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Join Andrew McLachlan and Mark Pepper (Understory Enterprises) for an exclusive photography retreat within the Cordillera Escalera, near Tarapoto, Peru. This location is situated within the foothills of the Andes Mountains, in Amazonian Rainforest. The dates for this event are June 30 – July 6, 2018 (6 nights). Maximum number of participants is 6. All accommodations for this photo tour will be shared with no single supplement option available. The photo tour fee is $3500.00 US Currency. We need to arrive in Tarapoto, Peru on June 30th and we will depart for home on July 6th.

The focus of this photo tour will be landscapes and micro fauna of the Cordillera Escalera.  There is nothing quite like watching the sun rise over the foothills of the Andes Mountains as each new day awakens, standing in awe at towering waterfalls, photographing dart frogs within their natural habitat, or venturing out to explore the night life within the Amazon rainforest. One highlight of the night-time excursions will be photographing the endangered Cochran Frog, which has a very limited range in the Cordillera Escalera. We will also be photographing many species of insects endemic to this region. The biodiversity of the Cordillera Escalera leaves no shortage of subjects to photograph.

If you have not already viewed my image gallery from my scouting trip to Peru’s Cordillera Escalera please click here.

We could not ask for a more friendly and knowledgeable guide. Mark Pepper has been exploring this rainforest environment for over 15 years. Mark has even worked with BBC film crews filming in the area. Using his extensive knowledge and keen eye he will locate several species of dart frogs for us to photograph, not to mention some very fascinating insects!

Some locations during this tour will require the ability of being able to walk several kilometres over uneven terrain in a humid environment. There is also the possibility of river crossings on some hikes, however, these rivers are narrow and shallow. If you have any concerns regarding these please do inquire for additional information.

Our accommodations will be at the luxurious Understory Enterprises Field House, which is also equipped with a gorgeous infinity pool over-looking the Cordillera Escalera, within the foothills of the Andes Mountains and Amazonian rainforest. Many of our morning sunrise sessions will be conducted on site, as we have an outstanding view of the sun rising over the mountain range.

 

 

Itinerary:

Meet and greet on June 30, 2018 at the Understory Enterprises Field House.

Daily excursions will be determined based on the current weather conditions.

Image review sessions will be conducted both in the field via LCD and via laptop computers at the Understory Enterprises Field House.

Breakfasts – will be at the Understory Enterprises Field House

Lunches – at various locations during the tour based on each day’s travel plans

Dinners – we will go into the town of Tarapoto for dinner at one of the many fine restaurants

 

What’s Included:

  • In-depth Photographic instruction throughout the photo tour
  • Accommodation at the Understory Enterprises Field House
  • Transportation to and from Understory Enterprises Field House to all photographic destinations
  • Pick-up and drop-off at the Tarapoto airport for your arrival and departure
  • Free Wifi at the Understory Enterprises Field House
  • All meals

What’s Not Included:

  • Transportation to and from Lima, Peru
  • Transportation to and from Tarapoto, Peru
  • Alcoholic Beverages
  • Travel insurance
  • Medical insurance

Photo Tour Fee:

$3500.00 US per person.

To secure your spot a non-refundable retainer of $1200 US is due now. The balance of the photo tour fee ($2300.00 US) is due no later than March 31, 2018.

A signed Waiver of Liability form must accompany the non-refundable retainer. Waiver of Liability forms will be emailed to those wishing to register.

Travel Insurance: 

Participants are encouraged to purchase their own medical, travel, and trip cancellation insurance.

Cancellation Policy:

Full refund less $1200 US non-refundable retainer 91 days prior to Photo Tour date.

No refunds 90 days prior to the date.

 

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Ameerega trivittata, Chazuta, Peru
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

 

Perhaps the biggest highlight of my recent trip the Cordillera Escalera region of Peru was having the opportunity to photograph several species of dart frogs within their natural habitat. Since dart frogs are a diurnal species, searching for them is made somewhat easier as we are doing so during the light of day. Often we encountered the frogs among the dry leaf litter on the jungle floor where their brilliant coloration really stands out. My go to set-up for photographing the dart frogs in the wild is the same set-up that I use here at home, in the wild or in my Dart Frogs of the Amazon Rainforest Workshops – a Nikon D500 with Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens and a Nikon SB400 Speedlight mounted on a Wimberlet F-2 Macro Bracket (the best macro bracket available today). To be more specific regarding my macro lens of choice, I use the Nikkor 105mm f2.8 D Micro Lens originally released in 1990 and now discontinued, but it is still a fantastic lens that focuses down to lifesize which is perfect for these tiny frogs.

