Photo Tips

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Updated July 2008 by Philip Greenspun.

Bring a Tripod

For rainforest photography, I recommend digital camera settings of ISO 100 and ISO 400 or 800. If it is moving, use a flash and ISO 400 or 800. If it isn't, use a tripod and ISO 100. It is dark, dark, dark under the canopy.

Want animal pictures? Bring the Mother of All Lenses

Or buy postcards. Animals in Costa Rica are mostly small and mostly far away high up in trees. Bird photography anywhere starts with a 600/4 lens and goes up from there. You might squeak by with a 300/4 and a teleconverter, but expect to crop. A Canon 600/4 costs $7500 and comes in its own suitcase.

If you have a point and shoot camera, forget about taking animal pictures. If you have a 70-210 zoom lens, forget about taking animal pictures.

Get Contact Lenses

I wear eyeglasses and after ten minutes in the rainforest couldn't see anything because my glasses were fogged and soaked in sweat, as was the viewfinder of my Canon EOS-5. I survived by trusting autofocus and burning lots of film.

About the Photos I took

Almost all of the photos here were taken back in 1995 with two Canon EOS-5 (European A2E) bodies, and 20-35/2.8, 35-350L, 50/1.0, 50/2.8 macro, or 14/3.5 lenses, all mounted on a Bogen tripod with ballhead and quick release. One out of 45 rolls was exposed with a Yashica T4 point and shoot. The "rafting down the Pacuare" roll was taken with a waterproof Nikon Action Touch.

I came back with 24 rolls of slides, mostly Fuji Sensia but some Fuji Velvia. I exposed 17 rolls of Fuji 400 negative film.

Of course, the modern way to do this would be with a Canon EOS digital SLR system:

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