colors are amazing.

We took a break from shooting and had some amazing homemade lemonade and snacks, hoping that some of the sloths would come down low while we were away from them. And that plan worked out just great!

This three-toed sloth was almost down at eye level when we returned to check its location. 

This was one of the last photos I took on this trip, and it is one of my favorites. I love the position of the sloth's hands and feet, the look on it's face. Everyone had a blast photographing these docile animals up close and personal. It was an awesome way to wrap up the tour.

I do have two more photo tours to Costa Rica in 2022 (only 3 spots left) and I just added two more for 2023. If you are interested in joining me on one of these trips, let me know. You can see all these (and contact me) HERE.


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1 comment:

OnlyInCA said...

Brings back some great memories! Dynamite sloth pictures--wish we had had those photo ops! May have to go back. LOL
Catherine D