Tropical Nature Setups
Nov. 5 to 16, 2022
Setups are an important skill for the nature photographer, especially so in the tropical rain forest. Greg and Glenn share the photographic and setup techniques that help them capture some of their favorite images.
Nov. 5 to 16, 2022
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About the Workshop
Tropical Nature Setups
About the Workshop
Tropical Nature Setups
Glenn Bartley is a world renowned professional nature photographer from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. He focuses almost all of his efforts on capturing intimate images of birds in their natural habitat. Glenn is especially well-known for his portraits of rare and difficult to photograph birds from the Neotropical Region and his portfolio of hummingbird images.
Gregory Basco is a professional nature photographer based in Costa Rica. After completing graduate degrees in political science and tropical ecology (his doctoral dissertation focused on the politics of ecotourism in Costa Rica), Greg worked in conservation before turning to photography full-time in 2006. His images have been awarded in the Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year and Nature's Best Windland Smith Rice competitions and have appeared in numerous magazines and books around the world.
His latest major project is the second edition of the large format printed book National Parks of Costa Rica in conjunction with Zona Tropical and Cornell University Press. His popular e-books include The Guide to Tropical Nature Photography, Lightroom for the Nature Photographer, and the upcoming Flash for the Nature Photographer.
You can see more of Greg's work at his website.
You should arrive to and depart from Costa Rica's Juan Santamaria International Airport (SJO). Our driver will be waiting to provide your private transfer to our capital city hotel.
Electrical outlets are US-style. Those coming from Europe or Asia may need travel adapters. We will send more info after signup.
We strongly recommend you purchase trip insurance that includes trip cancellation and medical coverage while overseas.
Costa Rica does not require any vaccionations to enter the country. Please consult with your doctor regarding general travel vaccinations.
All of our hotels have free WIFI. We will also have cell data coverage for most of the trip.
All of our services are conducted by fully licensed travel, lodge, and transport operators. This is part of our commitment to providing a professional travel experience.
Tele lens 500 mm or longer
Camera body or bodies
Medium zoom lens, e.g., 70-200 mm, 100-400 mm
Wide angle lens
Off-camera TTL flash cord
Telephoto flash bracket
Flash plus Better Beamer for birds and wildlife
Rain cover for camera
Small softbox or diffuser
Small pack or shoulder bag for daily shooting
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Day 1, Arrival/San Jose
Arrival to Costa Rica. Meet our representative at the Juan Santamaría International Airport and transfer to your hotel near the capital city of San José, where Foto Verde Tours’ Greg Basco will be awaiting your arrival. Those who arrive early can take the afternoon to photograph the beautiful orchids and other tropical flowers in the hotel’s expansive gardens. The hotel has free wireless Internet throughout the grounds and in the rooms.
Day 2, Atlantic Rainforest
After an early breakfast, we check out and head to our first destination, a rainforest lodge where Greg has worked to set up a feeder that offers unparalleled opportunities to photograph keel-billed toucans, chestnut-mandibled toucans, and brown-hooded parrots among many other birds. We arrive at the lodge for lunch and set in immediately to photograph at the feeders! This evening, Greg and Glenn will give a presentation on fill-flash for bird and wildlife photography.
Day 3, Atlantic Rainforest
Today we divide our time at the lodge among photographing toucans, parrots, king vultures, honeycreepers, and hummingbirds – tropical bird photography doesn't get any better! Today we will split the group with half using blinds for toucans, oropendolas, and vultures that we've rented for the day and the other half shooting at our restaurant tanager and parrot feeders and visiting the lodge manager's house where we have worked with the lodge manager to set up two blinds – one for honeycreepers and one for a multiple-flash hummingbird setup where you will have the opportunity to photograph lowland hummingbird species including crowned woodnymph, white-necked jacobin, green-breasted mango, scaly-breasted hummingbird, and long-billed hermit.
Day 4, Atlantic Rainforest
And today we do it all again, with each half of the group visiting the blinds at which they've not yet photographed. And tonight we have a special treat – bat photography!
Day 5, Arenal Volcano
After an early breakfast, we travel to the Arenal Volcano area. Though currently experiencing a lull in activity, until recently Arenal had been the country's most active volcano, with continuous emissions of lava and incandescent pyroclastic flows since the beginning of the recent active cycle in 1968. On clear nights, the views of incandescent avalanches can be breathtaking. Hopefully it will become more active again soon but that, of course, is beyond our control. En route to Arenal, we stop for lunch at a restaurant that has a large population of wild iguanas. We arrive at our lodge in the afternoon and, after check-in, photograph the sunset over Lake Arenal.
