At the end of February 2016, I traveled to Ecuador to participate in a photography workshop organized by Greg Basco of Foto Verde Tours a photographic tour company for photographers founded by photographers. and Lucas Bustamante of Tropical Herping, an institution he co-founded in 2009 to preserve tropical reptiles and amphibians through tourism, photography, education and research. Both Greg and Lucas are award winning photographers. Assisting Lucas was Frank Pichardo, a new employee of Tropical Herping but an experienced photographer and naturalist guide. The trip itinerary was designed to provide three largely different habitats with the intent of photographing a wide variety of subjects.
After meeting the workshop attendees and leaders at the Quito Marriot we headed off to our first nature lodge, the Guango Lodge in the high cloud forest west of Quito. The accommodations were basic and clean, the food was great, and the photographic opportunities wide ranging. Macro subjects included insects and amphibians and the birds consisted of mostly hummingbirds with a good opportunity behind one of the buildings to photograph a mountain cacique feeding a chick in a hanging nest. There was plenty of rain, downpours at night with some relief during the days. One day we had a day trip to two waterfalls west of the lodge, stopping at a bridge over a river where torrent ducks are sometimes seen. We weren’t disappointed.
You may notice that there are many “clown frogs” and “rain frogs”, all of different colors and appearances. Also, the images are organized in the order they were captured.
Our second lodge was WildSumaco Wildlife Sanctuary in the Amazon foothills of the Andes. The lodge was modern, with a large library, lounge, sitting area and large comfortable rooms. Hummingbirds were abundant, with at least 10 species regularly spotted. The surrounding environment also provided many species of frogs, toads, lizards and insects to photograph.
The third and final stop was at the Tandayapa Lodge in the Western Andes, and east of Quito. On our drive to Tandayapa we passed thought Quito, stopping at the Ciudad Mitad del Mundo, or Middle of the World City, where a French expedition in 1736 to conduct experiments to determine the shape of the earth. This site afforded the scientists a location on the equator which had sufficient altitude for the astronomical observations required. The site is host to several museums, restaurants and shops. The Tandayapa Lodge has many bird feeders attracting hummingbirds on a large patio, and has a covered porch where we set up multiple flash setups and wildlife setups for the lizards, snakes, frogs and toads that Lucas and Frank would collect for us at night to be returned where they found them the next evening. While some of the images appear to be taken at night, they are actually photographed during the day using flash techniques. The booted racket-tails here were like flies, they seemed to be everywhere.