2015—Costa Rica—Red-Eyed Tree Frog
I’m home but I am still riding the wave of euphoria that has enveloped me since I arrived at Luna Lodge on the Osa Peninusula in Costa Rica on January 18. The Osa Peninsula is a magical place. Its lush green beauty and the creatures that inhabit it are a photographer’s dream destination. In the coming days, I hope to share some of my experiences in both words and photographs. In Focus Daily has been on hiatus for the past week. Because I knew that the internet connection at Luna Lodge was not reliable, my plan was to prepare daily posts and publish them all on my return. That did not happen. Each day was filled with so much activity that leisure time was nominal. The group numbered eleven, including Moose, Sharon (AKA Mrs. Moose), and Kevin. As is typical on a K&M Adventure, we were up before the sun rose, we gathered for each meal and discussed the day, we shot and reviewed, and we parted company late in the evening to prepare our camera gear and ourselves for the next day’s activity. The humidity took its toll on our bodies and cool showers and head-dunkings were necessary more than once a day so I had no extra time to spend writing my blog or even deciding which photos were blog-worthy.
I’m starting with a couple of my favorite shots from the first day…actually the first night. After dinner Sunday evening, Moose announced that we were going on our first photo shoot. Everything about it was a unique experience. We had thirty minutes of instruction and practice using Moose’s macro technique which is bracing the camera held in the right hand against the left shoulder, looking through the view finder with the LEFT eye, manually focusing by moving the body fore and aft, hand holding the flash unit set to remote with the left hand passing under the right hand to the right side of the body aiming it at the subject, and pressing the shutter release which triggers the flash, illuminating the subject. This is not an easy to master technique and because I wear mono vision contact lenses, I couldn’t see to manually focus with my left eye and didn’t listen when Kevin suggested changing the diopter setting on my camera’s viewfinder (I later did so and discovered it worked-I should have listened). I struggled and finally decided to use my right eye which made things extremely awkward.
We donned headlamps and strode, single file, into the darkness of the rainforest illuminating a narrow, wet, slippery, leaf-covered, root crisscrossed, steep path to the frog ponds, after a warning to stay on the trail because thar be poisonous snakes. With the steamy, jungly, dense vegetation and the deafening, high-pitched whining of the cicadas surrounding us, there was no doubt we were in the midst of the rainforest. During our hour and a half long treacherous trek, we encountered lots of frogs, a young tarantula, and even a small snake eating a frog. But the highlight of our trek, for me, was the red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas), a small, two inch, iconic rain-forest amphibian which is often a symbol of Costa Rica. As we jostled for position to photograph the frog, which Gary, our wonderful guide, found and placed atop a monstera leaf, I bumped my camera against my right eye, dislodging my contact lens. I thought my lens had dropped to the trail but the gods were with me and I felt it on my cheek. I carefully placed it in my pocket (I wear hard contacts) and, from then on, I was essentially blind, seeing only blurry images through my viewfinder and guessing when things were in focus. Most weren’t but I managed to get these two images of this adorable, cooperative, red-eyed tree frog in focus.