Costa Rica Gallery Número Dos

While travelling in Costa Rica, I became aware of the work of Bence Máté, a Hungarian wildlife photographer. One of the lodges where we stayed had his bird photography book “The Invisible Wildlife Photographer”, which features some photos that immediately became my favourite bird images of all time. The reason why I am mentioning this book is that it has some thoughtful commentary on the ethics of “staged” nature photography. The truth is that many of the best wildlife images that one sees has some element of set-up to them. We all know that it’s probably not a good idea to feed wild baboons, lions and great white sharks. But in the case of wild birds, the line is less clear (to me at least). From the simple seed and fruit feeders in our gardens, to the thousands of hummingbird feeders all over the Americas, to the vulture restaurant in South Africa’s Golden Gate National Park and the fish being thrown to Steller’s sea eagles on the drift ice off the coast of Japan – Saul and I have encountered many different examples of birds being fed to attract them for viewing and for photography.

Anyway, before I write an essay instead of a gallery intro, let’s just say that both of us have been pondering some of this, partly because Costa Rica is the first place where we’ve ever participated in set-up wildlife photography beyond the kind that involves feeding birds. It’s a bit of a minefield and my only clear conclusion so far is that one needs to be honest about how images were obtained. So with this in mind, I’ve included one or two photos that show the context of a reptile and frog photo shoot that we did at a wonderful lodge called Laguna del Lagarto in the far north of Costa Rica, 15km from the Nicaraguan border. They have a snake handler called Diego, who catches snakes and frogs from the lodge’s private reserve and surrounding farms for use in these sessions. The frogs are something akin to catch-and-release (he caught them in the day or two before the session and released them into the forest while we were watching). The snakes are kept for longer, but not for more than 2 months (according to what we were told).

As for the monkeys, they were all photographed over the course of 2 days in a national park setting (Manuel Antonio NP) and no sleeping bats were woken up or fed during the creation of this gallery!

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4 Responses

  1. Gramps says:

    Thanks for the cool Toucan pic – brilliant colours! Also pretty neat hovering Jacobin shot (not that knew it was a Jacobin before reading the caption). Some really good work!

  2. Jean says:

    Incredible pics – Love the toucans. Snake and frog pics amazing too. Mike as green as the poison dart frog with envy!

  3. Daniel P. says:

    Beautiful photographs of my favourite creatures. Thank you. Statement of ethics around canned photography appreciated. Does not diminish the beauty. Enjoy!

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