The Essence of the Tropical Rainforest

While in the rainforest, your eyes will wander off over and over as your senses are being triggered by the sounds of unknown animals, the flashy colors of some bird and the smell of ripe fruits.  At times, one instinct is to ask “what is that?” while my suggestion is to “shoot it first, ask questions later”. The reason is simple, sometimes these encounters happen so fast that if you don’t shoot it, it may be gone by the time you get an answer.  At the end, that shot may be a winner or simply an evidential shot of what you saw. This type of photography may be considered a snapshot as the creative process was minimal.  You aimed your camera and composed the best you could under the pressing circumstances and pressed the shutter release. 

Now, there’s another type of photography that requires you to think the best way to present your subject. This type of photography is usually accompanied by extra time on site with your subject. Time that is used to figure out the best way to highlight its features, perhaps capture something comical or simply show your skills by using the light to your advantage. Below there are a series of images that were created by means of spending extra time to create a captivating one. Whether you are experimenting or know exactly what you’re looking for, having that extra time to compose the perfect shot can make a difference between a snapshot capture and a creative image.

A Different Perspective

Leaf Mantis (R. Munguía)

Shooting this leaf mantis from below was a bit of a challenge as the mantis would not cooperate by peaking the head over the leaf’s edge.  After some trial an error, the image was executed using a fill flash from below. The curves on the leaf were used to divide the composition into two even sections, one of which was out-of-focus due to DOF (Depth-of-field) and the other tack sharp on the subject.

Green -crowned Brilliant (John Lampkin)

Again, a magnificent close-up image of Hummingbird taken by workshop participant and friend John Lampkin while in Costa Rica in 2022. The unusual view of the bird makes it very interesting and attractive as it’s a different view of a very photographed species. Don’t hesitate to shoot weird angles, you may be pleasantly surprised.

A Different Perspective

Strawberry Poison Dart (John Lampkin)

For this shot, John and I spent over 10 minutes trying to figure out the most effective way to highlight the subject. Finally, I offered to hold a second flash from behind the frog to create an almost natural beam of light filtering through the rainforest canopy with the hope of defining the body of the frog inside the cup mushroom. It worked! One of the favorite photos of the 2023 photo expedition.

Red-eyed Treefrog silhouette (R. Munguía)

A similar effect was created for this photograph of a Red-eyed Treefrog backlit by the light of a flash.  This effect is really easy to recreate by simply shooting a flash slave above the subject. The difficulty comes from focusing in the darkness of the night while hand-holding the lens.  An extra pair of hands comes really handy on this situation.

A Different Perspective

Scarlet Macaw (Reinier Munguía)

After shooting over 200 photos of these Scarlet Macaws flying from left to right, it was time to do something different. Yes, we always aim to freeze actions and obtain tack sharp images, but if you want to be creative with moving subjects like this flying birds, try using a slow shutter speed  and pan your camera as you take the shot. The results are a bit impressionistic and while it may look like you don’t know anything about photography for obtaining a very blurred image, this in fact is you using your camera creatively. When it happens by mistake, it’s a different story.


A Different Perspective

Black-cowled Orioles (Reinier Munguía)

We all watch this adult feeding the fledgling on the branch, but the shots were boring and didn’t have a good point of focus to drive the viewer. Then the youngster decided to jump on the bromelia and the scene took a turn for the best. Now the image looked more dynamic and capturing the moment when the food was transfered made the shot a success. So the moral of the story….stay til’ the end.


Central American Bullfrog eating a Gladiator frog  (Reinier Munguía)

At this point we have been shooting frogs in the darkness of the night for an hour and under a light rain, when suddenly out of nowhere a frog falls from the trees and right in front of a hungry bullfrog. The action was quick, and without hesitation, I moved in the right position to capture the struggle. The gladiator put up a fight, but its size did not deter the bullfrog from making it a meal.


A Different Perspective

Leaf-cutter Ants (Reinier Munguía)

When shooting Leaf-cutter is not unusual to see scouts riding on the leaf being carried by the workers. These are unique images that demonstrate the hard to believe weight carrying capacity of these tiny insects. The next time you have an opportunity to capture how amazing nature can be, don’t hesitate to hit the trigger.  This show was really planned carefully by allowing the ant to climb on an endless stick, one that did not have any pheromones making the ants stay in the same stick for quite some time, enough for few chances to capture the piggyback activity.

Collared Aracari (Reinier Munguía)

This young aracari was simply drunk from eating too many ripe bananas.  Just kidding, it wasn’t drunk, it was just taking the early morning sun or basking.  

Four-eyed  Frog (Reinier Munguía)

When I saw these two, straight in front of me, I figured a lower angle will capture the funky looking four-eyed frog effect.  Unusual and funny at the same time. 

Posted in Nature & Wildlife.

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