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— Birds —
Costa Rican Rainforest

For the Birds

Birds are the predominant wildlife of the rainforest. They are also the most colourful — and nosiest inhabitants.

Fiery-billed Aracari & Flower — Costa Rica, 2001

Photographed with a Canon EOS D30 and 100~400mm f/5.6L lens @ 400mm
1/180 sec @ f/8 — ISO 200 (+1.5 exposure compensation)

This photograph has turned out to be one of my favourites from the trip. I suppose that it's the strong graphic aspect that appeals — something often missing in shots containing foliage.

Technically it was a difficult shot to take because as I was walking the path and encountered the bird the flash unit was nestled in my fanny pack, and I was afraid that the bird would scoot before I could extract it. Since the camera's meter would be reading mostly sky, the toucan would end up as a silhouette and so I quickly dialed in an extra one and a half stops of exposure compensation, letting the sky go white.

Chestnut-mandibled Toucan — Costa Rica, 2001

Photographed with a Canon EOS D30 and 100~400mm f/5.6L lens @ 400mm
1/60 sec @ f/5.6 — ISO 400 

If the foliage overhead is dense enough it's possible to do bird portraits without fill-flash. In this instance I was able to hand-hold the 400mm IS lens at 1/60th of a second, wide open, with acceptable results. Remarkable.

Toucan & Branches — Costa Rica, 2001

Photographed with a Canon EOS D30 and 100~400mm f/5.6L lens @ 220mm
1/20 sec @ f/6.7 — ISO 400 using Canon 550EX flash @ -1.5 with
Better Beamer Flash Extender

While most of my bird photographs are close-ups in this one I tried to show this yellow billed Toucan in context of the lush vegetation. It should be noted that February is the middle of Costa Rica's dry season. Come late April the rainy season begins. I'd love to see the rainforest then.

Lapas 1 — Costa Rica, 2001

Photographed with a Canon EOS D30 and 100~400mm f/5.6L lens @ 400mm
1/200 sec @ f/8 — ISO 400 using Canon 550EX flash @ -1.5 with
Better Beamer Flash Extender

This Great Green Macaw ("Lapas" in Costa Rican Spanish) would landed on a tree near our casita every afternoon at around the same time to feast on berries. The lighting conditions were impossible! A harsh burned-out sky in the background with the bird buried in the dark shadows beneath the leaves. The use of fill-flash was essential, and again the Better Beamer proved a handy accessory.

I must admit to being puzzled by an artifact seen in this photograph. In the enlarged version you'll see that part of the bird and the leaves have a blue outline. This is clearly visible in the RAW image straight from the camera and is not an artifact from sharpening. It appears to have something to do with the extreme contrast range, or possible outlining from the fill-flash. Puzzling.

Boat-Billed Heron — Costa Rica, 2001

Photographed with a Canon EOS D30 and 100~400mm f/5.6L lens @ 285mm
1/250 sec @ f/6.7 — ISO 400 

These boat-billed Herons were found in the foliage of a mangrove swamp while touring the Rio Aquinas delta in a small boat. With a 6 foot range between high and low tide the mouth of the river is a mangrove swamp and home to a huge variety of both aquatic and avian life. The numbers of birds found nesting in the mangroves was truly astonishing. Once again the use of an Image Stabilized lens made all the difference between being able to get shots and missing them due to movement of the boat.

Vulture — Costa Rica, 2001

Photographed with a Canon EOS D30 and 100~400mm f/5.6L lens @ 400mm
1/500 sec @ f/9.5 — ISO 400 

The number of vultures seen on the periphery of the rainforest is remarkable. They are natures garbage collectors and a fine job they do. This one was seen cooling off one mid-afternoon as we slowly floated down the Rio Aquinas through the mangrove swamp.

This portfolio consists of 4 sections in addition to this page.

The Rainforest

Monkeys

Iguanas

Miscellaneous

Book Recommendation

The Art of Bird Photography

Art Morris is one of North America's preeminent bird photographers. Anyone interested in the the art and technique of photographing birds owes it to themselves to have this book in their library.

Art is a Canon shooter and so much of his technical commentary relates to Canon gear. Regardless, there is so much good advise in the book that users of any brands of cameras or lenses will benefit from owning it.

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Concepts: Camera, Photography, Flash, Costa Rica, Australia, Canon EOS D30, Mangrove, Film speed

Entities: Costa, Canon, North America, Costa Rica, sec, Michael Reichmann, fanny pack, Art Morris

Tags: Canon EOS D30, bird, Better Beamer, Canon 550EX flash, mangrove swamp, Beamer Flash Extender, exposure compensation, Rio Aquinas, rainforest, fill-flash, strong graphic aspect, Great Green Macaw, harsh burned-out sky, preeminent bird photographers, natures garbage collectors, Rio Aquinas delta, Costa Rican Spanish, cameras, photograph, extreme contrast range, foliage, Canon gear, Canon shooter, nosiest inhabitants, predominant wildlife, bird portraits, fanny pack, difficult shot, bird photographs, lush vegetation, late april, acceptable results, handy accessory, rainy season, enlarged version, flash unit, boat-billed herons, blue outline, dry season, good advise