Photography in the Rainforest

Discussion in 'Geographic Location' started by BradS, Nov 6, 2006.

  1. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    I'll be returning to Ecuador again this winter. This time, we'll be travelling down the Napo river aboard a river boat. There will be day hikes into the jungle.

    As this is not primarily a photo trip, I'll be travelling light (photographically) and only plan to bring a 35mm SLR and a few lenses at most.

    I'm wondering what to expect. There just isn't much written about the jungle from a photographer's point of view. Anybody have any suggestions or stories to share?
     
  2. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    HAving done a rainforest in Venezuela, take a very non permeable outfit with you. I froze my butt off in a downpour that I thought only a jacket would protect me. Also have plenty of good cover for your camera. They make those funky little rain jacket thingys for cameras. Take silicon dry packets with you. A cheap source is a shoe store. They usually have lots that they end up throwing away, that were in the shoe boxes. Take plastic bags that seal tight to put things like your film into. Warm shoes that are waterproof. Extra socks. Baseball cap that won't fall apart in the rain. Gloves, it gets cold in the downpours. Dress in layers. When it stops raining it gets hot and very humid like a steam bath. Have fun. I would do it all again in a heart beat.
     
  3. naturephoto1

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    Hi Brad,

    No tripod? In any case, as Aggie has alluded, you may want to look into the Ewa rain cape to keep the camera dry. If taking a tripod consider a good case like the Think Tank Bazooka that I just posted about:

    http://www.apug.org/forums/showthread.php?t=33539

    Also, if taking the camera and tripod, consider big bags (heavier mill) to place over the camera and tripod to protect the rig until the rain stops.

    You may want to consider an eVent rather than a Gortex shell and a an eVent or Gortex base ball type or other hat. eVent breathes better than Gortex.

    As Aggie says bring/dress in layers, you may want a light fleece or wool sweater to keep warm when it is raining and cools. Extra socks definitely.

    Follow a lot of Aggies'additional comments.

    Have fun. Look forward to seeing some of the photos.

    Rich
     
  4. Aggie

    Aggie Member

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    I forgot one little trick as well. Take some garbage bags with you. They fold up very small, and make great ground cover while you put your bag down for a shot. You need two so one can be on the ground, while the toher is over the top of the camera bag.

    Take heavy duty bug spray. Thos critters are fierce. It's not the big ones, but the little suckers that are the worst.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Nov 6, 2006
  5. roteague

    roteague Member

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    Don't forget to take a warming polarizer with you. These do wonderful things in the rainforest - along with plenty of Velvia of course, and perhaps some Provia 400F as well.
     
  6. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    Aggie, hmmm...I guess I hadn't thought much about the *RAIN* part of the rainforest. Was thinking of taking the Nikon kit but perhaps, the old spotmatic will get the call...Thanks for all of the good tips.

    Rich, I'll probably not bring a tripod. Was thinking that the monopod would suffice in most places. It easily tucks into a crevace in my suitecase and it's nice to have in Quito too. Doesn't immediately identify me as a target to the horde of pre-adolecent thieves.

    I also love those big zip-lock bags. Will bring enough for my own personal use and a few extra boxes. Last trip, they were as good as hard cash when trading with the locals.

    Robert, Velvia's just not my favorite. Was thinking about Provia but maybe that's not such a stellar choice for the low light I'm sure we'll encounter.
     
  7. roteague

    roteague Member

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    You may have a bit of problem without a tripod. It can get quite dark, which is why I suggested Provia 400F.
     
  8. naturephoto1

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    Hi Brad,

    Those multi second photos without faster film or a tripod are pretty tough hand held (or even on a monopod). :wink: Roberts suggestion for the Provia 400F looks like a good one.

    Rich
     
  9. Markok765

    Markok765 Member

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    Delta 3200 possibly?
     
  10. Eric Rose

    Eric Rose Subscriber

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    definitely take a fully manual camera. use a seperate light meter that stays in a double zip-lock bag or some such thing. make sure you don't leave your cameras in AC rooms if possible. I've spent a lot of time in the Borneo Jungles photographing and these are the things I have found work for me. Oh ya keep your film in a zip lock with some of those moisture absorbing packets.
     
  11. Roger Hicks

    Roger Hicks Member

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    Dear Brad,

    I've never tried a rain-forest but I HAVE tried tropical rain -- the Indian monsoon. Cyclists' impermeable rain-capes are good as they keep the rain off both you and the camera and allow some circulation of air, though as others have said, you still have the humidity to contend with. This, I have found, plays havoc with electrical switchgear in meters. etc.

    Cheers,

    R. (www.rogerandfrances.com)
     
  12. BradS

    BradS Subscriber

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    OK, the Nikons are definitely staying home!

    A handheld incident meter in a zip lock bag sounds like a good idea. I think it might not even need to find itself outside of the bag. Surely, an incident reading through the plastic would be "close enough". I'll have to do some experiments when I get home from work.
     
  13. DrPablo

    DrPablo Member

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    I lived for 4 weeks on the Amazon river in Peru back in 2001, working in a village medical clinic. I was only a few miles from the junction with the Napo River, and I did get to take a trip up the Napo.

    I'd suggest the following for your trip:

    1) forget slide film when you're actually in the jungle; you will need to tolerate extremes of contrast, as the shadows are deep and the highlights very bright. There isn't much place for Velvia unless you're doing shots out in the open over the river.

    2) bring a polarizing filter!! the rainforest generates simply unbelievable cloud formations that just sit ponderously over the rivers and jungles.

    3) bring a flash and a macro lens -- if you're lucky enough to do any night walks in the jungle, you'll see some truly amazing creatures

    4) the stars are like nothing you've ever seen (when it's clear); consider a tripod!


    At least near its junction with the Amazon the Napo river is HUGE. It's probably 2 or 3 miles wide, which is similar to the Amazon's width at that point (2600 miles upstream from the ocean). On the other hand the Napo is comparatively shallow. There are lots of amazing lagoons, swamps, blackwater rivers, etc all around the Napo. It's an amazing place.

    Here's a shot that I took on 35mm Kodak Gold 200 with a polarizing filter, and enlarged to 8x12. This is the Napo River, maybe an hour by boat from its junction with the Amazon.

    [​IMG]
     
  14. johnnywalker

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    If you are taking pictures in a tropical rain forest (as opposed to of) there is not much light and you will need a tripod. I always keep my camera in a zip loc bag with a dessicant. If you do have the camera in an air conditioned room, put it in a zip loc before going outside and let the camera warm up inside the bag. This will mitigate the condensation on the camera. I've never had any problems with my F80 or FM3A using this system.
     
  15. Terence

    Terence Member

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    I put important gear in Aloksak bags. Picture a military-grade ziplock bag that's more punture-proof, wear-proof, water-proof and seals easier and better.

    I use regular ziplocks for toiletries, etc., but anything I care about goes in an Aloksak bag. I use a big one for my cameras (Rolleicord, Hasselblad, even a 4x5), a medium one for the toilet paper (precious stuff) and a smaller one for my survival essentials.

    Check out any good outiftter or army-navy store (rei.com, campmor.com, uscav.com, etc). They're a little pricier, but well worth the money.

    As for the camera, I agree with going for an all manual camera. Nothing electronic. You can live with a dead meter, but not a dead camera. While you're at it, take a few disposable cameras. They weigh nothing, fit in every pocket, and will get the shot when you don't have time to fiddle with a real camera. A shot with a bad camera (and most disposables aren't that bad now) is better than no shot. What can it hurt? And no one but you will know . . .