It was a lot to pack into eight days
but Mike Shane and I were up for the challenge that included two days of
Rainforest photography, one night session in the jungle, one day inshore
fishing, one day off shore fishing, one day kayak fishing and two days walking
around our property on Osa Eden.
The goals were ambitious - to see if
we could capture stunning images of the following:
- All four species of Monkeys (White face,
Spider, Squirrel and Howler) – CHECK
- Multiple species of birds (especially Scarlet
McCaw’s) – CHECK
- Sloths (both three and two toed) – CHECK
- Snakes (four species, two venomous) – CHECK
- Frogs (several species including a poison dart
frog) – CHECK
- Insects (too many to count) – CHECK
- Whales (a Blue Whale nursing it’s calf) –
- Dolphin (many that were feasting on a bait
ball offshore) – CHECK
- Targeted fish (Tuna, Cubera, Roosterfish,
Jacks, & Grouper oh my) – CHECK
- Marine birds eating bait - CHECK
- DroneBoy photos from the top of the Osa
Peninsula – CHECK
- Scenic shots from every location – CHECK
For me to spend
time with two exceptionally talented photographers (Mike Shane and Dennis
Atencio) was a privilidge but I learned very quickly…
1. How inferior my camera equipment is (compared
2. How truly deficient my photography skill level
is (oh boy).
3. How much more I need to practice to raise my
game as a photographer.
4. How incredibly unlimited the Osa Peninsula is
as one of the greatest places on earth to photograph wildlife (on land or at
The measurement guy has identified the top 10 elements that great photographers
need to assure stunning photos.
1. Habitat (the Osa Peninsula in Costa Rica is
the most bio-diverse place on earth).
2. Passion and intense desire (just like anything
else, you have to be somewhat driven to be successful).
3. Talent (the vision and critical eye to compose
4. Knowledge and Experience (Local expertise with
where to go and when to go to see the best wildlife).
5. Equipment (high quality digital cameras and
6. Technology (auxiliary lighting systems for shooting
at night and software to edit final work).
7. Skill (to manage all the equipment quickly
with the ideal camera settings).
8. Perseverance and patience (to wait for the
9. Coaching and assistance (to make up for any of
the above deficiencies or to provide “a helping hand”).
10. Luck (which can often make up for many of the
other elements listed above).
The Attached photos include a “small
sample” of what we captured as we easily shot over 16,000 photos.
Day 1: Rainforest
trip to Matapolo and Carate (Monkeys, Birds and frogs OH MY!).
As we drove out to the end of the Osa
Peninsula, we were treated to sightings of all four Monkeys that inhabit Costa
Rica as well as many-many species of birds.
The most incredible part of the day
occurred after 3:00 PM when we had over 50 Scarlet McCaw’s taking turns
feasting on the seeds of a mature Royal palm tree. This convergence allowed us
to set up our tripods and capture multiple birds on the cluster of seeds and to
capture them in flight as they both landed and took off from the tree.
Day two: We started out at Dennis Atencio’s
Grandfather’s property in the neighboring community of La Palma where a mini
oasis has been created on approximately 30 acres to attract and support many
diverse species of plants, insects, birds, reptiles, amphibians and mammals.
All total, we observed a “Noah’s Arc Boat Load” of creatures including 6
sloughs that we were fortunate to get some great close-up photos.
Sloths move soooooo slow that Moss actually accumulates on their fir.
The afternoon session was conducted on
top of a mountain ridge (on Edwardo’s property), in the small – remote
community of Guadalupe. Here, the focus was on snakes and amphibians.
Our timing was perfect as we located two
species of Boa Constrictors (non-venomous) and Two species of pit vipers (aka
DEADLY). They were all very cooperative
and we managed to “safely” get up close and personal with our Macro lenses and
lighting systems to achieve some Nat Geo quality photos.
The night session began with a Pit
Viper encounter that reminded us all why it’s NEVER a good idea to venture into
the Rainforest at night without a seasoned-local guide.
As we were walking on a trail with our
headlamps on, FORTUNATELY Edwardo spotted a deadly “eyelash” viper on a large
leaf that was positioned exactly at shoulder level. It would have been
incredibly easy to just walk by this plant, brush the leaf with your shoulder
and have the pit viper nail you in the neck.
Basically, if this happens you
have about three hours left to live without very specific antivenom treatment
at a local hospital (that just so happens to be located 2.5 hours away). Lesson
We then were treated to several
species of frogs that allowed us to set up a mini studio (with reflective diffused
lighting) to get some Nat Geo quality level portraits.
Inshore fishing with Captain Cory
The morning started slowly but ramped
up by mid-day with Mike and I catching a total of 11 different species of fish.
For Mike (who is professionally a Marine Biologist at Scripps Research in San
Diego), this proved to be his finest day ever recreationally fishing where he
managed to check off 6 new species of fish including a 20-pound Roosterfish, a spectacular
Cubera Snapper in the 30-pound class and a muscular Amber Jack that practically
pulled him off the bow of the boat.
