Fotografía Profesional en Costa Rica–Professional Photography in Costa Rica

Archivo para octubre, 2012

Jorge & Jessica

Jorge y Jessica celebrando su boda. Dicen que la lluvia en el día de la boda es buena suerte. Si lo es les sobrará la suerte. Por dicha todo fue celebrado en un solo lugar por lo que mi reto fue tratar de crear una variedad de imágenes usando diferentes tipos de luz, desde 3 flashes simultáneos hasta ninguno.

Jorge and Jessica celebrating their wedding. They say that rain on your wedding day is good luck. If it is, they will have plenty. Fortunately the ceremony and reception were held in the same place so my challenge was to create a variety of images using different lighting, from as many as 3 simultaneous flashes to none.

Si desean contactarme para conversar sobre su boda lo pueden hacer aquí. If you’d like to talk about your upcoming wedding you can reach me here.

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Releasing Sea Turtles, 1 in a Million

The article originally appeared in The Costa Rica Star, please stop by and have a look. If you would like to reach me for photography or other services you can do so here.

Update OCT 24 2012. I’ve added the video referenced in the article!

Undisclosed Pacific Coast Location

6:22am

It’s early enough that even the guard isn’t at his post yet. After about 10 minutes of driving through a series of shallow ponds wrongly called a road, we’re at the access gate. We’ve already ignored one “No public access” sign, what’s a unmanned guard shack? It’s not as bad as I think, the driver has already called ahead. We pull up to a government run ranger station and I unload my gear quickly while the others check in with the park rangers.

“He’s writing an article.” Fingers point at me. I am?

“I am.”

Clearly my status as a reporter has been slightly (or grossly) overstated but I’m carrying a bunch of gear which always lends credibility. I’m really here to get video of baby turtles for my client, who will use the footage to support conservation efforts. I’m not about to blow it on account of a lack of clarification.

I keep my head down and look busy unpacking before anyone asks any questions about my credentials.

6:26am

A gentlemen appears carrying a 5 gallon bucket and dryly states:

“…But there’s a problem.”

Uh-oh.

“The tide is up and you will get your shoes and pants wet.”

Before he’s done speaking my shoes are off and am unzipping my pants into shorts (I suspected this might happen so I wore convertible pants). I prefer the beach barefoot rather than have shoes full of sand anyway. The same gentlemen who shows such concern for our shoes points to his bucket: “Here are the turtles.”

I take a quick peek and am shocked to find 100 wriggling newborn Olive Ridley sea turtles. It seems rather unceremonious, but I trust no harm is being done.

6:32 am

The sun has been up for a while but the light is still a little flat (not much contrast), our portly guide charges ahead of us with his 5 gallon bucket. I hang back a bit trying to get some “dramatic” scenes of him leaving a trail of footprints in the sand. In retrospect though, there is nothing graceful or dramatic about a middle-aged man wearing rubber boots trudging through wet sand carrying a bucket. Try it you’ll see what I mean. Plus the footage ends up all foggy anyway since my gear spent the night in air-conditioning and the sea breeze instantly condenses on the lens.

6:35am

Our guide draws a line in the sand about 20 meters from the water line. The turtles need a bit of space to get their bearings so they can make their way back later in life. They are removed one by one from the bucket (wearing latex gloves so as not to contaminate them). They come out flapping oversized flippers with amazing ferocity, desperation even. They are painfully cute. Once on the sand they don’t head straight for the water but sort of wander around in fitful burst before finally heading towards the surf.

It’s quite difficult to keep the camera steady and the two inch turtles in manual focus while not interfering with any of them. I manage to get some nice footage while narrowly avoiding a wave or two splashing onto the camera.

As amazing an experience as it is, my version is a bit anesthetized since I live it through the view screen on my camera with a head full of settings and trying to keep things in focus. It’s something I’m glad I got to see since most folks aren’t allowed.

6:51am

The babies are on their way to a sadly low survival rate in the water and our guide turns his attention to a nest he’s spotted. He expertly digs up the rubbery eggs and puts them in a plastic grocery bag (again it seems somewhat unceremonious). He carries the bag gently—no swaying allowed—to the nursery.

7:06am

Fenced off and laid out in a grid, dozens of transplanted nests await their moment protected from any number of predators. After drawing a diagram for our edification he recreates a nest with the requisite shape and reburies the eggs.

