5 Photographers on Their Unforgettable Trips to the Rainforest

Pictured: [1] Lucy Brown – loca4motion [2] Lucy Brown – loca4motion

Pro Tip

I’ve discovered beautiful, out-of-the-way places by asking locals about scenic areas, viewpoints, and trails when I’m traveling. I love hiking and follow any interesting looking pathways and trails to see where they lead. In more remote areas, I take a local guide.

It’s not always possible to stay cool and dry in tropical climates, but to avoid the intense heat, I often explore during early morning and late afternoon, which has the added bonus of beautiful light. If I have to go out in the heat, I travel light, take it slow, rest often, stay in the shade where possible, and keep well-hydrated. I’ve had heat stroke before, and it’s not something I wish to repeat!

I grew up in the countryside and was taught from an early age to be respectful of nature and wildlife. Littering is one of my pet peeves, so what goes into nature with me comes back out, barring my footprints. I keep my distance from wildlife, and, in areas where snakes are endemic, I tread heavily to avoid startling slippery serpents and myself!

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3. “It’s good to be cautious and respectful and always make sure to have the necessary permits.”

Jan Ziegler

5 Photographers on Their Unforgettable Trips to the Rainforest — Be Respectful

Image by Jan Ziegler. Gear: Nikon D750 camera, Nikon 70-200mm 2.8 lens. Settings: Focal length 120mm; exposure 1/320 sec; f13; ISO 1250.

What’s the story behind this photo?

I spent the day exploring tucked-away parts of the lush island of Bioko in Equatorial Guinea. I was scouting locations to return to later to shoot at a better time of day when we drove across a bridge and spotted this old abandoned bridge parallel to the new one we were on. Though I wanted to get closer, the deep, overgrown valley meant there was no safe way to walk across. Undeterred by my location or the suboptimal lighting, I used my vantage point on the new bridge to capture this image.

5 Photographers on Their Unforgettable Trips to the Rainforest — Get Permission to Shoot

Image by Jan Ziegler.

Pro Tip

My process is quite straightforward. The most important thing is to have a knowledgeable and reliable guide who knows the dangers of the particular area you want to photograph. Central Africa is very humid, rainy, and hot, which can take its toll on your physique if you don’t plan ahead. Dressing appropriately for the environment and carrying essentials, like fresh water and a basic first aid kit, will definitely help. I enjoy working close to the beach, so the tide is always something we have to factor in to prevent getting cut off on our way back.

Finding unique places is probably the hardest part because it requires either a lot of exploring or lots of conversations with people who know the area well and are maybe even into photography themselves. It’s good to be cautious and respectful and always make sure to have the necessary permits. Doing a bit of research ahead of time to learn what areas might be off-limits or sensitive for cultural reasons can save you from an awkward or dangerous interaction.

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4. “Always have the camera ready.”

Dr Morley Read

5 Photographers on Their Unforgettable Trips to the Rainforest — Always be Ready

Image by Dr Morley Read. Gear: Sony A6300 camera, Canon 100mm macro IS lens, twin flash. Settings: F16; ISO 100.

What’s the story behind this photo?

This is from one of my latest trips to the Nangaritza Valley in the Cordillera del Condor in southern Ecuador. The Cordillera del Condor is only recently becoming known to biologists, but, at the same time, vast tracts of land have been handed out by the government to mining companies.

Research has revealed extremely rich plant and animal diversity with many endemic species not found anywhere else in the world. The flat-topped sandstone mountains in the area bear both a physical and floristic similarity to the Tepuis of Venezuela on the other side of the continent.

5 Photographers on Their Unforgettable Trips to the Rainforest — Know Your Location

Image by Dr Morley Read.

We were camped on a mountain for two weeks. Our objective was to document the amphibian fauna and look for undescribed frog species as well as bring back live specimens for a captive breeding program. We found this weird-looking Ecuador Horned Treefrog (Hemiphractus bubalus) on our first night.

Pro Tip

Always have the camera ready. This was the first frog I saw on the first night of the trip. It is a very rare species, and we didn’t see it again. You need to be agile to capture shots like this before the animal has a chance to move away.


5. “Talk to local people to find the best spots, and hire a guide or just go on jungle walks for tourists.”

Wouter Tolenaars

5 Photographers on Their Unforgettable Trips to the Rainforest — Talk to Locals

Image by Wouter Tolenaars. Gear: Olympus E-3 camera, Zuiko 50-200mm f/2.8-3,5 ED SWD lens. Settings: Focal length 200mm; exposure 1/200 sec; f3,5; ISO 100.

What’s the story behind this photo?

When I was in Costa Rica, there was one animal I really wanted to photograph: the red-eyed tree frog. I don’t know why, but for some reason, this small frog was what came to mind when I thought of Costa Rica. I saw a lot of green and strawberry dart frogs during my round trip, but no red-eyed tree frog.

On the last week, however, I was in a jungle resort, sitting by the pool drinking my cocktail, when, all of a sudden, I saw something moving on a false bird of paradise flower. When I walked up to it, there was this small red-eyed tree frog looking at me. It made me realize that it’s not always about the planning and the hard work you put in; sometimes, you just have to be in the right place at the right time.

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