Costa Rica 2009: A Good Guide

In general, Tamy and I try to go it alone. 
During a typical nature photog shoot, we stuff our photo packs, grab the tripods, and go for a walk. It is in the walking that we do the finding. While we often set some arbitrary distance or final destination, by walking we create the time and opportunity to see. On occasion we have hauled our gear up mountains, across rivers, and through deserts without taking a single photograph. In contrast, we have been to places where we are paralyzed by the infinite potential to see something new. We will walk ten feet, shoot for an hour, and move ten feet down the trail just to shoot again. When this occurs, we’ve hit the “mother load.”

Costa Rica is the “mother load” for photographic opportunities. Short walks offer an endless potential to see, find, and create. While visiting the Savegre Mountain Hotelin the Talamanca Range we were able to immerse ourselves in this rich ecosystem. The Savegre River and Mountain Hotel are at an elevation of 2200 meters (7200 feet) and reside in a valley below the stunted forests of Cerro de la Muerte. The elevation and persistent precipitation result in a cool climate that allows the humid atmosphere to condense and enshroud the forest in fog. Known as a cloudforest, this type of rainforest is rare and results in many unique species. Costa Rica’s cloud forest is rich with endemic species of hummingbirds, warblers, trogans, and tanangers. One spectacular bird species found in the cloudforest is the Resplendent Quetzal. With iridescent green and red feathers, this bird is among the most beautiful I have had the opportunity to see and photograph.

So, how does the walking photographer who is immersed in all things find a hidden jewel? 
Answer: Hire a wildlife guide. 
Marino Chacón, wildlife guide and co-owner of the Savegre Mountain Hotel, pulled up a chair during lunch and asked, “what do you want to see.” From that moment and until the day we left, Marino was our man. He guided us through a virgin oak forest, down the Savegre River, and to the resplendent quetzal. As a photographer and traveler, your time is limited; a quality guide is worth the fee and should tipped handsomely. Great guides live where they work, have studied your subject’s behavior, and can predict where and when the opportunities exist. Furthermore, great guides know and understand light. They will know when the light is good and when it is time to move on. Without Marino’s assistance, we would been paralyzed by the infinite possibilities. While we might have produced other striking images, we would have missed the unknown potential that lied just a few feet ahead.
Thank you Marino!

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