Camera trap photos rely on an infrared beam to trigger a camera when something breaks the beam. It's a great way, indeed the only way, to take pictures of shy and elusive subjects. Yet many camera trap photos have a similar look with an animal looking surprised and gazing straight into the camera while walking along a path. I wanted to try do something slightly when I learned that an endanagered Margay (Leopardus wiedii) was spotted at my favorite ecolodge in Costa Rica, Bosque de Paz. Luckily, I'm friends with the owners, and they generously allowed me to set up my camera and flashes for as long as it would take to get my photos. I spent 9 nights setting everything up and putting out a little tuna and sardines to help attract the cat to where I had my camera pointed. The cat came for a total of 13 minutes, and my camera took 5 photos. This one, where the beautiful little cat seems totally unaware that he's being photographed in his cloud forest habitat, was my favorite.
After hearing of a lone mangrove tree that grew about 50 meters past the high tide line on an isolated beach on the southern tip of Costa Rica's Nicoya Peninsula, I was intrigued. High tide during my visit was around midnight so I hiked along the beach for an hour before sunset to reach the spot. I set up my composition with the remaining daylight and waited for the tide to roll in. As darkness came on, I noticed the amazing bioluminescent dinoflagellate organisms in the breaking waves, which were associated with a strong red tide in the area. I used a timer remote and a modified headlamp to light paint the tree with the glowing dinoflagellates and the stars as a backdrop.
Being on this beach, and photographing along with good friends and fellow photographers Greg Downing and Nick Hawkins, was a highlight of my nature photography experiences. We truly felt like we were at the the edge of the Earth!
Puma (Puma concolor) feasting on a guanaco (Lama guanicoe) carcass on the outskirts of the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. Absolutely stunned by the possibiity when I came upon this fresh kill, I quickly cobbled together a remote setup using what I had in my backpack along with sticks and string to hold my flashes! Photo taken with a wide angle lens and a remote shutter release in a collaboration between professional nature photographers Gregory Basco and Rodrigo Moraga. Canon 5DsR, Canon 16-35 mm f/4 zoom lens, tripod, remote wireless shutter release, Phottix Odin flash transmitter, 2 flashes, f/11, 1/200, ISO 400
Pallas' Long-tongued bat visits a calabash gourd flower, Costa Rica
Art of Snake
Brown vine snake (Oxybelis aeneus) in a lowland rainforest in Costa Rica. Vine snakes often open their mouths in a defensive posture.
Canon 7D II, Sigma 150 mm macro, handheld, f/4, 1/200, ISO 100, one flash off-camera
A secluded beach in the Gandoca-Manzanillo Wildlife Refuge yielded this peaceful scene.
The red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas) is the most famous frog in Costa Rica and probably in the world. I wanted a photo unlike the thousands of others out there, and I wanted to try to distill this nocturnal frog to its essence. Using flash to simulate a moonlit effect, I concentrated on bringing out those famous eyes and dispensing with nearly everything else.
A Gliding Leaf Frog (Agalychnis spurrelli) moves through a rainforest at night in Ecuador
I/O moth caterpillar on a Heliconia in a lowland rainforest
Emerald glass frog, Costa Rica. I used shallow depth of field and diffused flash for this nighttime portrait.
Gladiator tree frog on a bromeliad-laden branch near Carara National Park
Blue-sided tree or yellow-eyed leaf frog (Agalychnis annae), highly endangered species endemic to Costa Rica
Linda's Tree Frog (Hyloscirtus lindae), cloud forest, Ecuador
A Gliding Leaf Frog (Agalychnis spurrelli) in a rainforest at night in Ecuador
I photographed this psychadelic walking stick (a Phasmid insect that I've not been able to identify) at night in a cloud forest near the Tenorio Volcano National Park. Some estimates claim that Costa Rica may harbor upwards of half a million species of invertebrates; this is certainly one of the more striking species. Lighting was via a flashlight torch.
Termites hatch on a rainy night in a rainforest in southern Ecuador
A colorful weevil on a branch in a rainforest, Ecuador
Spiny Devil Katydid in a rainforest in the Amazon foothills of Ecuador
Puma (Puma concolor) feasting on a domestic sheep (Ovis aries) carcass on the outskirts of the Torres del Paine National Park in Chile. There is a growing conflict in the region between sheep farmers and conservationists because the puma, symbol of conservation in the area, has discovered sheep to be easy prey. Farmers have been known to hunt pumas to avoid losses to their flocks.
Photo taken with a wide angle lens and a remote shutter release in a collaboration between professional nature photographers Gregory Basco and Rodrigo Moraga.
A common opossum eating ants on a tree trunk at night in the Bosque de Paz Cloud Forest Reserve
I took this image of a paca (Cuniculus paca, a large nocturnal forest rodent) in a cloud forest in Costa Rica. Knowing where some individuals were feeding, I set out multiple flashes to provide for interesting lighting and laid down on the ground to get an eye level view. I wanted an image that would look moonlit and that would add a bit of intrigue to this big rodent as it foraged for seeds and fruit. I scattered a bit of food in certain areas to allow for better predictability.
Pallas' Long-tongued Bats visit a Calabash gourd flower (Crescentia cujete) in Costa Rica