7:22am

The term translates to exhumation. I’m instantly not a fan of the word. Too many negative implications in English. It means digging up a nest that has recently hatched to find any stragglers. We find a few survivors while as tallying up the ones that didn’t make it and the eggs that stopped forming in different stages of development. It feels like the icky part of biology class or Discovery channel. I get footage that probably won’t be used.

7:40

Back out on the beach we find a disturbed nest. It might have been an animal, but after closer inspection: “People…people stole the eggs.”

Fortunately there are people who save them as well. People who work crazy hours without enough pay or the equipment they need. Volunteers too. What I saw isn’t really allowed in order to protect the turtles, but I just can’t help but think that if it were allowed it might be helpful to the cause. What might someone pay to have a one in a million experience?

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Macaw conservation needs your help–Ayuden a salvar las lapas

This article originally appeared (in English) in the Costa Rica Star, so stop by  and have a look. Versión en español disponible después de las fotos.

Tucked away somewhere in Río Segundo in Alajuela, behind veiled chain link fencing and sporting nearly no signs is The Ara Project. Between my unfamiliarity with the area and Tico-style directions it might have been easier just to roll down the window and listen. 200 macaws squawking carries a pretty long way…

Chris Castle opens the gate and I finally meet what was had been just a voice on the phone with a funny island accent (I couldn’t determine if Aussie or Kiwi). He’s upbeat, happy and thankful that someone (the gentlemen who hired me to take video) has taken and interest in the project. If you didn’t know better you might mistake Chris for a surfer. He’s tall, with piercing blue eyes, 3 days of stubble, an old t-shirt and blond dreadlocks. It takes less than five minutes of conversation to know that he’s no smoked out bum seduced by lazy afternoons in the sun and too much ‘pura vida.’ In fact he’s the accidental heir to the project after original founders passed away.

His co-conspirator in conservation, Jenny Pettigrew, pops up a couple of minutes later, just as cheerful, though slightly less unkempt, and sporting the same accent: New Zealand we are informed. Both have degrees in biology from Kiwi universities, and since there are no programs to study macaw husbandry anywhere I’m guessing that makes them some of the world experts on the subject.

They show us around the property and let us in the cages while explaining how they take care of the birds during during the nearly year-long pre-release process, what they eat and where they finally release them. At one point as I’m filming, two young macaws begin playing with Chris’ hair (I nearly drop the camera when one decides to do the same to me) while he just keeps talking. He’s in his element, passionately so. He’s so passionate that he only takes 3 days off every 3 months in order to renew his tourist visa. Jenny does the same. They don’t make enough to apply for permanent residency despite doing this for years.

Over coffee and home-made chocolate muffins, Chris and Jenny explain how their social life revolves around the volunteers that come through (there’s never enough), that the money they make from tours to foreigners doesn’t even cover the costs of feeding the birds, never mind paying themselves properly (very supportive parents they explain). They do have local support though. A prominent local family helps with funding while a Canadian woman helps find them furniture, second hand fridges and microwaves. Tico volunteers help regularly as well, one woman even cooks certain food for the birds over a fireplace on the farm.

So much self-sacrifice and dedication aren’t enough to overcome some of the problems they are facing. Their regular monthly funding will stop in March 2013 and the property that has been home to macaws for some 30 years is for sale (fortunately it’s overpriced). A hotel in Punta Islita, where they release birds, has donated land, but they need quite a bit of money to build the infrastructure for birds and humans. I guess the macaws have plenty of reason to squawk.

Maybe they just need someone to squawk and make some noise for them. If the foreign soccer players can get high-level meetings with immigration officials, surely these two should get their papers. I don’t know if the president has the power to grant citizenship for meritorious activity but at minimum I’m betting she can speed things along for residency. A little Internet shame goes a long way in a small country.

So here’s the deal, if you’re friends with an ambassador (or better yet you ARE an ambassador), have a sister-in-law in immigration, make their case known. Plus this presidency could use a win, this could be one.

We need to get more folks on board in general to help the macaw cause. As I mentioned there will be a fund-raising campaign featuring the video I took as well as an art contest called the Amistad Prize which is looking for sponsors (local artists depicting the effects of deforestation). I don’t have a ton of details on either but I will try to keep you all posted or you contact me here or my Facebook and I will put you in touch. Thanks for helping if only by sharing this article.

