One of the great destinations for nature photography is the Amazon Basin with its incredible diversity of wildlife, birds, reptiles, amphibians, butterflies, and flowers. And of all the places in Amazonia you could go to capture this diversity, the cloud forests in Ecuador are unparalleled. The places you will explore on this photo tour are so rich in biodiversity and photographic opportunities that literally everywhere you look are pictures. Join Jim for a tremendous learning experience in nature photography, flash, focus tracking, and dealing with challenging shooting situations with respect to depth of field, exposure, distracting elements, contrast, and composition. You will learn how easy it is to capture sharp pictures of hummingbirds in flight when you see the setups Jim makes, and you'll be overwhelmed by the amazing images you'll be able to take.
Day 1, Sat., July 15. Arrival in Quito. Depart from home and arrive in Quito, Ecuador. You will meet a local representative at the airport as you exit customs and immigration, and you'll be transferred to the hotel. Meet Jim in the lobby of the hotel at 7pm for an orientation of the tour and to answer any photography questions you may have. This will be followed by a welcome dinner. Overnight Quito.
Day 2, Sun., July 16. Quito/Transfer to Mindo. After breakfast we will visit a local market, a great place to make portraits of local people and to capture a flavor of Ecuadorian culture. After lunch, we have a private transfer (two hours) to the Mindo Cloudforest. Upon arrival and check in to our lodge, we setup our equipment and start photographing the stunning hummingbirds that are all around us. Overnight
Days 3 to 5, Mon. - Wed., July 17 - 19. Mindo Cloudforest. Located in the Western foothills of the Andes Range, the Mindo Cloudforest is a paradise of glass frogs, anole lizards, butterflies, exotic birds, and hummingbirds. Our hummingbird setups lure many species to within just a few feet from your medium telephoto lens, and you'll see that this is the easiest wildlife and bird photography you've ever done. You'll be amazed by the outstanding pictures you take. Other feeders on the property of the lodge attract fruit-eating birds, and for these pictures you'll want a longer lens to fill the frame with the flamboyant colors and beautiful shapes of tropical birds. You will also have the opportunity to have up close and personal encounters with unique frogs, other amphibians, and reptiles. Overnight.
Days 6-7, Thur. - Fri., July 20-21. San Lorenzo/Choco Rainforest. We will depart early this morning by private transfer (5 hours) to the Choco Nature Reserve. This is one of the global hotspots for biodiversity, it is the ideal place to photograph poison dart frogs, bizarre insects, lizards, butterflies, and lots of fantastic birds. Many of the species you'll see are found nowhere else on the planet. Mornings are often misty with low lying clouds and fog, and photographing the rainforest itself is magical. All of your photographic skills will be called upon here, from doing macro photography, using flash and even ring flash, following motion with long lenses, dealing with low light and exposure challenges, and using Photoshop to fix problematic backgrounds. Jim will help you navigate these challenges so you return home with mind-blowing images.
Day 8, Sat., July 22. San Lorenzo/Quito. We drive back to Quito today (5 hours) and enjoy a farewell dinner in the old part of the city. It still looks like Colonial times being the best preserved, least altered historic center in the Americas, and it's a great chance to do some twilight and night photography. Overnight Quito.
Day 9, Sun., July 23.. Return flight. We transfer to the airport today for our return flight home knowing that we've had a phenomenal experience both culturally as well as photographically, and that our pictures are absolutely amazing. When you go through your pictures at home, count the number of species you've photographed. You'll be surprised.
Tour cost: $4950 Includes all lodging on a shared, double occupancy basis, all meals beginning with the welcome dinner and ending with breakfast on day 9, all land transportation including airport transfers, entrance fees into protected natural reserves, hummingbird set up equipment, services of a local bilingual guide, photo instruction and critiques.
Single supplement: $495
Not included: International airfare, visa fees if applicable (US and Canadian citizens do not require a visa to enter Ecuador for up to 90 days), items of a personal nature, laundry, drinks at meals, and alcohol.