The above photo of the Ameerega trivittata represents the largest dart frog we encountered, with this species being approximately one inch in length. The remainder of species encountered were not much larger than a thumbnail. Since the dart frogs are most often encountered on the jungle floor creating pleasing images of them means you to must get down to their level. Lying down among the leaf litter will, 99% of the time, yield the best perspective from which to photograph them.

Please note that I prefer to caption my dart frogs according to their scientific name. Not only is the most accurate means of identification, it is also less confusing as many of these dart frog species can have several common names.

 

Ameerega cainarachi, Chazuta, Peru
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 100
f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

 

The below Ranitomeya imitator is actually a frog that mimics the coloration of dart frogs. These tiny frogs are completely harmless and incapable of producing toxins, yet their brilliant colors warn potential predators that perhaps they should stay away.

 

Ranitomeya imitator, Chazuta, Peru
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 100
f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

 

My favorite encounter was with the Ranitomeya summersi we discovered during a grueling 8 kilometer hike through a large, multiple hectare reserve belonging to Understory Enterprises. Without the expertise of Understory Enterprises these dart frog images would have been very difficult to capture.

 

Ranitomeya summersi, Chazuta, Peru
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 100
f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

 

The below images of Ameerega femorlais and Cryptophyllobates azuriventris were located on a short excursion in the jungle near Pongo, Peru. The Cryptophyllobates azuriventris was a particularly nice find as my guide indicated it was the first time he had found an adult specimen here in about 12 years.

 

Ameerega femoralis, Pongo, Peru
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 100
f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

 

Cryptophyllobates azuriventris, Pongo, Peru
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 100
f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

 

During one of our night excursions along small streams within the Cordillera Escalera to search for tree frogs and insects we encountered several Hyloxalus nexipus sleeping on narrowed leaved plants over-hanging the streams. To create the below image sitting in the stream to gain the low perspective was required.

 

Hyloxalus nexipus, Tarapoto, Peru
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 100
f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

 

WORKSHOP UPDATE

A quick update on the Dart Frogs of the Amazon Rainforest Photographic Workshop – Understory Enterprises and yours truly have added a second date on Sunday November 26 in Mississauga, Ontario and there are only two spaces remaining for this event. We do not use wild caught specimens in these workshops, they are all captive bred here in Ontario at the Understory Enterprises breeding facility. These workshops give folks the incredible opportunity to photograph nature’s most colorful animals in a comfortable setting with natural set-ups. Click here for more information and click here to register yourself for this event.

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Small stream in the Cordillera Escalera, Peru
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens
ISO 100
f16 @ 4 seconds

Over the course of the last few days I have been busy optimizing the image files from my trip to the Cordillera Escalera near Tarapoto, Peru. I created and uploaded of a selection of the imagery into a gallery of its own to my website today. Please click here to view the Peru Gallery. The daily temperatures during the trip were around 34 degrees Celsius with humidity around 80%, which in turn gives us a humidex value of close to 52 degrees Celsius. To say it was hot would be an understatement. In fact, I felt very tired for several days after returning from Peru. Although I drank plenty of water, I believed that my electrolytes might be on the low side, therefore a trip to the pharmacy to buy some electrolytes packets was in order and upon drinking the electrolytes I felt 100% better. On my next trip I will be sure to pack electrolyte packets to replenish what is sweated out during the heat of the day.

Tree Frog (Osteocephalus family) in the Cordillera Escalera, Peru
Nikon D500, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 100
f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

Photographically speaking the main subjects I created images of were landscapes and micro fauna. Above is an image of a tree frog from the Osteocephalus family that was encountered during one of our many night-time excursions. Being able to photograph numerous species of frogs within the Amazon rainforest was a fantastic opportunity, especially the Cochran Frog (Rulyrana saxiscandens) an endangered species with a very limited range within Peru’s Cordillera Escalera. I was also fascinated by a large, old growth tree that I discovered during one of the hikes. This tree had another tree that had set root and grabbed hold of it’s massive trunk some time ago, but what really caught my eye was the plethora of orchid roots that covered virtually every inch of the old growth tree.

