Costa Rica Wildlife Photography Workshop

The Adventure Of A Lifetime!

Update – the first week sold out in a matter of hours, and now the second week is sold out as well. Due to overwhelming demand, we talked with the resort and have added an additional four weeks – two in July and two in Aug/Sept (current date availability listed after the itinerary below)  These are already filling fast however, so book sooner rather than later. Workshop dates are below. 

I’m excited to announce our new Costa Rica Wildlife Photography Workshop!  This once-in-a-lifetime photo workshop will take place on Costa Rica’s beautiful Osa Peninsula, a location National Geographic calls, “The most biologically intense place on Earth.” An impressive claim, but just a few hours on site is enough to make a believer out of any skeptic. In fact, I think the National Geographic statement may not do it justice!

As a full-time wildlife photographer, I’ve been to more than a few incredible locations, but I have to tell you – I’ve never experienced an environment that was so incredibly target rich and diverse as the Osa Peninsula. This is truly a workshop experience that you will always remember! When I went to evaluate the location for a potential workshop, I never dreamt I would end up shooting over 14,000 images in just under a week’s time!

And I want you to share that experience with me. In fact, I created the video below to give you an overview of what the resort is like, as well as some of the places we’ll be going on our excursions. Take a look:

 

What can you see and photograph? Although there are never any guarantees with wildlife, it’s very likely you’ll see quite a few of the species listed below – heck, you may see them all and then some! In fact, the Osa Peninsula harbors 2.5% of the biodiversity on the planet, even though it only covers less than 1/1000th of 1% of the surface area of the earth! There are over 463 species of birds and 140 species of mammals – think of it as Disneyland for wildlife photographers! For just a small sample of what I captured, check out the Costa Rica gallery here.

Here’s a short list of some of the more common species you’re likely to encounter.

Howler Monkeys
White-Faced Monkeys
Squirrel Monkeys
Spider Monkeys
Sloths (two / three toed both live in the area)
Anteaters
Toucans
Scarlet Macaws (largest population in Central America)
Tree Frogs (various – but especially the Red-Eyed Tree Frog, possibly dart frogs as well)
Lizards / Iguanas
Parrots / Parakeets
Various Raptors (Caracaras, Common Black Hawk, Etc)
Snakes (professionally handled)
Various Songbirds (Cherry, Golden-Hooded And Blue-Grey Tanagers are right at the resort!)
Hummingbirds (tons of fun)

And that’s just a taste – you never know what you’ll see!

As for the workshop itself, the goal is twofold. First, I want YOU to fill your memory cards with as many incredible shots as possible in the time we have and I will do everything in my power to make that happen. Second, I want to teach you as much as I can about wildlife photography.

As a dedicated wildlife photographer, more than 90% of the images I capture each year are of wildlife. I’m a specialist, and when it comes to getting critters on your memory cards, I have a wealth of tips and tricks up my sleeve that will help you accomplish that goal. Also, and as many of you already know, teaching photography is what I do – just check out my extensive collection of blog posts and videos to get an idea of how I convey myself and my information.

 

In this workshop, I’ll not only help you get the shot, but I’ll also share tips and tricks you can use to capture the special moments of any wildlife encounter. We’ll look at everything from camera settings to techniques to post-processing – it’s the whole package, and I think you’ll really enjoy it. At each wildlife encounter, I’ll be there to guide you and assist in capturing those wall-hangers! Also, while I may take a shot here and there, during the workshop, I’m NOT there for my own photos, but for YOUR photos. I’ve heard of nightmare workshops where the instructor was more interested in his or her own photos than that of the participants – that is NOT the case here. YOUR images are the priority for everyone involved.

 

In addition, we’ll also have three professional guides along to help locate wildlife – and let me tell you, their ability to find wildlife borders on the supernatural (you’ll see for yourself that last line isn’t just marketing hype). I pride myself on my ability to spot wildlife, but these guys put me to shame. They know the area and can consistently locate and hone in on wildlife of all sorts. Plus, they are super-knowledgeable about every aspect of the rainforest; from fauna to flora, they can tell you all about it. Oh, and they are a blast to hang out with – you’re gonna love ‘em!

Finally, our home base will be Crocodile Bay Resort – and it’s just fantastic! The property itself is beautiful, and the truth is, you can (and do) see just about every animal I mentioned on the list above. Some of my best shots were captured right there at the resort, and some of our shooting will take place there. Heck, on our last morning there I was shooting howler monkeys that were less than 20 feet from my bathroom window. (In fact, I was slightly concerned they might try to join me!) Plus, the staff there is jaw-droppingly outstanding. Everyone is super-friendly and always makes you feel welcome. I wish all resorts were this good!

