Costa Rica Vacation: 7 must-have travel photography accessories
Costa Rica is particularly photogenic: spectacular beaches on two oceans and the Caribbean, montane cloud forests and lowland rain forests, dramatic volcanoes With its Scarlet macaws, white-faced monkeys, sloths and frogs backed by its exotic and lush plant life, there are photo ops for every taste. The variety of subject matter sometimes calls for radically different equipment, frequently within moments of the last shot.
Humidity in Costa Rica can take a toll on equipment; tucking several desiccant packs in with your equipment is a smart move. Experienced CR shutterbugs also strongly recommend protective raingear for camera and photographer. Aside from the miscellaneous essentials in every serious shutterbug’s camera bag (cleaning kit, extra memory cards, external hard drive or USB stick and spare batteries), amateur and professional photographers alike recommend these seven photographic accessories for maximum flexibility in getting that memorable shot.
Two lenses: a fast, long lens and a macro lens
For starters, consider a fast, long lens to capture the sloth 80 feet up in the canopy or the macaw on the wing. With its wider aperture, a fast lens gathers exponentially more light at a faster shutter speed, while greater focal length zeros in on the center of interest. Similarly, leaf litter critters or outrageous botanical specimens call for macro capability for getting sharp details in that close-up. National Geographic’s contributing editor and photojournalist Jim Richards has written an excellent discussion of his lens recommendations for specific subjects online. DPReview also has a good article on the best interchangeable lenses under $1,000.
Two filters: a circular polarizing filter and a neutral density filter
With brilliant colors and variable light conditions everywhere the camera points, these two filters are de rigueur for quality shots. A good circular polarizing filter will provide better color saturation, as well as reduce reflection and glare. Neutral density filters even out sharp contrasts in lights and darks without sacrificing hue of color rendition. Jeff Meyer writes about and rates both filters at Digital Camera World online.
One travel tripod
A light, sturdy and compact tripod is essential for long exposures of the moon rising over Arenal or following the stars through the night sky. Jacob James Photography and A Luxury Travel Blog recommend ManfrottoBeFree Travel Tripod as the latest word in travel tripods. Professional photography sites consistently rate it best of class. Manfrotto holds up under Costa Rica’s sometimes-tricky terrain and weather conditions while being easy to store, carry and deploy.
The Triggertrap Mobile
The Triggertrap Mobile app kit, available for iOS and Android, is the other key component for stop action, long exposures and time-lapse photography. It uses a smart phone to trigger the camera remotely. It has all the bells and whistles for more camera models than, as the folks at Triggertrap say, “…you can shake a lens cap at.”
Carry-on camera bag
Only the greenest traveler checks his camera equipment with the airlines; those in the know carry on and keep calm. Some experts tout the medium-sized Manfrotto Advanced Tri Backpack as a standout for airline-approved, carry-on camera bags with its gear-holding capacity, including its external straps for a tripod. Camera bags styles, features and materials are many and preferences are personal choices; finding the right bag can also be time-consuming. Save shoe leather and indulge in some virtual window-shopping before making a choice: DesignBolts.com has a comprehensive photo line-up of its top 10 bags.
You’re on vacation; you’ve got the gear: Go get the pictures. Oh, and don’t forget the international plug adapters.