Root details in the Cordillera Escalera, Peru
Nikon D800, Nikon 24-85mm VR Lens @ 85mm
ISO 100
f16 @ 0.8 sec

Please do remember to click on each of the photos to view the larger, sharper versions and enjoy the new website gallery 🙂

Cochran Frog (Rulyrana saxiscandens),  Cordillera Escalera, Peru
Nikon D500, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 100
f22 @ 1/60 sec
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberely F-2 Macro Bracket

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Ranitomeya flavovittata – captive (Eastern Peru)
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens
f22 @ 1/60 sec (ISO 100)
Nikon SB400 Spedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

Today at 1:00 p.m. my excursion to Tarapoto, Peru begins. I will commute to Toronto, Ontario to board the first flight of two flights required to get to my destination. The first flight lands in Lima, Peru at roughly 2:00 a.m. After a 5 hour lay over we will then board the final plane that flies over the Andes and into Tarapoto. The blog will be quiet while I am away, but I will be posting a few cellphone snaps of the trip on my Instagram page as frequently as wifi availability will allow. To follow my Instagram page look me up at @mclachlanwild.

See you all soon 🙂

 

 

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La Palma Glass Frog (Hyalinobatrachium valerioi)
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

The La Palma Glass Frog (Hyalinobatrachium valerioi) is a small tree frog (about one inch) endemic to the rainforests of Costa Rica. When view from underneath you can see all of their internal organs, blood vessels, and bones – hence the name glass frog. During each Dart Frogs of the Amazon Rainforest Photographic Workshop we bring this species out as a bonus species. The above image is optimized from a horizontal capture as can be seen in the unedited RAW directly file below. In hindsight this fantastic pose on a Monsterra leaf should have been capture in both horizontal and vertical orientations. Hindsight and Photoshop knowledge is a wonderful thing because with a little tweaking you can have both.

La Palma Glass Frog (Hyalinobatrachium valerioi) RAW FILE
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

In the screen shot of the Photoshop interface below you can see that I have selected the Crop Tool (I set the Ratio to 3712 X 5568 pixels, the same dimensions as an image from a Nikon D500). I then moved the crop tool and enlarged the ratio until I had the frog positioned exactly where I wanted it to be. As you can see from the screen shot below, the crop tool as been extended well beyond the actual image. This was done deliberatley. Note that I have checked the Content Aware box (please click on the image to view the larger version making it easier to see). All I have to do now is click on the crop tool’s check mark to initiate the cropping and let content aware will fill in the areas beyond the frame. usually there may be a little touch up needed as the content aware may not fill in the spaces perfectly, but in this case it did a wonderful job with no additional touch up required. The final task that was performed was cloning out the flash generated spectral highlights on the frog. I often find that enlarging the image to about 400% simplifies the task of cloning out these highlights, although it can be a time consuming task.

And last but not least is the optimized horizontal orientation of the La Palma Glass Frog. Please do remember to click on the images to view the larger, versions.

La Palma Glass Frog (Hyalinobatrachium valerioi)
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.
Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

 

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Ranitomeya fantastica © Paul Infelise

A quick update on the recently announced Dart Frogs of the Amazon Rainforest Photographic Workshop on Saturday, November 25th as it is now SOLD OUT (wait list). If enough interest is generated or the wait list becomes sufficient we will add a second date on Sunday, November 26th. If you missed out on getting your name in for the Saturday date, it is not too late, please send me an email by clicking here asking me to add you to the wait list.

Today’s post again features imagery by two participants in the recently concluded dart frog workshop. I love the pose of the Ranitomeya fantastica on the branch in the opening photo that Paul Infelise captured. The male Denrobates tinctorius “Mount Matecko” below seems to have a tough guy look to him and although a tad tight in the frame I really do like the pose on the Dendrobates tinctorius in the final image by Paul.