Here’s the rundown from start to finish:

Itinerary

Day 1 Arrive in San Jose Costa Rica 

On the first day, you’ll fly into San Jose, Costa Rica (most flights arrive in the late afternoon or evening) and enjoy a night at the beautiful Double Tree hotel. It’s an incredible facility and gives you the perfect opportunity to sit back, relax, hang out by the pool, and get a good night’s sleep.

Day 2 Arrive At Crocodile Bay Resort 

This is where the fun really starts! You’ll fly over on a small 12 seat “puddle jumper” in the morning, enjoying incredible views along the way. (Keep your cameras out!)

We will all meet at the dining room for some brief introductions and a delicious lunch. From there, we’ll head to the conference center where I’ll have a presentation about how to photograph the wildlife of Costa Rica. Wildlife photography in Costa Rica can be a challenge and I want you to be thoroughly prepared when the action starts unfolding in your viewfinder. When the amazing moments happen, I want you to know EXACTLY what to do to secure the shot. After all, you don’t want to miss an incredible photo because you weren’t fully instructed beforehand!

If we have time after the presentation, we’ll walk the property and try to test out some of the techniques discussed in the presentation. From there, it’s off to dinner and bed (you’ll need a good night’s sleep!)

Day 3 – Full Day Of Shooting 

Today we’ll head out to the countryside first thing in the morning  and discover some incredible wildlife with our expert guides. We’ll enjoy traveling in a set of 4WD Land Cruisers that can get us everywhere we need to go. Throughout the day, we’ll be driving through different locations and stopping along the way when we see interesting wildlife (some days, it’s so active we stop every 10 to 15 minutes). There’s no telling what we’ll see on a given day, but the diversity is incredible. 

Along the way, our guides will give a blow-by-blow of the forest and environment we’re driving through. We only ask that you keep your jaw off the floor of the truck 🙂

 
Day 4 – Shooting And Processing 

Today, we’ll head out bright and early in search of even more wildlife at our second location. After lunch at the resort, we’ll spend the afternoon looking at our images and doing some post-processing. The light in Costa Rica is incredibly tricky and getting great photographs involves not only getting the shot in the field but also properly post-processing the image for maximum impact. In this presentation, we’ll look at example after example of how to get the most from your images once you’re back home. I’ll even take a few “volunteer” photos from the group and show you how I would post process them.

After dinner, we have a special treat planned. We’ll be doing an AWESOME night shoot that I KNOW you’ll love! We’ll go out, armed with our macro lenses and guides, to find various frogs, lizards, and who-knows-what as we explore after dark. You’ll learn tons of exciting new techniques that will make you a night-shooting addict!

Day 5 – Multiple Options Day 

During the workshop, I will try to give everyone as much attention as I can, but today is the day you can schedule one-on-one time with yours truly! We can go over techniques, post-processing, or just walk around the main resort property and shoot.

You can also use this time to schedule in one of the many other activities at the resort – and there is a lot to do!  However, please be aware that extra fees apply for most of these activities. You can indulge in a day of sport fishing (this place is world-renowned for its sport fishing), head out and do some zip lining, head to the local wildlife sanctuary (captive animals), take a tour of the new butterfly house, or even take a chocolate farm tour – and that’s just the tip of the iceberg! Click here for a complete list!

However, don’t think you get the entire day off – we’ll also be doing another night shoot after dinner if you’re up for it! 


Day 6 – Full Day Of Shooting 

Today we’re up bright and early again and off to one of my favorite locations where we’ll discover even more wildlife! You’ll have the opportunity to photograph a variety of snakes (wild snakes that are in the hands of a professional handler and released when we’re done), various frogs (possibly even poison dart frogs), and a large variety of birds as well.

It’s at the top of a mountain overlook and the variety will keep your shutter snapping the entire time. I captured some of my favorite images in this location on the last trip and it’s by far one of my favorite spots!

Day 7 -Shooting and Sharing 

On our last day, we’ll once again head out in the morning for a half day of photography. From there, it’s back to the resort for lunch, and we’ll spend the rest of the afternoon sharing our best images.

Day 8 – Fly back to San Jose and home 

You’ll be up bright an early today for your flight back to San Jose and than home.

Q&A

What dates are you going?

