Costa Rica: a Macro Paradise

Posted by & filed under Macro, Photograpy, Places/Locales, Technique.

My first vacation after acquiring a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8L IS USM Macro lens was a 5-day trip to Costa Rica. I stayed near La Fortuna, famous for its Arenal Volcano, in the north center of the country. It was December, the end of the wet season, but to my luck it only rained 1 out of 5 days.

Away from the shores and any water related activities, I emerged myself in the rain forest and its habitants shooting over 900 photographs. Even without rain, the conditions for macro photography weren’t great. The tallest trees I’ve ever seen prevented light from penetrating to the forest’s floor, so most of the closeups I took were at f/2.8. Not having the tripod meant that to get enough light in, I had to sacrifice the ISO sometimes to as high as 1600, which thankfully my Canon Rebel XSi allows. That opened up a new problem of too much grain (especially noticeable on closeups), which wasn’t new to me and thanks to a trustworthy Luminosity setting in Adobe’s Lightroom could be fixed to an acceptable degree.

So through humidity and an occasional shower, on Day One, I traveled not far from my home base at Chachaqua Rain Forest to Eco-Centro Danaus, a nature reserve known for its butterfly farm, frog habitat and hundreds species of birds and plant life. Day Two found me climbing through the rain forest to the La Fortuna Waterfall encountering an incredible variety of trees and plants on the way, rememberable for their ginormous leaves, bigger than anything I’ve ever seen. On Day Three, I took a 3-hour bus ride to Caño Negro Nature Reserve, an important wetland sanctuary lying very near the border of Nicaragua. Going down Caño Negro river on a boat, I had a chance to see and capture a variety of birds, monkeys, iguanas, lizards, turtles, crocodiles, caimans, sloths, bats, and more. On my last full day, I took a Hanging Bridges tour through the rain forest near Arenal Volcano. After almost getting used to the hanging bridges (some suspended very high above the rain forest floor), I finally got a good glimpse of Arenal Volcano sans the clouds, saw a lot of night crawlers (aka bugs and snakes), got mesmerized by a tree full of hummingbirds and got a chance to use a large leaf for an umbrella in the rain.

All in all, a very busy few days some of which were rounded off with the Tabacon Hot Springs, a great Costa Rican pass time.

For more pics from the trip, visit my Costa Rica set.

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