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Monday, October 1, 2007

Jungle Photography

The rain forests of Central America are so close, yet so exotic

jungle photography
The reds of vermilions stand out in sharp contrast to the omnipresent green leaves
of Central America’s jungles and rain forests.

What To Wear

Rain gear to a rain forest? No-brainer, right? Well, not exactly. You’ll find that few people who live in the rain forest areas wear such gear. It's warm there, and raincoats and pants can get clammy and wet inside from your perspiration. Gore-Tex® clothing is less useful there, too, as the temperature climbs because the Gore-Tex® membrane needs your body to be warmer than the surroundings to force the moisture out.

Most people in the lowland rain forests of Central America either use an umbrella or they accept getting wet when it rains. Lightweight cotton fabrics are comfortable, especially when the temperature climbs (and the humidity with it). You’ll find that quick-drying clothing is a great benefit. When it does rain, a hat keeps the rain out of your face.

Waterproof boots can be useful, though hiking sandals may be just as valuable. These sandals provide some protection to your toes and support your foot better than casual sandals.


In most Central American countries today, customs isn’t too much of a problem for the traveling photographer. The countries recognize how important tourism is to them and want to encourage photography. It varies from country to country, though. Check with the U.S. State Department (www.travel.state.gov) to see if there are any problems in the areas you plan to visit that may affect photography.

You may find that you’ll be stopped if you’re carrying an excessive amount of gear with a big tripod, however. This flags you as a "professional" and could cost you both time and money. Keep your gear simple, carrying only what you need, and with a solid yet compact travel tripod.

Let the customs officials know that you’re a photography enthusiast and are there to have fun photographing their great country. Ask if they have any ideas of places you should visit. Bring your business card to show them you’re not a professional photographer.

Jungle Photography
Macro lovers will find plenty of wild-looking insects to photograph at just about every turn in the rain forest.

Professional photographers should keep a low-key approach. Never argue with customs officials. And pros should have contacts in the countries they’re visiting who can help them with the latest information on customs and any problems that occur.

Close And Exotic

Central American rain forests are terrific places for U.S. photographers to visit because they’re so close, yet so exotic. You won’t find any location that will offer more natural diversity to capture with your camera. Plus, most of the Central American countries love Americans. Costa Rica, for example, has a long history of being a peaceful country, without even an army, and it welcomes visitors from the U.S.

In addition, visits by photographers reinforce the value of these incredible locations. That keeps locals and their country interested in keeping rain forests as rain forests, not new pastures. Tourism can be a valuable part of their economy.

That’s not to say that too many people might harm locations. I’m sure that’s a problem in places, but there are so many great locations that you can find spots that aren’t being threatened. In fact, many private landholdings are set aside as preserves for limited numbers of people.

Costa Rica, Belize, Honduras, Panama and nearby countries all have rain forests waiting to be discovered by American photographers. These can be places for photographic trips of a lifetime.

Rob Sheppard
will lead a digital workshop and tour to Costa Rica in December. For more information, visit the Holbrook Travel website, www.holbrooktravel.com (click on the Nature Travel link).




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