Great Green Macaws are coming back from the brink of extinction in Costa Rica due to conservation efforts. I took this portrait of a wild individual in northern Costa Rica. The soft light and thoughtful expression conveys to me the feeling of hope that the species will indeed survive!
A Great Blue Heron devours a catfish as sun streams through a mangrove forest on the Pacific Coast of Costa Rica
The intense blue colors of the icebergs on Grey Lake in the Torres del Paine National Park, Chile were fascinating. I used a long lens to isolate the colors and tones of these shimmering natural sculptures.
Canon 5DsR, Sigma 150-600 mm contemporary zoom lens, handheld, f/8, 1/800, ISO 400
I'd had this type of shot in mind for a while and in fact had even simulated it in Costa Rica and Ecuador with a multi-flash studio setup. I was thrilled when the opportunity to capture a scene with natural light presented itself in the highlands of Costa Rica at the very end of a rare sunny day. This is a Talamanca Hummingbird (Eugenes spectabilis).
Canon 1DxII, Canon 600 mm f/4, tripod, f/5.6, 1/6400, ISO 100
Mountains, Grey Lake, Torres del Paine National Park, Chile
Directional sunlight filtering through the trees on the outskirts of a rainforest in northern Costa Rica allowed me to capture this dramatic image of a Collared Aracari (Pteroglossus torquatus).
This is one of my favorite photos -- not because it won an award in the prestigious BBC/Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year competition (though that was nice!) - but because it's a shot that I think most photographers would have passed up. For me, the poor cloudy light, the silhoutted subject, and the relatively uninteresting bird species (a gray-headed chachalaca) were precisely what caught my eye and allowed me to produce a very different bird photograph!
cloud forest portrait
The title of this picture speaks to the fact that I think it looks like a studio type shot, though I took it out in nature. I exposed for my subject and added just a touch of fill-flash for this portrait of an acorn woodpecker at the end of the day in a cloud forest in Costa Rica's Talamanca Mountains. The white background comes from the thick clouds flowing through the valley!
Canon 5DsR, Sigma 150-600 mm zoom lens, fill-flash, tripod, f/8, 1/200, ISO 1600
FOLLOW THE SUN
Parlor palms grow in the understory. Steam from a natural volcanic vent in the forest of the Rincon de la Vieja National Park in Costa Rica separated the palms from the chaotic vegetation normally visible.
FROG DREAMS 1
A nocturnal red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas) is bathed in the rainforest starlight in northern Costa Rica. This image, a dream of mine for the past few years, was chosen as the cover of my coffee table book on the natural wonders of Costa Rica. Interestingly, there was some controversy over choosing the photo because a number of people involved in the book publishing and distribution thought it was a product of Photoshop. It's not -- it's the product of in-camera creativity!
Canon 5D Mark III, Sigma 20 mm lens, one off-camera flash, tripod, cable release, f/2.8, 20 seconds, ISO 2000
The interactions between wild macaws are fascinating. Adolescents like these juvenile scarlet macaws photographed in the northern lowlands of Costa Rica are much like human teenagers, tumbling and wrestling with their friends and siblings. Diffused sunlight and a shaded background for a dramatic image of these two juvenile scarlet macaws (Ara macao).
Costa Rica's Poas Volcano boasts the second largest active volcano crater in the world. Though impressive to see, the spots from which to photograph the crater are very limited; it's hard to produce a picture of the Poas Volcano that doesn't look pretty much like every other picture. By using a netural density filter, a graduated filter, and off-camera fill-flash, I was able to create a dreamlike black and white image that looks quite a bit different than the other pictures out there!
Helmeted iguana (Corytophanes cristatus) on the banks of a lowland rainforest stream, Costa Rica. I'm always on the lookout for strong compositions and dramatic natural light. I was absolutely thrilled to be able to capture this image under a lightly cloudy sky that gave a chiaroscuro look to the scene.
Canon 5DsR, Canon 16-35 mm f/4 zoom, polarizer, tripod, cable release, f/8, 3.2 seconds, ISO 100
Emerald glass frog (Centrolenella prosoblepon) on skeletonized Piper sp. (black pepper family) leaf, a common plant in the Costa Rican tropical forest understory. I took this image of this amazing nocturnal frog at night in a cloud forests on the outskirts of the Juan Castro Blanco National Park in Costa Rica's Central Volcanic Mountain Range. The image, which goes beyond the standard frog shot, caught the eye of the judges and won the "Art in Nature" category of one of the two most important nature photography competitions in the world, the Nature's Best Windland Smith Rice contest.
A Guanaco (Lama guanicoe), one of the wild relatives of the Llama and Alpaca, rests on top of a hillside in Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. I took this shot about 2 hours before sunrise, meaning the sun was extremely bright. Exposure, focus, and composition were a challenge because I could not look through my camera for fear of damaging my eyes and my camera sensor. I focused manually and then swung my camera up and shot a burst with my eyes closed.
Canon 5DsR, Sigma 150-600 mm zoom lens, handheld, f/22, 1/8000, ISO 50
The Art of Botany 4
A graphic shot of tree fern and palm leaves in a cloud forest in Western Ecuador is a reminder of how nature produces art based on mathematical proportions and symmetry. I purposefully overexposed the sky on a typically misty day in the cloud forest to produce this graphic composition.
A king vulture (Sarcoramphus papa) takes a break from eating as the afternoon sun glints off the wing of one of the numerous black vultures sharing a carcass in Costa Rica.
The King Vulture is larger than Costa Rica's other vultures, and the king generally gets his way when a group is feeding. I shot from a very low angle and used the widest aperture (f/2.8) on my lens to set the bird off against the forest and the black vultures that were waiting their turn to feed. I titled this shot "Vulture Dreams." What is this King Vulture dreaming of? We probably don't want to know!
Black vultures dry their wings as a shaft of sunlight breaks through the clouds after the first heavy thunderstorm of the rainy season. By exposing properly for the white parts of the wing, I knew that the rest of the picture would be almost black, producing a striking graphic design.
A beautiful little rainforest weevil on a fern leaf proves that the treasures of the rainforest sometimes come in very small packages.
Reticulated glass (Hyalinobatrachium valerioi) frog guarding egg mass in lowland rainforest.
Canon 5DII, Sigma 150 mm macro, handheld, f/16, 1/160, ISO 320, one off-camera flash
abstract closeup of a butterfly wing (on a live butterfly)
order from chaos
While shooting in a forest remnant in Costa Rica's Central Valley, I encountered these colorful ferns. I tried some images with a sharp focal point but ended up liking this totally abstract rendering best.
late afternoon light hits vines trailing in a small stream in the Tenorio Volcano National Park
I used a small headlamp to backlight this cluster of baby spiders that I found in a lowland rainforest in northern Costa Rica. I took the image after noticing the amazing colors of the web that appeared when shining my flashlight at a certain angle.
This tiny section of a spider web in a Costa Rican cloud forest showed off some amazing colors as the sun shone through it. I used a 100 mm lens with extension tubes and a wide aperture to capture this image.
I was struck by how reflections on a spider web in a Costa Rican cloud forest looked like musical notes.
dew drops on a cloud forest grass
An extreme closeup photo shows the organs of a glass frog. Photographed near the Sumaco Volcano in Ecuador.