Day 4: Rest Day
to recover and to take photos around Osa Eden
Day 5: An
After precuring our bait for the day,
we had the report of Yellowfin tuna being sighted offshore about 10 miles from
Matapolo Rock. Just as we took off to head offshore, I saw out of the corner of
my eye a whale that had come up for air.
We turned the boat quickly and had the privilege of slowly cruising
behind a Mother Blue Whale and her calf just as Mom was nursing.
The most amazing photo was not of the whales
breaching or their tails coming out of the water but it was of the Mother
Whale’s MASSIVE blow holes that were briefly exposed as she took in air before
her next dive.
As we then left the whales alone to
continue their nursing, it took us about 40 minutes to arrive at the Tuna
Running out against a stiff headwind, when we did arrive, we became
spectators to a classic bird, dolphin and tuna massacre. With our first drops
and casts, we immediately hooked up with two big fish on both a topwater plug
and live bait.
At one point after we landed three
fish in the 40 to 60 pound class,
Mike and I were both hooked up and Cory
decides to do something really stupid… He casts a popper from a spinning rod into
the middle of the bait ball frenzy and sure enough, he hooks up with another
monster (he just couldn’t resist the temptation). Now there were three of us running around the
boat in different directions doing the “over under – around and through three step”
in an attempt to keep our lines from crossing and breaking off each other’s
Somehow, we managed to land all three
fish that came in around 50, 60 and 70 pounds respectively. After we got all
three aboard, I made another cast and witnessed a true monster come up and
massacre my topwater popper. It probably
was a Yellowfin in the 150-pound class and I was relieved that I didn’t
actually hook it – so I could avoid the subsequent three hour sufferfest that
surely would have followed.
me, the beast managed to rip the front treble hook completely off my topwater
popper and thus lived to torture another angler on another day.
All total, the offshore count was 11
Yellowfin landed including four that were released.
Whereas we could have
stayed there all afternoon and caught a ridiculous number of trophy Yellowfin,
we decided to head back inshore and try to get mike hooked up to a prize
Roosterfish along my favorite section of beach located just in front of the
Once again, Captain Cory had our
favorite spot produce as Mike finished the day landing a beautiful Rooster in
the 20-pound class.
It was really special for me to
participate with Mike as these two days on the water with Cory were both the
best fishing experiences of his life.
Day 6: Kayak Fishing with Captain Tosh
Of course, I went public to put
pressure on Tosh to achieve the ultimate goal kayak fishing and that was to
catch and document close up photos of a trophy Roosterfish in the surf along
After securing some bait behind “Spit
or Swallow” from Texas (I know, you can’t make this up),
Mike was first to get
hooked up with what turned out to be a 30-pound class Jack that towed he and
Tosh around the gulf for about 45 minutes.
I then hooked up with something really
big that proceeded to immediately break another one of my St. Croix spinning
rods (I think I’ve now managed to break 7).
Unfortunately, I lost the fish but
just then, Mike hooked into another big fish that actually took him close to
the beach along the north section of Crocodile Bay.
We beached the Kayaks and Mike fought
the fish for quite a while before we finally had it close enough to see that it
was a Jack in the 20-pound class.
Just as we completed the photography
session with Mike’s fish, Tosh decided to cast a live moonfish about 25 Ft from
shore (at the abrupt edge of the drop off) and sure enough, something devours
it and speeds off out to the middle of the bay.
I grab the rod and based upon the
initial high-speed run conclude that it can only be a Roosterfish and as I fought
the fish for quite a while, it clearly didn’t want to come into the shallow
water between the drop off ledge and shore.
After the fish finally comes in
“within guide range,” it was really-really hot and after three attempts, Tosh
managed to do a classic “rodeo-grab hold” of the tail.
Once the fish finally calmed down, we
were able to get some really fine close-up portraits before we released it for
the opportunity to treat another angler.
Mission accomplished as we managed to
achieve the lofty goal of landing a Roosterfish on the beach for some classic
“in the water” photos.
A few parting
Mike, now known in Costa Rica as “El
Orkin” because of his photography skills in capturing Bug photos, managed to
take this close-up shot of an exceptionally strong Leafcutter Ant as he was
showing off hiking back to the nest with a buddy on board.
Given that we only had 8 days on the
Osa, we packed in as much outdoor adventures as our aging bodies would allow.
This photo is a classic beach scene
from Carate where at this time of year there tends to be more cloud cover and
as a result, cooler temperatures and better photography opportunities 😊.
ALSO THAT THERE ARE NO PEOPLE FOR MILES ANYWHERE (which is very typical).
Much more to follow as Katie and I
gear up for another cross-country trip in our RV from August 9th to
As Always, Plan your trips…