January 13, 2009 ·

Michael Reichmann

This file contains some useful information for Workshop participants. Whether you’re a relative beginner to wildlife work or an old hand, I’m confident that you will find both useful and necessary information on this page. If you have any questions about these, or any other issues, please don’t hesitate tocontact me.

Clothing, Packing and Weather

We will be traveling in Costa Rica both by small plane, river boat and mini-bus. While all of these means of transport will be comfortable, all have a premium on space for luggage and camera equipment. The watchword on this trip is‚ travel light.

A moderate-sized suitcase for your clothes and a single small-medium camera bag for your photographic gear is what’s needed. If you are bringing a small tripod, make sure that it packs inside your suitcase. Film should be hand-carried on all flights in a separate bag. In-country it can be placed in your suitcase.

The weather in Costa Rica in February will be hot and dry. You may want to consider a light-weight rain poncho or windbreaker for our time in the cloudforest. 

Howler Monkey‚ Costa Rica, 2001

 Camera Gear

Cameras. Bring whatever equipment you wish to use. Just remember that everything (except your tripod) must fit in a single camera bag and that I suggest a backpack style bag. Let me know if you need advice on bags. I use and recommend theLowePro Treckerseries. Whatever bag you have, make sure that it will fit in an airplane overhead. You don’t want to have to check a soft camera case as luggage!  

Think about bringing a second camera body. There are several reasons for this. When shooting in a remote location like this if your only body packs it in, you’re plain out of luck. If you have a mid-level body now, depending on your budget you might want to consider getting a high-end body next. Or, if you already have a top-of-the-line body consider getting a mid-level as your second.

Lenses. A long lens in the range of 400mm is ideal. Zooms are fine. Don’t be compulsive about lens quality. It’s better to have an affordable Sigma or Tokina than not to have an ultra-expensive lens from your camera maker. Guess which one will take better pictures?   The one that you can bring with you on this trip. A macro lens will also find lots of use.

Airports and X-rays.As noted above, I put all of my film, exposed as well as unexposed, in large zip-lock freezer bags. I request a hand inspection when passing through airport security and the see-through bags make this hassle-free so long as the cardboard boxes have been discarded. But, if I forget to ask for a hand inspection, or get refused, I don’t worry because repeated tests by me and others have convinced me that airport X-ray machines are perfectly safe.

But, do not under any circumstances place your film in checked baggage! There are now baggage X-Ray machines in use that will definitely fog your film. Always hand carry your film on the plane with you.

Flash. This is a must for wildlife photography in the rainforest. We’ll be providing you with a "Better Beamer" flash extender and showing you how to use it.

There are bound to be other items and suggestions. In the months ahead if I add anything new here I’ll be sure to let you know via the Forum. Do print this page out and use it as a check list, both for this trip and for any others you might take.

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Michael Reichmann is the founder of the Luminous Landscape. Michael passed away in May 2016. Since its inception in 1999 LuLa has become the world's largest site devoted to the art, craft, and technology of photography. Each month more than one million people from every country on the globe visit LuLa.

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