The second AP Photography Holiday in partnership with Zoom Photo Tours to Costa Rica took place recently. The tour leaders and two participants recall a great trip with Geoff Harris
With travel getting easier, AP has teamed up with world-renowned tour specialist Zoom Photo Tours on a wide variety of trips, in the UK and abroad. This second trip, The Wildlife of Costa Rica, took place earlier in the year. It was led by photographers, artists and film makers Iris and Mattias Alexandrov Klum.
As top Swedish photographer Mattias explains, the tour stayed in the heart of the Costa Rican rainforests, in some great accommodation – including the San Gerardo De Dota Trogon Lodge and the Tarcoles Macaw Lodge. ‘You fall asleep and wake up to the remarkable voices of the rainforest. We tried to be quite general and holistic in our approach, since all the participants had different needs and requests. So we included anything from macro techniques and how to compose your frames to how to establish yourself in the realm of photography.’
So what did the students find the hardest and most challenging part of the trip? ‘Perhaps implementing the new knowledge and lessons we passed on,’ says Mattias. ‘When you see or experience something beautiful and exotic that you’ve never seen before, you tend to play it safe instead of trying out new ideas and techniques. But that will come later.’ Mattias and Iris also gave participants feedback on their images, including portfolio reviews and editing tips.
What are Mattias’s tips for making the most of a nature photography trip? ‘If you are after images of remarkable wildlife like monkeys, sloths and birds, long lenses and fast-focusing cameras with fast burst rates are of course very useful. If you’re into insects, reptiles, spiders and let’s say orchids, macro equipment and flash units will come in very handy, too.’
For this trip, Iris and Mattias Alexandrov Klum took the Fujifilm X-H2S and the high-resolution GFX 100S. The main lens for the X-H2S was the XF 150-600mm F5.6-8 R, while a wide range of GF lenses were used, from a 23mm prime to the 45-100mm F4 R zoom.
Feedback from Costa Rica holiday participants
Two AP readers were amongst the participants on the trip, William Malcolm and Sally Hooton. ‘Costa Rica has been high on my list on a long time – I am a novice photographer but was keen to go,’ said Sally. ‘As well as photography, we learned a lot about the environment and climate of Costa Rica, too.’ William is a more experienced photographer, but also got plenty out of the trip.
‘I’ve been interested in photography for decades and this Zoom tour was an incredibly good experience. We found it about as we subscribe to AP, and are now looking to go to Tanzania with Zoom Tours next year.’ As William explains, the photographic opportunities exceeded his expectations.
‘It was amazing, from the birds through to the big crocodiles and iguanas. The insects were great too. Every two or three nights we did night photography walks through the rainforest, another great experience. We learned lots about trying different things beyond the cliché shot, looking at the surroundings and being encouraged by Mattias to think about what’s different, what is there apart from that really nice bird sitting in a tree? Gear-wise, I took a Canon 600mm, which was great, but I found I couldn’t change lenses fast enough, so I’ve now invested in a Canon 100-500mm for more flexibility on such trips.’
Mattias and Iris form a creative partnership, so the trip wasn’t just about photographic capture, but editing too. ‘Iris is more the “artistic” side of the duo, and she did a lot on editing,’ Sally explains. ‘She was very instructive, particularly with the Snapseed app. They use Lightroom more, though, which Bill was using.’ Sally concludes by describing the trip as ‘life affirming.’ ‘Everyone was so generous with their time and looked after us so well. It was a steep learning curve for me, but I really recommend these tours.’
A full range of AP Photography Holidays with Zoom Photo Tours are scheduled for the rest of this year and into 2023, taking place in the UK and abroad. The choice is diverse: everything from photographing a deer rut with Tesni Ward in Bradgate Park in October 2022, through to photographing tigers in India with Steve Winter and volcanoes in Italy with Ulla Lohmann. Learn new skills and improve your photography, there’s something for all photographers!
Featured image: Tucan by Alexandrov Klum 1/100sec at f/9, ISO 800
Need some guidance on how to take better wildlife and animal photos? See our beginners guide to wildlife photography here.