Making a dream come true.
In January 2021, I moved from my home in Buenos Aires Argentina to Costa Rica to live in the tropical rainforests. Moving from a densely populated urban environment to the lush tropical rain forest on the Gulf Dulce coast of the Pacific Ocean was a dream come true.
I always feel amazed by tropics because of their biodiversity. Rainforests are an open laboratory where you can discover the magic of nature and the magic of biological processes. As a passionate biologist, seeing the evolution and ecology of the tropics is an inspirational place for me to live and work.
A travelogue is a travel diary, but my journey is a special one because it does not have a final date. It is just the beginning of a new way to live my life, a way connected with I love the most and the most deeply feelings inside me… nature always was the path in my life, and I decided to make that connection completely real. Now I am part of the jungles and its pure magic.
My new home is La Cotinga Biological Station (www.lacotinga.com) in rainforests of southwestern Costa Rica, on the Osa Peninsula, on the Gulf Dulce coast. Osa peninsula is a place called by National Geographic as one of the hotspots of biodiversity. La Cotinga covers almost 40 hectares and is connected with two private nature reserves and lodges that connect with Corcovado National Park.
Tropical life is magical – the amazing biodiversity of the low land tropical rainforests always impresses me. The small insects living on wet leaves and close to the ground catch my eye. Exploring the ground and vegetation for new insects is exciting – from tiny ants to big cicadas. From animals resting on leaves to hunting situations, all I can witness is registered by my camera. The creatures hidden in the forest at night catch my attention even more. Frogs singing in the ponds, lizards sleeping on the leaves and snakes looking for prey are all submerged in the mystery of the night.
Someday a magazine writer defined me as someone that combines art, science, and esthetics. The fact is that I learned that in the art of interpreting nature lies the essence to create a link between science / knowledge and community. But if we can add the power of the images to make the people stop and use some of their time to learn about nature and to connect with it, the impact is even bigger. In essence my photographic work tries to bring to the public aspects of nature that are often little known but are still amazing. I believe that the power of images can be used as a tool for the “Conservation of Nature,” sensitizing and bringing society closer to the environmental issues that we are going through as humanity.
Life in my new home
I wake up every morning in a nature reserve, surrounded by vegetation and birds singing outside my windows. Enjoying the sky full of stars, without light pollution, experience the slow rhythm of life that occurs in a little town, are simple details of life that sometimes we forget. But today those little things make my life better.
I just can wear my boots and walk into the forest every day, looking for animals, situations, and details to photograph and capture with my camera
The goal behind La Cotinga is to restore land completely destroy for more than forty years by cattle raising. The forest was cut down and replace by grasslands, and the soil was compacted by cows. But now, the process of reforestation has begun. They are planting trees and restoring the tropical forests. That situation allows us not just to witness the process, and vegetation dynamics, but also analyze the changes on fauna that occur while the forest is slowly coming back.
I enjoy exploring the differences of the biodiversity of grasslands in recovery, secondary and primary forest. I focus on the smallest creatures that in general go unnoticed for most people. Insect macro-photography is my specialty. I delight is spotting and photographing the amazing diversity of arthropods, amphibians and reptiles found at Cotinga. My photography shows the awesomeness of these creatures and its ways of life.
A frog pond is near the scientist house where I live in the station. That spot is full of activity every night, specially now that the rainy season has started (May to November). You can feel immersed in the chorus of songs that males produce to find a couple. Several frog species and even more individuals give me the opportunity to experiment with my camera and flashes, to develop my creativity to create a variety of images. These different photos have visual impacts that allow me to transmit a message about the value of life generating empathy with species less consider when we talk about biodiversity.
Photographing the small world
Taking photographs in the rainforest is a great challenge because the conditions of light changing weather. The light filters among the little open spaces the leaves left, generating a really contrasting scenery with dark shadows and harsh lights. So, in these conditions it is really important to become an expert in lighting, knowing how to manage the natural light and combine that with artificial sources of lights too.
Photographing in the humid tropics is a continuous learning experience. We have to learn also how to find the small creatures hidden in the abundant rainforest vegetation. Costa Rica is famous for its large size fauna, as sloths, colorful birds, tapirs, and anteaters. Because most people don’t pay attention to the small world doesn’t mean that it doesn’t exist. All the animals I mentioned before are immensely outnumbered by tiny arthropods, such as insects, spiders, and millipedes. So, if we can adjust our eyes to find the beautiful but minute life, we will discover a new universe of behaviors, structures and colors to enjoy.
Something important in all kinds of photography, but also in macrophotography, to find a way to get more creative frames, and I believe something important is to explore different taking angles to get surprising and unseen frames. We can create different scenarios with our ability to manage the light. Just changing the direction of our source of light we will create outstanding and original atmospheres and moods.
Playing with the selective focus, that in macro-photography is almost a mandatory strategy to use because of the shallow depth of field, it will give us fantastic frames with a deep sense of three-dimensionality.
But remember, we can play around the subjects to get some beautiful frames, but we need to be aware that nature in all its forms needs to be respected. Even if our subjects are small and easy to manipulate, we need to always put nature first.
If you are interest in discovering the life hidden in these wonderful and intense lands and learn how to photograph in natural environments, just bring you boots, flashlight and camera, and we will explore Costa Rica’s rainforest, and create outstanding frames of its magnificent biodiversity.