Octavio Salles Photography

Photo Tours in Brazil

Wild Atlantic Rainforest

Posted by campossallesfotografia on 2 de August de 2010

I spent entire last week guiding a photographer to my favorite place in the Atlantic Rainforest, the private reserve Parque do Zizo, located in southern São Paulo State, about 3 hours from my home. The region is where the largest piece of Atlantic Rainforest remains. This is many thousands os square miles of intact, primary rainforest habitat. The private reserve borders a state reserve, which in turn borders another state reserve and so forth, so the whole area is well protected. It’s not unusual at all to see many tracks of large mammals on the trails, like tapirs and even jaguars or pumas, a sure sign that the place is helthy.

On previous visits I have seen and photographed some extremelly rare birds here, just behind the lodge, like the Buff-fronted Owl. This time we didn’t see any real rarity (although we did hear a Pavonine Cuckoo, a new bird to the reserve), but we more than compensated it with some great photos. We did see a huge Black Hawk-Eagle attacking something just behind the lodge, a great scene, but just to fast to be photographed.

One of the waterfalls of the reserve, surrounded by lush vegetation.

This pano was made with 4 images taken with my D700 and Nikkor 24mm f/2.8. It was stitched together by Photoshop CS5, which did and amazing job considering I wasn’t using a pano head (a regular ball head instead).

Olive-green Tanagers

The Olive-green Tanager is a bird always seen high up in the trees, in big monospecific groups. This time however they were coming to the feeder and I was able to set up different perches for them.

Yellow-fronted Woodpecker

Not your usual woodpecker! Besides being amazingly colorful, these guys eat mainly fruits instead of the usual insect larvae and such.

White-necked Thrush

These attractive thrushes are forest inhabitants, never venturing far from it. They are also quite wary, more wary and elusive than the common Rufous-bellied Thrush.

I will post more photos during the week.

Posted in Bird photography, Destinations, Trip reports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 4 Comments »

Jaguar scouting trip update

Posted by campossallesfotografia on 25 de July de 2010

There’s no more space available for the jaguar scouting trip in late august. Stay tuned for next year’s dates.

Thank you.

Posted in Destinations | Leave a Comment »

Photography workshop in the Atlantic Rainforest

Posted by campossallesfotografia on 22 de July de 2010

I just got back from a 3-day workshop at the Atlantic Rainforest of SE Brazil, near the town of Ubatuba, at the same place where we are going to for the extension tour of our Pantanal tour next September.

This was a post-processing workshop, focused on Lightroom 3 and Photoshop CS5, but of course we put a lot of photography in-between the classes. The weather was, quite frankly, horrible. It was drizzling constantly and very cold. At night I think temps got down to around 45º F (7º C). I know… that’s almost pleasant for you guys way up north, but for us tropical creatures, it’s nearly freezing.

But, everything has its positive sides. With the cloudy sky the light was just the way I like for rainforest photography: diffuse, even. Plants were nice and wet and even the drizzle made for interesting shots. This time of the year there is also a shortage of fruit in the forest, so several different species were coming to the feeders to feed on banana, papaya or guava. A banana wouldn’t last more than 15 minutes. So I set-up some natural-looking perches near the covered veranda of our lodge and we all had a very good time photographing these birds (and we kept dry!).

I have ventured into video editing just for fun and made this short clip. The footage was done by a client with a Canon 7D through a 300mm f/2.8 lens, while the photos are mine with my trusty Nikon D700 and Nikkor 600mm f/4 AF-S (some with a 1.4x TC).

Golden-winged Cacique

Cinnamon Tanager


This attractive species almost never visits feeders, so getting a good shot of one is difficult. This time however things were different and we all got good shots.

Brassy-breasted Tanager


This gorgeous little guy (a brazilian endemic) is another bird that never visits feeders. I guess food shortage in the forest is pretty bad this winter, because this guy was coming in all the time.

Blue Dacnis


If you live in a rainforest you just gotta get used with rain.

Posted in Bird photography, Destinations, Trip reports | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Great travel deal! Jaguars in the Pantanal!

Posted by campossallesfotografia on 20 de July de 2010

On next September I’m doing a scouting trip to what is, without a doubt, the single best place on Earth to almost surely photograph a wild Jaguar. This is a great opportunity to photograph at this place with a very special deal, but it’s for ONE person only! You won’t find this kind of price and conditions again, especially considering that the prices being charged are well below the usual for this operator.