Day 6, Arenal Volcano
This morning we roam the hotel grounds in search of wildlife to photograph, including monkeys, crested guan, and collared aracaris. We also will take time to photograph the numerous Montezuma oropendolas at the lodge feeders. Later this morning, we depart for a nearby spot with an amazing collection of frogs, snakes, and lizards. This place is run by one of Greg's friends, and the staff there will help us to photograph these colorful animals on natural stages that we will set up on site. This is a great opportunity to photograph a number of species that are very difficult to find in the wild and also to continue our work on creative lighting for pleasing macro images. We will enjoy a delicious home-cooked lunch as well as refreshments and coffee throughout the day. We return to our lodge in late afternoon to photograph the sunset and the Arenal Volcano.
Day 7, Cloud Forest
After an early breakfast, we travel to the higher cloud forests of the northern Central Volcanic Mountain Range and our last lodge and photography base for the rest of our trip. Our lodge is located in one of the most biodiverse areas of the country, nestled in a picturesque valley at approximately 4,500 feet above sea level. With its rushing mountain streams, cool air, and orchid and moss-festooned trees, the area is akin to a tropical Colorado. En route, we stop at a local farm where Greg has worked to set up photo opportunities of the wild, free-flying great green and scarlet macaws that inhabit the owner's large farm property. Upon arrival to our lodge, we can photograph tanagers and black guan in the new feeder areas that Greg has set up on the lodge grounds or explore the cloud forest for macro and landscape photos. This evening, Greg will do a presentation on the technical and artistic aspects of multiple-flash hummingbird photography.
Day 8, Cloud Forest
After breakfast today, we set in immediately to begin photographing hummingbirds at our multi-flash setups right on the lodge grounds. We will concentrate on the violet sabrewing (Costa Rica’s largest species), green hermit, purple-throated mountain gem, and green-crowned brilliant. Greg and Glenn will run the setups and provide attractive native flowers to ensure that you capture some fantastic hummingbird images. Greg's company, Foto Verde Tours, is the only company that has permission to do multi-flash hummingbird photography at this lodge. When not on the setups, you can relax and download images, shoot the black guans, tanagers, agouti, and coatimundi, or explore the cloud forest trails for macro and landscape photography.
Day 9, Cloud Forest
After breakfast, we visit a nearby waterfall, which is 110 meters high and offers beautiful photographic opportunities of the waterfall itself and the surrounding cloud forest. There are some absolutely world-class landscape and lush tropical foliage images to be made here. In addition, we have permission to set up our multiple-flash here to take advantage of some very interesting small hummingbird species such as black-bellied hummingbird, coppery-headed emerald, and green thorntail. We'll shoot throughout the day, alternating our time between the setups, perched hummingbirds, and landscape photography.
Day 10, Pacific Coast
After breakfast, we check out and head toward the Pacific Coast, arriving to our lodge for lunch. In the afternoon we take a private tour on the Tarcoles River to photograph Tiger Heron, Frigatebirds, Kingfishers, and crocodiles.
Day 11, Pacific Coast
In the early morning we head out on our private boat again to explore different stretches of the river and different birds. We return to our hotel for lunch and then head out to a nearby tropical dry forest area to search for owls and nightjars.
Day 12, Pacific Coast/San Jose
After more morning photography around the lodge grounds, we check out and head back toward San Jose. En route, we stop for a delicious traditional Costa Rican lunch at one of the country's most popular restaurants.
Day 13, Airport
Private transfer to the airport for your flight home.
Full-time photo instruction and setups by Greg and Glenn
Lodging as specified in DBL occupancy
Meals as specified
Private transfers to and from hotels on first and last days
Professional driver/photo/nature guide and private transportation in spacious tour bus
Multiple-flash hummingbird and other photography setup equipment
Entrance fees for all described activities
Taxes on all services listed above
Itinerary does not include
Dinner the first night
Non-meal time snacks
Non-meal time soft drinks and bottled water
Single room supplement - $650
Booking a tour with us is easy!
1. Register for your tour using the form at the end of each workshop page.
4. Send us your traveler info form.
2. Send us your reserve deposit.
5. We will send you your final invoice.
3. Book your international air travel.
6. We´ll send you everything you need to know before you hop on the plane!