Focus on Travel Photography

The Natural World Landscape Mountain Scenery: Scale Mountain Scenery: Lighting Tropical Beaches Rocky Shorelines In the Desert Canyons Rain Forests and the Tropics Rivers and Waterfalls Autumn Foliage Under the Sea Caves and Caverns Animals on Their Own Panoramas
Rain Forests and the Tropics
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Rain Forests and the Tropics

Wild tropical environments elicit a deep sense of mystery and adventure in most of us. Resist the temptation to climb to a clearing to capture as broad a view as possible; all you're likely to get is a vague green mass with little detail or sense of scale. Instead, search out vivid details—a colorful burst of jungle flower, a spray of giant ferns, or a waterfall surging through dense vegetation. Forest wildlife, though elusive, is ever present; tour guides can often help you spot birds or snakes, but you'll need a fairly long lens (135mm to 200mm) to get close views.

Lighting in these environments presents a twofold problem: The canopy of treetops makes for a dim, sun-dappled and very contrast-heavy light. A tripod or raising the ISO (to 400 or higher, as needed) will help you deal with the former, but contrast will still bring exposure problems.

A more pragmatic problem is protecting your gear (and yourself) from the onslaught of humidity and moisture. Keep your cameras packed in self-locking plastic bags that contain a large supply of desiccant (silica gel packets, available at most camera shops). Finally, be sure to bring rain gear, rubber hiking boots, and an umbrella.

Next: "Rivers and Waterfalls"