Join Richard Harrington for an in-depth discussion in this video Touring the mangroves, part of Travel Photography: Costa Rica.
- Another area that's very attractive near the beach are the mangroves. These are an interesting combination, where the trees and the roots start to interact with the saltwater estuaries. This is where freshwater and saltwater meet. They create a very interesting ecosystem and an area that's a lot of fun to go through. We took both kayaks and boats through this area, and there's a ton of animals to see and just interesting textures and colors. You really feel like you are in an old forest when you go through here.
It's an area that's been very minimally impacted by man. When we head out to the mangroves, we're going to be seeing a lot of different subjects, some far away, some close, and to really have a wide range of coverage, I'm going with my most versatile lens. I've got a 28 to 300 millimeter. Now, this is a reasonably priced lens. I call it my tourist lens, and what I like about it is it gives me just a huge range of coverage. I can shoot wide shots to get beautiful vistas, and I can punch in and get the action, and that's going to come in handy.
As we move our way through the mangroves, what we're going to see is sometimes there's opportunities to get closeups, things like small crabs or lizards hanging out on the side of the bank. Other times there's going to be great views that you're going to want to pull in and be able to show that. So, having that versatility and coverage is really useful, but since we're going to be near the sea and the spray, doing a lens change with your camera is not really a good idea. One of the things to keep in mind, you absolutely, positively will get wet. There are times, depending upon the water level, where you'll have to get in and out of the boat to push.
This means that you need to be careful that you keep your gear safe. Dry bags, like we talked about before, excellent idea. Solid shoes that can get wet, even better. Make sure you have an ability to get in and out of your boat easily to move your boat. Just keep an eye out for the crocodiles that we talked about before. Within the mangroves, you'll find the Capuchin monkey. You will also find beautiful crabs that build into the side of the banks. There were a lot of snakes, both in trees and water snakes, and interesting lizards, including ones that literally ran across the water.
They were so fast that they could walk on the water's surface as they ran from one bank to the other. All sorts of birds, like cranes and other animals that were enjoyable to see, and if you keep your eyes out, you may even find the pygmy anteater. This is just a very rich area for animal diversity, and the mangroves provide a nice sanctuary where many animals, even those that are particularly shy, like to hang out. Additionally, there are many family farms and small houses near this area.
We found a couple that were willing to let us visit, and we had a great lunch, as well as made some wonderful portraits and got to see the animals and a horse farm. Nearby you have access to the beach as well, and this is just a fantastic way to spend the day. You can go from the freshwater area to the combination of saltwater and freshwater mixing, all the way out to the active ocean and see just incredible changes in the landscape and the animals. I strongly recommend if you're going to do this, set up a tour.
This will give you greater flexibility, and because you're going to need boats, you're going to need a tour guide anyways. Chances are that's something that doesn't fit into your camera bag.
Rich organizes the lessons by location and activity, so you can dive right into the type of photography that interests you: nature, landscape, macro, underwater, street, or architecture. First he covers packing and planning for a trip to Costa Rica. Then he visits five uniquely beautiful locations, starting with the remote mountain town of Monteverde, where he gets "close up" to wildlife and takes a GoPro along on a zipline tour. At Manuel Antonio, he shows how to shoot at the beach—in and out of the water—and create awe-inspiring time lapses. In Arenal Rich enters the rainforest and shoots with local chocolate and coffee growers, and in Caño Negro, he takes a river-boat tour. The trip ends in San José, the capital of Costa Rica, which offers great opportunities for shooting street photography and architecture.
The course closes with some in-field workflow tips to keep your images safe, and some post-production techniques to develop your photos in Lightroom, Photoshop, and Camera Raw.
- Understanding the geography of Costa Rica
- Packing and planning
- Photographing wildlife
- Taking a GoPro on a zipline ride
- Shooting at the beach and on the river
- Visiting the rainforest
- Enjoying local products: coffee, chocolate, and more
- Managing your data in the field: storage cards and drives