Well, we started out with just a single week but it sold out in a matter of hours – as did the second week. So we talked to the resort and added four more weeks (this is our max for 2018). Our current availability is as follows:

May 4-11, 2018 – Sold Out
May 12-19, 2018 – Sold Out

The dates below were just added, but the wait list has already filled nearly half of the slots. However, there are still some spaces available.

July 6-13, 2018 – Only 1  spot left
July 14-21, 2018 – Only 4 spots left
August 31- Sept 7, 2018 – Only 1 spot left
Sept 8 – 15, 2018  – Sold Out

What’s included?

  • All meals / food (provided at / from the resort – on full days, the resort packs us a cooler, you get to pick what you want them to pack)
  • Non-alcoholic drinks (provided at / from the resort)
  • Lodging throughout the workshop as outlined above. Note you can come early / stay later but your package only includes the nights for the workshop
  • Ground transportation
  • Flights from San Jose to the resort and back to San Jose

What’s not included?

  • Your flights from home to San Jose and from San Jose back home. 
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Excessive baggage fees
  • Gratuities / tips
  • Airline fees / insurance / passports / personal expenses
  • Any additional tours, activities etc. not expressly mentioned in the workshop
  • Any additional nights accommodations that take place beyond the time frame of the workshop dates (but it is cool to stay an extra day or two)
  • Laundry (there is an on-site laundry service)
  • Any emergency services, if necessary. (There has never been an evacuation in the history of the resort, rest easy).
  • Any meals you decide to have outside of the resort.
  • Any other expenses not explicitly covered in the “What’s Included” section above

Can my spouse / family member come and stay at the resort?

Yes. For an additional $1200 your spouse or family member can share your accommodations throughout the workshop, however, they will not be able to join you on any workshop activities. That said, keep in mind there are tons of other activities at the resort, or they can just kick back and relax while you’re participating in the workshop.

How many participants are in the workshop?

In order to give you the best experience possible, we’re limiting the number of participants to just 10 people. Booking will be done on a first come, first serve basis – nothing is hold unless a deposit has been placed. 

What should I wear?

The weather in Costa Rica is hot and humid. Like really hot and humid. Like, Florida in July, only hotter and more humid. And it likes to rain at least once a day. So, I recommend avoiding anything cotton – it just won’t dry and it will feel hot and icky (that’s the technical term BTW). I like dry-fit style shirts (I have some from Eddie Bauer that work well) and shorts (Columbia makes some nice options with their “Omni Wick” and “Quick Dry” water shorts). You can wear long pants if you like, however, make sure they are of the lightweight and fast drying variety.

When I go, I take the following:

Shorts
Short Sleeve Dry-Fit style shirts
Long Sleeve Dry Fit style shirts (for sun protection if we’re out on a sunny day – shirts with SPF protection are recommended)
Non-cotton undergarments (seriously, sweat-soaked underwear sucks)
Lightweight hat
2 pairs of lightweight hiking shoes (preferably waterproof)
Lightweight raincoat
Long socks (we sometimes use rubber boots provided by the resort and you’ll want a couple pairs of long socks)

What should I bring for photo gear?

Keep in mind this is a dedicated wildlife trip, so you’ll definitely want your big glass. Using full frame, you’ll want at least 300mm, however, I HIGHLY recommend 400mm ~ 500mm or more. One of the super zooms is a good choice like the Nikon 200-500, Sigma 150-600, Tamron 150-600, or Canon 100-400. If you happen to have a big prime take it – I was hesitant to bring my 600mm F4 and ended up using it quite a bit on my last trip.

I also HIGHLY recommend a macro lens – we’re going after quite a bit of wildlife that’s anywhere from dime to dollar size. Stick with a focal length of 100mm or longer. (Note – in a pinch you can certainly get by with most super zooms for macro work).

In addition, we’ll be doing some night photography, so a dedicated flash unit will be handy as well. Plus, there will likely be times you’ll want to use a bit of fill flash (I’ll show you how to do it).

I also highly recommend taking a short zoom for snapshots and it’s always possible a good landscape opportunity will crop up. Something like a 24-70 would be just fine.

Since it can be rainy at times, you also may want some sort of “rain jacket” for your gear (or at least borrow a towel from your hotel room).

In addition, you’ll likely want a tripod and monopod (I used both quite a bit, but you can probably get by with just one or the other).

When it comes to cameras, you’ll want as new of a DSLR as you can muster, preferably something from the last 3~4 years. We end up in a lot of tricky lighting scenarios, often requiring good dynamic range and good high ISO. So, the newer, the better. Any current Nikon or Canon is just fine.

