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Photography Question 
Arthur Bohlmann
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/16/2006
 

Tropical Rain Forest Concerns


I will be traveling to Costa Rica in three weeks to photograph the tropical rain forest. What concerns should I prepare for? Any special gear besides my photo backpack to protect my equipment?
Art


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4/19/2009 9:32:38 AM

 
Gregory LaGrange
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/11/2003
gregorylagrange.org
  I don't know if it's past the rainy season or not, but rain and humidity can cause condensation, and watch out for bugs when changing lenses.
Take plastic bags and silica packs (desiccant).


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4/19/2009 1:13:49 PM

 
Arthur Bohlmann
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/16/2006
  Thanks for the advice! It will be rainy. Thanks!
Art


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4/19/2009 1:16:54 PM

 
Bruce A. Dart   Art,
A number of years ago a friend of mine hit Trinidad in the rainy season. With some good old duct tape, he fastened his umbrella to the should strap of his camera bag to have both hands free to operate the camera!! Good luck.
Bruce


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4/23/2009 4:03:32 AM

 
Arthur Bohlmann
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/16/2006
  Thanks Bruce


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4/23/2009 5:35:06 AM

 
Minor Arias
BetterPhoto Member Since: 6/2/2007
  Arthur,
I am from Costa Rica and can tell you that rainy season is about to start here so be prepared with a camera raincover, insects repellent. In case of rain forest, it rains A LOT...but you'll find that despite of the rain, you'll get amazing places/things to shot.


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4/23/2009 9:06:02 AM

 
Arthur Bohlmann
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/16/2006
  Thank you Minor

I have everything except for the camera rain cover. I am looking forward to experiencing a few of the natural wonders of your country.


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4/23/2009 9:28:46 AM

 
Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
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  It's very important to have a raincoat for your digital camera. I used heavy duty plastic bags for my Nikon FM3A film camera and lenses. They were made like a tank and had very little battery power.

But your digital will need a lot more.
Shutter Hat, available through www.fmphotography.us is something I used on tours, not to Costa Rica but to other places where rain was expected. But I think you need more than that.

When we were in the rainforest in New Zealand, everything was saturated. I had my manual film camera in a dry bag, which we took whitewater canoeing, or in the case of Fiordland National Park, in our ocean kayaks. It helped keep things dry, but taking pictures was tough. Digital makes everything more difficult with rain, especially inside tents. Buy the best rain gear for your camera and lenses that money can buy. Replacement of lens and camera electronics makes it cost effective.

Many people on our ocean kayaking trip used disposable cameras. Those with SLRs like myself, kept our cameras stashed much of the time. The rainforest had rivlets that came through our tents wetting down everything. Personally, I would NOT take anything that would be challenging to replace. Although, there are times, when the rain lets up or when nothing overhead is dripping.

Waterfalls were awesome in Doubtful and Milford Sounds in Fiordland National Parks in New Zealand.

I've only been in a small patch of rainforest in Costa Rica, but I image the same would apply.


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4/24/2009 7:58:50 PM

 
Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
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  With Raincoats for camera gear, some people recommended the Kata 702 Rain gear for SLR lenses.
http://tinyurl.com/cn2nup

Others recommended: The ShutterHat, which I purchased.
http://tinyurl.com/c38gcx

Still others recommended the scuba gear that goes with smaller lenses on some cameras. Nikon used to make one, Canon may as well.


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4/24/2009 8:17:07 PM

 
Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
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  With Raincoats for camera gear, some people recommended the Kata 702 Rain gear for SLR lenses.
http://tinyurl.com/cn2nup

Others recommended: The ShutterHat, which I purchased.
http://tinyurl.com/c38gcx

Still others recommended the scuba gear that goes with smaller lenses on some cameras. Nikon used to make one, Canon may as well.