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En un rinconcito de Río Segundo de Alajuela, tras malla verde y con escasa rotulación encuentro por fin el Proyecto Ara. Entre el desconocimiento de la zona y direcciones a la tica sería mas fácil encontrarlo bajando la ventana y escuchando. Los gritos de 200 lapas se oyen a buena distancia…

Me abre el portón Chris Castle, el dueño de lo hasta ahora fue solo una voz con acento de islas lejanas (no supe distinguir si Australia o Nueva Zelanda). Nos recibe alegre, efusivo y agradecido de que alguien (el señor que me contrató para el video) ha tomado interés en el proyecto. Chris tiene toda la pinta de surfo: alto, ojos celestes, falta de afeitar, camiseta destartalada y una melena de dreadlocks rubios. Pero bastan cinco minutos de conversación para entender que este no es ningún vago seducido por las olas y la mota y el ‘pura vida’. Ha dedicado ocho años de su vida a cuidar, criar e introducir lapas a la naturaleza. Es el heredero accidental de la pareja de extranjeros que comenzaron el proyecto unos 30 años atrás.

Su compinche en conservación, Jenny Pettigrew, aparece dos minutos mas tarde igual de alegre, un tanto mas limpia y peinada, con el mismo acento y nos confirma que son de Nueva Zelanda. Ambos son biólogos graduados de universidades de ese país. No hay programas de estudio en el mundo que enseñan como reproducir lapas, por lo que presumo que estoy en la presencia de algunos de los expertos mundiales en el tema.

Nos dan una vuelta por la finca mientras explican como cuidan a las aves durante el largo proceso de crianza, qué comen y donde las sueltan. En algún momento dos lapas jóvenes juegan con el cabello de Chris sin que él deje de hablar (yo brinco medio metro cuando otra me hace los mismo). Está en su ambiente, haciendo lo que le apasiona. Esa pasión significa que se toma solo 3 días libres cada 3 meses. Los usa para salir del país y renovar su visa. Jenny hace lo mismo.

Tras ofrecernos un cafecito y pastelillos caseros Chris y Jenny cuentan como su vida social pasa por los voluntarios que les ayudan (nunca son suficientes), que los fondos que reciben de los tours de extranjeros no alcanzan para darles de comer a las aves y menos para pagarse lo suficiente. Hay quienes los apoyan, como una reconocida familia nacional que les suple la diferencia entre las entradas y sus costos, la señora canadiense que poco a poco los ha dotado de algunos muebles, refris de segunda y microondas. Voluntarios ticos ayudan con varios aspectos, incluso una señora les cocina verduras a las lapas en un fogón del patio.

El sacrificio de tantos no alcanza ante los problemas que se les asoman. Los fondos se acabarán en marzo del 2013 y se suma el hecho que la finca está en venta (por suerte piden un monto descabellado). En Punta Islita ya tienen un terreno donado por un hotel de la zona, pero necesitan dinero para construir la infraestructura. Tienen buena razón de hacer tanto escándalo las lapas.

Y llegó el momento de que nosotros hagamos un poco de escándalo también. Si los futbolistas extranjeros pueden tener acceso a altos funcionarios de migración y volver a la canchas en una semana, me parece que estas dos personas deberían tener ciudadanía por mérito, por servicio a la patria. Mínimo la residencia (no ganan lo suficiente como para pedirla…). Este es un país pequeño y un poco de vergüenza pública resuelve situaciones. Si la presidenta ofrece cada año indultos carcelarios con bombos y platillos, imagínese lo que podría ganarse con el público resolviendo este tema.

Esto lo vamos a tener que solucionar entre todos, nacionales, residentes y extranjeros. Ya hay gente importante moviendo hilos, pero más publicidad y clamor es lo que se ocupa. Si su tío es diputado, o su hermana trabaja en migración, háganles llegar esta información. Veamos que patas tenemos entre todos para ayudar.

Ya hay gente tratando de ayudar, como la campaña que utilizará mi video o una iniciativa nueva que acaba de conocer que será una competencia de arte llamado el Premio Amistad que busca patrocinadores. No tengo muchos detalles aún pero me pueden contactar aquí o por me página de Facebook y los pongo en contacto. Gracias por ayudar aunque solo sea compartiendo este artículo.