Photographing animals in the rain forest is difficult to say the least. Even in daylight with the sun shining, the canopy of leaves lets very little light through into the forest. This can be problematic for the photographer as light is our friend. When we have enough light, then we can use higher shutter speeds. Thus, we can hand hold the camera and not worry about holding it as steady. When there is low light, as in the rainforest, we have to use slower shutter speeds to allow enough light into the camera to form the picture. With slow shutter speeds we are more susceptible to camera jiggle and blurry pictures. You might ask why we don’t use a tripod to hold the camera very still. Well, it won’t help if the subject of our photo is moving. All of this is just the beginning of why photographing animals, specifically monkeys, is very difficult in the rainforest.
So, what is it about the monkeys that make photographing them difficult (aside from the low light of the rainforest)? Monkeys reside high in the trees. So, when shooting them, they can be silhouetted against the sky, behind a branch or leaves, or have a dark treetop as their background. They are also quick, jumping from branch to branch before you have a chance to focus. Even with everything seemingly against us, we did have some mild successes.
There are typically three types of monkeys in the Costa Rican rainforest: the Capuchin (medium sized with white faced with black bodies), the Howler (chestnut brown with crested fur on their faces), and Squirrel monkeys (grey and reddish brown and not much bigger than a squirrel). On our previous visit to this rainforest, we saw all three types, the Squirrel Monkey being the toughest to spot. On this trip we saw only the other two types. But interestingly enough we saw them not from the national park but right from the deck of our villa. After days of disappointment in not seeing monkeys, we figured thus may not be our time. While downloading and editing photos from our morning shoot, I saw some rustling in the leaves afar. We grabbed our cameras and ran to the deck. An entire troop of Capuchins went by one by one. When I say they went by, I mean they were high up in the trees walking from brach to branch. It seems that when monkey troops move, they follow each other in a line, taking the same “path” of branches and vines through the tree tops. This helps us, the photographer, anticipate where the next monkey may appear in a break of foliage for a possible photo opportunity.
Here are a few monkey shots. Enjoy.
Thanks for reading.
Interesting butterflies and spiders next.