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4/24/2009 8:18:26 PM

 
Arthur Bohlmann
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/16/2006
  Thanks Bunny

I think I will go with the raincoat for my camera, I will check Amazon.com and read the reviews. I will be taking my Canon 40D and want to protect it as much as possible


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4/25/2009 1:19:09 AM

 
Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
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  Thank umbrella, which attaches to the tripod, looks like an interesting idea. I found, however, that while most of the rain in the rainforests came straight down in heavily forested areas, a lot of rain blew in. Plus, the humidity is like south Louisiana during the summer--very sticky. Moisture alone can cause a lot of damage to digital equipment including batteries. I would change lenses as little as possible, and still use a rain protector over the body, as well as the lens. The ShutterHat covers both. Some gear protects only the lens. And, the umbrella protects from above.

When we went to Costa Rica, as well as to the rainforests of Doubtful Sound and cruised into Milford Sound, that heavy air during rain storms could have wrecked havoc on digital equipment. While on was using manual film cameras, I used a heavy duty clear plastic bag over the camera body to protect from all sides, and then also covered most of the lens with another plastic tube. The lens shade held the plastic (as well as any lens rain gear in place), and as a precaution, I also used filters to protect the lens, itself.

Immediately, when I was able to get into drier surroundings, I either took apart applicable parts of my equipment and tripod, and thoroughly wiped them down with the appropriate dry cloth. Stashed the camera and lenses in dissicate packets, and placed them in ziplock plastic bags. Don't forget to dry your tripod, and air out any storage equipment.

The worst damage that occurred to one of my manual "tank-like" cameras, occurred when the equipment was left in the storage container after a whitewater canoe trip and just a wee bit of moisture mildewed everything. The camera works now after spending a year in the repair shop.

Moisture and heat can have a devastating effect on camera equipment and batteries. I share this again, because it cannot be emphasized too much.

Another idea is to laminate an 18% gray card with PVC to water proof. Then, use that card to set your CWB in the camera and set your camera reading. It saved me a lot of time in the darkroom and on the computer later on.

If you are totally prepared, your equipment will survive and your images will be awesome. Enjoy!


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4/25/2009 9:55:03 AM

 
Arthur Bohlmann
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/16/2006
  Thanks again Bunny
Your advise will ensure that I have a successfull experience

Art


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4/25/2009 1:12:08 PM

 
Arthur Bohlmann
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/16/2006
  Bunny

Since you recommend using only one lense while I am on the elevated platforms during the rainy searon, what lense do you recommend? I was considering using my 70-300mm telephoto, would a wide angle lense be better? I agree with your recommendation of avoiding changing lenses if it is raining or if swarms of insects are in the area.

Thanks

Art


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4/25/2009 5:10:19 PM

 
Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
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  I think you'd be pretty well covered with the 70-300mm lens. One thing I wish I had when the weather was nice in the early evening, on higher ground was a graduated reduced density filter. This is because the sunsets were spectacular and with them, you could achieve stunning sunsets and detail in the rainforest which was in the shadow, at the same time. Without them, its an either or situation. I bought a 2 GRD and 3 GRD right after we left Costa Rica and began learning to use it on a trip to the Czech Republic. This was while I was still using film.

It is my understanding that one can create GRD filtering effects in Photoshop, but I would image you'd need to be on a sturdy tripod or at least a carbon fiber with a ballast that can be filled in the streams down the center of the tripod and then, bracketing your exposures.

If you have a light weight wide angle lens, you might stash it just in case. Be certain that it is in a waterproof case and cushioned.

Are you backpacking? Or, staying the Selva Verde Lodge in a small patch of rain forest? That was an awesome experience, sleeping in the tree tops on mattresses, screened in windows and ceiling fans. We didn't rough it in Costa Rica like we did in N.Z.
http://www.selvaverde.com/lang/en/

Also, you might consider weight if you are backpacking. Carrying your DSLR and that big lens can get heavy! In China, I carried the 28-135mm very light weight lens for my Canon Elan (film camera). We had weight restrictions and I wanted a good walk around lens that wasn't too heavy. You won't find those same weight restrictions in Costa Rica.


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4/25/2009 9:30:17 PM

 
Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
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  I've always believed that deciding on one lens is a judgment call. It would be tough to carry a heavy lens if you are flying through the trees like a monkey or walking along the hanging bridges. On the other hand, you'd kick yourself for not taking it. That's why I took a good walk around lens, which was not too heavy. I was covered for wide angle, but had some short telephoto play. Now, I was unable to capture the beautiful birds and awesome wildlife with the lens I had. For me, weight was a factor. My body was carrying too much, and I had plantar fasciitis during our trip to Costa Rica, which was a bummer.