 

Dendrobates tinctorius “Mount Matecko” © Paul Infelise

 

Dendrobates tinctorius © Paul Infelise

 

Mark Pomeroy sent along a small selection of his imagery from the day as well. Each of the frogs that mark sent are very small, measuring roughly the size of a thumb nail, with the exception of the Ranitomeya reticulata which is a little bit smaller than that! Mark’s Ranitomeya variablis on the Monsterra leaf is posing for us quite nicely and the placement within the frame works well too. The La Palma Glass Frog (Hyalinobatrachium valerioi) has a very inquisitive look to its pose. The dark background creates the effect that this is a night time capture, which is an accurate representation for this nocturnal species. The Glass Frogs are always brought at the end of each event as a bonus species and they never disappoint. As mentioned previously the Ranitomeya reticulata is slightly smaller than a thumb nail in size and I like that mark kept it small in the frame as I think it enhances the diminutive size of this incredibly tiny, yet colorful dart frog.

 

Ranitomeya variablis © Mark Pomeroy

 

Hyalinobatrachium valerioi © Mark Pomeroy

 

Ranitomeya reticulata © Mark Pomeroy

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Ameerega hahneli   ©Sherry Butts

This post is feature several images from some of the participants that attended the recently concluded Dart Frogs of the Amazon Rainforest Photographic Workshops on August 19th & 20th. We had a great group of folks for each date and tons of fun creating great images. We incorporated the use of props for some species to illustrate just how tiny they are. These props included a ten cent coin and the thumb of yours truly for a human touch 🙂 I am really proud of the images that the workshop participants created during these two events as well as their post processing skills. I will share more images from other participants when they are able to send their images along. Below are a few images from the first group of participants that were able to submit their images this week. Stay tuned for more images soon 🙂

First time participant Alan Jones made the trek from Michigan to attend both days of the workshop and created many great images using his Nikon D800 with the now discontinued Nikon 200mm Micro lens and the R1 Wireless Close-up Speedlight System I love the upright pose Alan captured of the Epipedobates tricolor, the side profile of the Phyllobates terribilis, and the low perspective for the Dendrobates leucomelas.

Dendrobates leucolemla   ©Alan Jones

Phyllobates terribilis   ©Alan Jones

 

Epipedobates tricolor   ©Alan Jones

 

Jennifer St. Louis was also a first time participant at the dart frog workshop. Jen was using a small soft box on her camera mounted flash to add a soft even light, which is something I may start incorporating. I absolutely love the image she captured of the Ranitomeya flavovitta below. Her low perspective allows the frog to stand out beautifully against the poster-like, out-of-focus background. Her image of the Hyalinobatrachium valerioi on the Monsterra leaf creates a nice sense of scale for this tiny tree frog and her Dendrobates leucomelas image really pops against the soft greens of the same leaf.

 

Ranitomeya flavovittata   ©Jen St. Louis

 

Hyalinobatrachium valerioi   ©Jen St. Louis

 

Dendrobates leucomelas   ©Jen St. Louis

 

Return workshop participant Don Johnston captured the Epipedobates tricolor on a 10 cent Canadian coin which really gives us a great sense of scale for this tiny but colorful frog. Don was also using the discontinued Nikon 200mm Micro lens with a light source provided by his Nikon SB900 Speedlight mounted to a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket. The benefit of using such a lens is that you gain more working distance, which can be most beneficial at times. Don’s capture of the Dendrobates tinctorius on the soft green moss (direct from Peru) pops nicely as does his Phylobates terribilis sitting on the Cordelyne leaf – what better combination than a bright yellow frog sitting on a bright purplish-pink leaf 🙂

 

Epipedobates tricolor   ©Don Johnston

 

Dendrobates tinctorius “azureus”   ©Don Johnston

 

Phyllobates terribilis   ©Don Johnston

 

Sherry Butts’, a returning workshop participant, opening image of the Ameerega hahneli reaching up to my thumb nail was only made better when the frog actually climbed up onto my thumb nail. Sherry was using one of my home-made flash diffusers to add soft, even lighting and while these custom-made diffusers are impracticable for field use they allow the workshop participant to create stunning imagery without the need to invest in expensive off camera flash brackets. Sherry loves going for a creative look in her images and as a result applied a beautiful texture overlay to her capture on the Phyllobates terribilis on a leaf stem.

 

Ameerega hahneli   ©Sherry Butts

 

Phyllobates terribilis   ©Sherry Butts

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