Itinerary:
August 30: we get a flight from Sao Paulo Int’l Airport at 10:10 AM towards Cuiabá. There I will rent a car and drive us to one of their lodges along the Transpantaneira, the Pantanal Wildlife Center. We can start photographing along the way (mainly birds, raptors, caimans). We sleep there this night only.

August 31: early morning transfer to Porto Jofre and boat transfer to our “mothership”. They are not using camp tents anymore (as in the video), so we are staying at a big motherboat with air-conditioned cabins. Almost full day searching for jaguars on our own exclusive boat – this is huge, we won’t be sharing the boat with anyone else so we can focus entirely in our photography! Our guide has a radio to communicate with others in search of jaguars. Success rate for a 3-day stay is 99%, very often with several different Jaguar sightings.

September 01: full day photographing Jaguars.

September 02: full day photographing Jaguars.

September 03: morning transfer back to Cuiabá with photography on the way along the Transpantaneira. We take a flight at 06:30 PM back to São Paulo Int’l Airport.

Cost:
Because this is a scouting trip, I won’t be charging anything for my services. The cost of the trip is charged in Reais (brazilian currency) and so is subject to small variations according to exchange rate fluctuations. It is around R$ 5,300.00, or around US$ 2,900.00. The price includes domestic air fare, ground transportation, all lodging (full catering, except drinks), single occupancy on air conditioned rooms and exclusive boat. Price does not include int’l air fare, over-weight luggage fees, tips, meals while on the road, side trips.

Trips to this place usually cost over USD 7,000.00 and that is sharing the boat with other photographers. You don’t want to miss this deal.

Possibility of seeying a Jaguar:
First off, I have neber been to this exact place, so I can’t personally offer any guarantees, that’s why this is a scouting trip. But quoting a document from them: “Guests who stay for 3 nights have a 99.5% chance of seeying 1 or more Jaguars by day“. September is considered the best month for observations.

The Jaguars are located at the riverbanks, where they rest or hunt. They are used to boats and will allow a good approach without running away. This means hours of shooting Jaguars, always from the safety of a boat.

If you have interest please contact me ASAP at phototrips@octaviosalles.com.br

Posted in Destinations | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

No fisherman’s tale!

Posted by campossallesfotografia on 5 de July de 2010

Kingfishers are amazing birds. Like their name suggest, no other bird can catch fish so effectively. In the rich waters of the Pantanal we can find all 5 species of neotropical kingfishers. During our last trip we had a good time photographing these guys from a boat. Kingfishers are usually wary birds, but if you silently approach them from a boat they will let you get very close. So close in fact that sometimes I just could not focus with my 600mm!

The video below shows one of these moments, with a client taking some shots of a Ringed Kingfisher. We use silent electric engines on the boat, so that we can approach and position the boat at the best angles without scaring the bird.

Ringed Kingfisher, female


The Ringed Kingfisher is the largest one. Normally they are very aggressive to intruders, and that includes competition from other kingfishers, but since there are so many fish in the Pantanal rivers they will tolerate other kingfishers around during the dry season.

Amazon Kingfisher, female


The Amazon Kingfisher is a bit smaller and also very common. We saw this whole sequence: the bird dived in the water and caught a small Pacu, a fish far too wide for its throat. It first hit the fish hard against the branch several times to kill it, you can see the fish scales at the branch. Then it proceed to try to fit the fish and swallow it. I thought it wasn’t going to make it but eventually it literally folded the fish in 2 with its powerfull bill and swallowed it whole. A big meal for sure!

Green Kingfisher, male


This one is a much smaller kingfisher, very cute. Comparing to the huge Ringed ones, these guys are tiny. A good way to tell them apart from the Amazon Kingfisher, besides the obvious size difference, are the small white spots on the wing.

Posted in Bird photography, Destinations, Trip reports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 3 Comments »

Macaw festival

Posted by campossallesfotografia on 29 de June de 2010

On my Pantanal tours I always include a visit of a few days to a truly fantastic place just south of the Pantanal. This is an impressive natural crater where Red-and-green Macaws nest and roost. But in order to fly out of the deep crater they must fly in circles to gain height, and this means truly amazing opportunities for flight shots! It’s a bird photographers Disneyland, with the difference that here it’s all real 🙂

The history of this place is a great example of good conservation measures that is taking place now in many parts of Brazil. Back in the 70’s and 80’s this crater was used by local people to dump garbage and, its said, even criminals. People used to practice shooting at the macaws and they were all but exterminated of the place. Eventually a good man bought the property (which was worth less than average because of the crater – it occupied what could otherwize be a pasture for cattle) and saw the potential for eco-tourism early on. The semi-deciduous forest around the crater grew back and the macaws started to return. Initially just one single pair, but they were the most important ones, they represented hope.

