Red-legged Honeycreeper: Donde Cope, Gaupiles, Costa Rica — When I teach wildlife and nature photography I tell my students that 90% of wildlife photography is “being in the right place, at the right time, and ready”. Donde Cope…Cope’s home in Gaupiles, Limon, Costa Rica…is one of the “rightest” places I can image. Cope has created a miniature bird and wildlife sanctuary on the tiny village plot around his home, where you can see and photograph birds, lizards, and frogs (and some years sloths) at incredibly close range. And most days are the right time to be there…some better than others of course…dry weather is nice (or at least not pouring rain…or maybe better, not dark rain), but then a gentle rain will make the birds more active, and deepen the colors…so, yes, most any time is a good time to be at Cope’s. That only leaves “ready”. And by “ready” I mean a whole bunch of things that the photographer can do, and should do, in advance…but I also mean the sum total of the photographers experience brought to bear on each moment. You need, of course, a camera that you are comfortable with and which you know well enough so that you no longer have to “think about how it works.” You either need to have set it up for a variety of situations, and have those settings stored for easy access, or you need to know how to set it quickly as conditions change. To my way of thinking the best camera is the one you have to think about least while taking photos. You need to be able to read the light well enough to know which program to set on the camera. At Cope’s the canopy is close and heavy, so light levels are always low. I set my camera for my “low light” program…which includes multi-frame noise reduction, and hope for the best. Then it is all about seeing the subject and framing. And taking a lot of photos. Birds, especially are always moving. You need to keep them in sight and in frame. Then you just press the shutter button and let the camera do its work (or that is my theory anyway). This honeycreeper, one of the brightest and most active birds at ground level in the rain forest, landed on a stump only a few feet from me. I got it in frame and shot off a series of photos. I have the focus set to a small movable spot in the center, which I trust to put the bird in focus if I can get it anywhere on the bird. Because you can not use multi-frame noise reduction and continuous shooting at the same time, taking multiple shots meant pressing the shutter button repeatedly while the bird was still in frame. All three of the shots I saved from the sequence are keepers. This is perhaps my favorite, and I, personally, think it is stunning! I love the color, the detail, and the dynamic pose. I love what it says about the bird…how absolutely Red-legged Honeycreeper it is! Just right time, rights place, and ready. 🙂 Sony Rx10iv at 561mm equivalent (I must have zoomed back a bit to keep the bird in frame, but that is almost instinctive at this point and with this camera, and I trust the zoom to be tack sharp at whatever setting I need). Program mode with my low light modifications. Processed in Pixelmator Photo and Apple Photos. Equivalent ISO 6400 @ f4 @ 1/320th. (And again, I am confident enough of the my low light program to just let the camera do its thing…I did not choose those settings…the camera did. 🙂 So, right place, right time, and ready.