Oh, and don’t forget extra memory cards and batteries!

What type of non-photography gear should I take?

You’ll want your laptop / card reader for sure – we take a TON of photos and you’ll want to offload them at night. I’d also recommend an additional backup device, such as an external hard drive or large memory card (I use a large SD card for backup and keep it on my person at all times).

You’ll also want:

  • A flashlight / headlamp
  • Bugspray (the bugs really aren’t bad at all – most of the time you won’t need it, but doesn’t hurt to have it)
  • Knee pads (optional)
  • Small reflector (optional)
  • Sunscreen (High SPF – the sun can be brutal)

Do I need to speak Spanish?

Not at all. I know about a dozen words in Spanish and I got along just fine. Everyone you will deal with speaks English.

Is it safe there?

Absolutely. Everyone is super friendly and never once did we feel “unsafe” in any way.

Is there a lot of hiking?

No, not on this workshop. Most of our photography is done near the vehicles, with some walking at the resort. Nothing too strenuous in any case.

Is the area packed with tourists?

Nope, not at all. Sure, there are visitors there, but I was amazed at just how few tourists were in the area. It’s one of the reasons I wanted to go to this location – no “competition” for critters!

Will there be opportunities other than wildlife?

Just to be 100% clear – this is a wildlife photography workshop, so the critters take precedent. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t grab a nice landscape or two while you’re down there. In fact, the docks are an incredible location for sunrise. 🙂

What’s the weather like?

We’re going to be down there at the end of their summer, so it’s hot but not as bad as it gets from Dec-April. Still, expect hot and humid conditions with rain likely. The good news is that we will likely have a good bit of overcast that will allow us to shoot all day in decent light.

Is any of this subject to change?

Yes – but it’s not likely. We may choose to rearrange / modify the schedule based on weather or unforeseen circumstances. I don’t see that happening, but if we get a day of solid, heavy rain we may shift things around a bit as needed. The primary goal is for YOU to get as many great images as possible, and any schedule change will be based on meeting that goal.

What’s the price?

The price is $4684 per person with a deposit of $1500 due upon booking. Again, this includes:

  • All meals / food (provided at / from the resort)
  • Non-alcoholic drinks (provided at / from the resort)
  • Lodging throughout the workshop as outlined above. Note you can come early / stay later but your package only includes the nights for the workshop
  • Ground transportation
  • Flights from San Jose to the resort and back to San Jose 
  • Single occupancy – Your own private room

Note that you will be responsible for the flight from your home to San Jose Costa Rica. Check with your favorite airline for current rates.

Also note that the rate for double occupancy (two workshop participants sharing a room) is lower per person, coming in at $8012 for two ($4006 each). So, get a friend to do the workshop with you and you both save!

What if I have questions? 

Send ’em to us via our contact form and we’ll get back to you as soon as you can. Note that this is only for questions – to sign up, use the form below. 

How do I sign up? 

Fill out the form below to start the signup process if you’re ready to book / put down your deposit. Thanks! 

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This entry was posted in Misc, Photo Trips.

17 Comments

  1. Cookie Segelstein November 21, 2017 at 11:42 pm #

    Hi Steve,
    I am so excited to be on this workshop! I even got my brother to come along. If we want to stay a day or two longer at Crocodile Bay, is it easy to just postpone our flight back to San Jose for our flight home?

    Thanks!

    Cookie

  2. Eric Harmon November 9, 2017 at 1:55 pm #

    I’m so excited to say that I just filled out the request form for me (and my wife as a tagalong).

  3. Tom Jones November 3, 2017 at 11:00 pm #

    Steve, I filled out the interest form for the two trips in August September and ready to put down deposit but I did not see a form to do it. Tom

  4. Kishore Bhargava October 28, 2017 at 4:55 pm #

    Hey Steve,

    This is a truly marvellous opportunity. I am really sad that I will not be able to attend this year. In my case I’d also have to add the travel from India to San Jose, I will just keep a look out for the results from the participants and maybe the next edition I will be able to join.

    All the very best to you and all the participants.

    Cheers…Kishore

    PS: keep up the excellent work.

  5. Win Robins October 26, 2017 at 6:45 pm #

    Steve: The pictures, as usual, are marvelous. Would you be good enough to tell us the details on the hummingbird images. What lens, what setting, what ISO? Did you use a flash? Did you use a triipod? A monopod?