The place was transformed into a private nature reserve recognized by the brazilian government. This means that it can never be destroyed again, even if eventually the property is bought by somewhere else in the future. Today the days of destruction are long gone, and over 60 pairs of macaws nest there each year, and the number is growing. Many other birds are also present, like Peach-fronted Parakeets, Blue-fronted Parrots, Blue-crowned Motmots, Buff-necked Ibis, Laughing Falcons and many many more.

I’ve got hundreds of flight shots this past trip, but I can’t post right now the best ones because I’m saving them for an upcoming photo contest. So these will have to do for now. All were shot with Nikon D700 and Nikkor 600mm f/4 AF-S.

They usually fly in pairs, but a few times a day all of them fly together. That means over 30 macaws at least, all circling and screaming, a show not to be fortgotten.

Posted in Bird photography, Destinations, Trip reports | Tagged: , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

September Pantanal trip update

Posted by campossallesfotografia on 27 de June de 2010

Just a quick update: there’s no more spaces available for our photo tour to the Pantanal in September.
Next year dates will be posted soon, stay tuned!

Posted in Destinations | Leave a Comment »

Pantanal mornings

Posted by campossallesfotografia on 26 de June de 2010

I love mornings, the best time of the day. The air is fresh and clean and birds are super active. In the Pantanal this is specially true. You often wake up well before sunrise with the raucous choruses of Chaco Chachalacas, maybe followed by the lodge’s resident Ferruginous Pygmy-Owl somewhere at the garden and then the elusive Collared Forest-Falcon call echoing in the twilight. With the first sun rays showing in the horizon is time for the parrots and macaws to wake up, hundreds of them flying overhead towards their feeding grounds.

This morning the sunrise was quite nice and we shot a few frames with the wide angle lens. This was with a Nikon D700 and Nikkor 24mm f/2.8.

A few minutes later I found this Rufescent Tiger-Heron hunting for breakfast at the same wetland. I slowly approached it with a 600mm on and took some pics.

Posted in Bird photography, Destinations, Trip reports | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Otter antics

Posted by campossallesfotografia on 23 de June de 2010

The sinuous Rio Negro in the Pantanal is inhabited by 2 species of river otters: the famous Giant River Otter and the less famous Neotropical Otter. They are both extremelly agile in the water, being able to swim very very fast, submerging at a place an resurfacing some 100 yards downriver in a matter of few seconds. While their giant counterparts are usually in groups, the smaller Neotropical Otter hunts alone.

We followed this Neotropical Otter a while downriver, with silent electric motors. Eventually it caught a fish and went to the shore to eat it – our best chance for photos!

We were able to get very close and get some good shots.

Posted in Destinations, Trip reports | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Back from the Pantanal

Posted by campossallesfotografia on 22 de June de 2010

Hi guys, I’m now back at the office from the first Pantanal photo tour this year. It was success, a great group and we all got some excellent shots. I will be posting some pics on the following days and I’m already couting the days for our second tour in September. There’s one last spot for this trip, so contact me if you have interest!

D700, Nikkor 600mm f/4, 1/60 @ f/8, ISO 200

The caiman pic above was done after an early morning of searching for Giant River Otters. We did see them but because of the fact that they were with a newly born baby, they were much more wary than usual and would not tolerate an approach. By september they should much more confinding and getting good pics should be no problem. On this morning we did get some great shots of a feeding Neotropical Otter though, which is often more difficult to find them their giant counterparts.

But anyway, back to the caiman above. We stopped at this nice fine sand beach for an “in the field” breakfast. Soon a couple caimans approached and I noticed how the trees were reflecting nicely on the water. I quickly set my tripod and lowered my ISO to 200 to drop my shutter speed to 1/80, enough to capture a bit of the river water flowing alongside the caimans head, creating a quite nice pattern. Photo done, back to the cakes, home-made breads and fresh juices.

Posted in Destinations, Trip reports | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

 
%d bloggers like this: