Costa Rica Photo Roundup Part 1

(© Ian Plant) Richard Bernabe and I recently wrapped up leading a six-day photo workshop in the Osa Peninsula of Costa Rica with a great group of people. We saw and photographed a fabulous diversity of wildlife (for which the Osa is world famous), and even found room for some down time to enjoy a bit of pura vida—the “pure life.”

I love photographing monkeys, and the Osa has plenty of them. We photographed this white-headed capuchin monkey one morning as it foraged for food in a low hanging palm tree. It was kind enough to pose for us many times! Canon 5DIII, 420mm, ISO 2000, f/6.3, 1/320 second.


I’m always on the lookout for artistic interpretations of wildlife subjects. For this chestnut-mandibled toucan, I choose a camera position which allowed me to include some relatively close palm fronds. By using a wide-open aperture, I was able to render the fronds as out-of-focus blurs, creating abstract visual elements which enhance the overall composition. Canon 5DIII, 560mm, ISO 640, f/5.6, 1/200 second.


The Osa has some wonderful shoreline on the Pacific Ocean. We went down to photograph sunset on several occasions. On our last evening, storm clouds covered most of the sky, allowing just a hint of color through. I found a trio of boulders exposed on the beach, and photographed outgoing waves flowing around the rocks. I kept shooting until it was almost dark, waiting for the perfect combination or color, composition, and wave action. Canon 5DIII, 15mm, ISO 800, f/5.6, 2.5 seconds.


After an early morning rain shower, we photographed the flowers of a cannonball tree, covered in water drops. I selected a camera position that provided a dark background, then stopped down to f/22 to maximize depth-of-field to ensure that most of the flower was rendered in sharp focus. Canon 5DIII, 560mm, ISO 100, f/22, 0.8 seconds.


It is not common to spot a three-toed sloth, and it is even less common to spot one on the move. We got lucky one day, finding a sloth swinging through the trees at breakneck speed! Well, breakneck speed for a sloth, that is. Canon 5DIII, 560mm, ISO 1250, f/5.6, 1/400 second.


During a night walk we came across this tent-making bat underneath a palm leaf. I experimented with several compositions until I finally found a pleasing combination of visual elements, including the prominent curve of the leaf to lead the eye throughout the image frame. Canon 5DIII, 155mm, flash, ISO 100, f/22, 1/125 second.


P.S. I want to give a shout-out to the participants of my group, shown below enjoying a moment of repose on a suspension bridge in the rain forest. A very special thanks to Priscilla, Henri, Linda, Dave, Paul, Sheen, Norm, Bill, and Rob—I couldn’t have asked to spend a week sweating in the jungle with a better group of people!


I’ll be back soon with more images from Costa Rica!  And if you can’t wait for that, pick up a copy of my free ebook, Wonders of the Osa at my estore!

          Visual Flow: Mastering the Art of Composition