    Thanks. Win

  6. John October 26, 2017 at 2:53 pm #

    Steve,
    I would like to attend. How much is the deposit and what are the terms?
    I have spent a good deal of time in Costa Rica. A good tip to offer your guests is to buy a bottle of whatever they like to drink ( assuming they like to drink ) duty free in the airport in San Jose. Liquor, even beer is fairly expensive in CR and seems like it goes up every time I go. The price in the duty free airport store is close to the US.
    John

    • Steve Perry October 26, 2017 at 5:37 pm #

      Hi John –

      It’s $1500 down with the balance due 90 days prior to the workshop.

      The first week booked up within hours and we added a second week – which is almost full too!

  7. Gary October 26, 2017 at 2:44 pm #

    Hi Steve

    My wife and I Iive in the UK, and we pay for our inter-continental vacation flights with Air Miles. To get free seats, we have to book a long way ahead of the flight. So, this time, We’ll have to pass because my 2018 trips were booked ages ago.

    Is there any chance you could announce your 2019 workshops earlier in 2018, so that we’d have a better chance of scheduling such a trip?

    Thanks,
    Gary

    PS – how’s the D850 review coming along?

    • Steve Perry October 26, 2017 at 5:38 pm #

      LOL, I’m lucky to be this far ahead of the game!

      However, once we have this going smoothly, I’ll probably be able to announce further out and will try to do so in the future.

      D850 review is coming along. Just a LOT of stuff with that camera – you’ll see what I mean when it gets posted 🙂

  8. Kevin Lohman October 26, 2017 at 4:26 am #

    Very interested! How many memory cards did you use to take 14,000 pictures? Would you recommend we bring a computer to offload images onto hard drives? Or will a (Mac) computer be available to allow us to move images from memory cards to hard drives? I will have a Nikon D850 which I have not had a chance to play with yet. And some Nikon lenses, including a 200-400, 1.4 extender, 70-200, 24-70, and 14-24 zoom lenses, and I guess a macro lens. Do you think those lenses will be good, or will a longer lens be needed? Wondering what I should be prepared for if I can make this happen.

    • Steve Perry October 26, 2017 at 2:25 pm #

      Hi Kevin –

      I used a pair of 64GB XDQ cards in the D5 and a XQD and SD in the D500 (and often would overflow). IMO, a laptop is a must for offloading. I offloaded to the laptop and then backed up to a large SD card and then my phone (so I can keep a backup with me at all times).

      The lens selection should be just fine – you’ll use the 200-400 (+TC) and macro the most for sure. A longer lens wouldn’t be a terrible idea. I used my 600mm all the time – although there were times I had to back up a bit (and others where it wasn’t enough – just depends what we find). The D850 will give you a lot of cropping options and probably be my main camera down there next time.

      Also, we are on a waiting list right now, the first week filled pretty quick. I’m working with the resort to get a second group in on the 13th. We already have that week over half full.

  9. Mathias Pfauwadel October 25, 2017 at 8:02 pm #

    Would love to go, but i can’t afford that sadly

  10. Fabrizio October 25, 2017 at 7:33 pm #

    Wow Steve, I wish I could afford the workshop, it would be like a humble priest of a remote town gets invited to dinner with the pope 😉 Too bad it’s out of my league for now, I hope you will host more workshops like this in the future.

  11. Torben Brix October 25, 2017 at 6:54 pm #

    Will there be any pre- or post events in US?
    I`m thinking of attending but I`m from Europe and will not be able to attend any related US events.
    Any other complications in not being an US citizent?

    Torben

    • Steve Perry October 25, 2017 at 10:34 pm #

      Hi Torben –

      The workshop is 100% in Costa Rica, nothing in the US.

  12. Bob October 25, 2017 at 3:45 pm #

    Hi, Steve.
    Thanks for your answer about Jeeps some time ago, and for your excellent books and website.

    Re Costa Rica workshop, one question. I have a crummy immune system so I want as much protection from bug-borne disease as is feasible. I have gear that should be adequate for daytime, but do you know whether the hotel has mosquito nets or AC?

    Bob

    • Steve Perry October 25, 2017 at 5:43 pm #

      Hi Bob –

      The hotel has AC for sure – you need it after a hot day out in the field. No nets though.

      That said, I was amazed at the lack of mosquitos and such down there (at least in the places we were). I expected it to be like strolling knee deep in a mosquito infested swamp in July, but it wasn’t bad at all. Only once did we bother with bug spray – most of the time they just didn’t bother anyone. In fact, we sat out on our balcony a couple of times at night and never got bit – and there was a bright lamp up in the corner. I certainly can’t pull off that trick here in OH!

      Hope that helps 🙂

      Steve

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