I haven't looked to see what kind of images you like to take. If your preference is birds, monkeys, and such. Then, you'd definitely want your zoom telephoto. If you like wide opened landscapes, then a wide angle. Or, if you also like close-ups: then, a decent macro lens and ring lite. But, carrying all of that is too heavy. So, that's a decision you are going to need to make yourself. I wouldn't leave good lenses in a hotel room unprotected. They may be missing when you want them. Decisions, decisions.


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4/25/2009 9:59:44 PM

 
Arthur Bohlmann
BetterPhoto Member Since: 8/16/2006
  Bunny I cannot thank you enough for your advice that is based on experience. During my visit to the rain forest I will be carrying my photo backpack, the lenses I will have in it will be my 70-300mm, 28-135 (both IS lenses and my 100 mm macro. I agree with your suggestion of not leaving any gear in the hotel, I will also be bringing my momopod.

I will be staying in San Jose and will be taking the grey line to the cloud forest, bought tickets in advance. This is my 1st trip to a tropical forest and will be going solo so will taking this approach, will definately check out the lodge you mentioned for my next visit.

As for the photography that I enjoy taking, this is a hard one to answer, I enjoy anything and everything that my minds eye has a fancination with, I make an annual pilgramige to Arizon every November for the last three years to photograph the desert, indian cliff dwellings and rock art. In 2010 I will begin visiting New Mexico to photograph the Anazai ruins.

I envy you being able to travel and photograph so many interesting places.

Thanks once again for your help


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4/26/2009 6:09:31 AM

 
Bunny Snow
BetterPhoto Member Since: 11/16/2004
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  You are very welcome.

As I mentioned, I was using a manual Nikon FM3A on our Costa Rica and Danube trips in 2004. It was then I realized that I need a better camera, which has both automatic and manual features. Age and injuries have made it more difficult to see and focus (not to mention walk) more difficult.

My website for the 2004 and early trips is at http://bunnysnow.us/. Click on Travel photos, and from there Costa Rica. My husband assembled the website, which makes sense to him, but not me...which is part of the reason I came to BetterPhoto.com.

We took a tour and everything except meals and some outside trips were included, so I have no idea of prices. But, the first place where we stayed was the Tabacon Resort in the Arenal volcano area about 3 hours from San Jose. http://www.tabacon.com/home_i.html

A couple days later, we stayed in the Cloud Forest at Villablanca. You'll understand why it's called the Cloud Forest. I was glad I had a light weight tripod, rather than a monopod, which I needed with the low, misty light.
http://www.villablanca-costarica.com/

We took a bus tour to the towns of Sarchi, Grecia, and Zarcero.
http://www.strayreality.com/crgrecia.htm

A side trip was taken to Poas Volcano National Park.

Another day, we took a rainforest tram. But, with my injured foot, I could not soar through the trees, which I think would be awesome --but not with your camera gear.
http://www.rainforestrams.com/craintro.html

And, the day before our flight home, we visited the the dormant Irazu Volcano and later, Lankester Gardens, where we saw and I attempted to capture the rare beauty of orchids. But, found I definitely needed a better camera!

http://www.dgweb.com/~fenner/Lankester.html
http://www.costaricadiscover.com/info/irazu_volcano_national_park.htm

This is where we visited. There are many places to go in Costa Rica. Remember, we were on a tour; not going solo, so reservations were made in advance. I would imagine that advance reservations would be needed, anyway.

Enjoy, and I'm happy to have helped you!

BTW, Before Costa Rica, our out of country trips were sparse. Since our daughter chose college in Scotland, we visited her over Christmas. Same was true when she briefly moved to New Zealand, where she did graduate work.

We saved money and lived frugally so we could travel later. Later is today and my husband is traveling the world for education and visiting countries.

I cannot walk very well, so I'm continuing my studies at BetterPhoto.com.

~Bunny


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4/26/2009 1:53:36 PM

 
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