The biological diversity of Panama is the stuff of legend. Standing as a bridge between the Northern and Southern Hemispheres, the isthmus of Panama is a place of immense beauty and a landscape where new species are still being discovered every year. Let it suffice to say that there is a very good reason the Smithsonian has no less than 9 different research facilities in this tiny little country.
And it’s this extraordinary biological diversity that sits at the heart of the workshop.
Our workshop will span both coasts of this country, in order to offer participants an unparalleled wildlife photography experience in Panama.
Beginning in Panama City, Panama, we will spend our first day of the workshop in a classroom session where you will learn the skills necessary to take full advantage of your time in the rainforest. From lowlight photography, to birds in flight, to mastering flash, this classroom session will be critically important for preparing you for the unique styles of photography and challenges that lay ahead.
After our day in the city, we will transfer to the heart of the rainforest, where the calls of keel-billed toucans mix with the roars of howler monkeys around the lodge. This lodge will be our base of operations for the next couple days as we set off by boat each morning and afternoon to photograph everything from tiger herons to snail kites, Geoffry’s tamarin to white faced capuchins.
When it comes to photographing monkeys, you will be hard pressed to find a better place in Central and South America. After nearly a decade of traveling and photographing across the neotropics, the opportunities here to create frame filling and beautiful portraits of three different species of monkeys is beyond words.
After several days exploring this region, we will then transfer to the Caribbean islands along north coast of the country by plane where the rest of the workshop will be based. The archipelago is known as Bocas del Toro.
Named “Mouth of the Bull” by Cristopher Columbus upon stumbling across these islands in 1502, the archipelago is a labyrinth of lush islands covered in lowland rainforest surrounded by coral reefs and some of the most beautiful tropical waters you have ever seen. Thanks to the unique geological history of this archipelago, each island plays home to a suite of different species of wildlife. The diversity is so extreme here, that the Smithsonian refers to the whole of the place as the Galapagos of the Caribbean.
Simply getting to our destinations is half the adventure. We will begin this part of the trip on a prop plane flying over the mountains and up the coast to our islands. Once we land on Isla Colon, we still have a half hour boat ride to the island that our lodge is based on.
Due to the distance of some of these islands form the mainland, neither jaguars or harpy eagles have reached this area. What this means for us is that there is probably no better place on the planet to find and photograph sloths. If you have been to Costa Rica to photograph sloths, nothing you have experienced will have prepared you for the extraordinary abundance of these animals in this archipelago, where we will have not one, but two different species to photograph.
It will also be here in the archipelago that we make trips out into the Caribbean to photograph red-billed tropic and magnificent frigate birds. The colony here offers up some of the most beautiful compositions you will ever find of these birds. From the moody and artistic chiaroscuro lighting to compositions of birds soaring above waves exploding on rocks, this place is one you have to experience in order to believe.
This workshop is 9 days of photography and adventure you will never forget.
Dates: October 28th – November 6th, 2022
Deposit: $2125 (25%)
Physical Difficulty: Moderate – because of heat and humidity of the tropics
Skill Level: Beginner to Advance
Lodging: All lodging is included.
Local Flights: Included
National Park Fees: Included
Not Included: Travel to and from Panama, items of a personal nature, gratuities
Airport: Tocumen International Airport (PTY)
Suggested Lodging in Panama City: J.W. Mariott Panama City
What to Expect
- A full classroom day at the beginning of the workshop where you will learn the foundation of skills necessary for taking full advantage of this workshop.
- Field studio setups for macro photography
- Extensive training on how to master the use of both single and double flashes in nature photography
- Endless opportunities for birds in flight.
- First class lodging
- The most talented and knowledgable local guides in Panama, some of whom used to work as biologists for the Smithsonian
- Unrivaled opportunities with monkeys and sloths.
- Unparalleled opportunities to photograph red-billed tropic birds and other seabirds in the Caribbean.
What about passports and visas?
You will absolutely need a valid passport for this workshop. As for a visa, your standard run of the mill tourist visa which is obtained at customs will be just fine. There are no special visas that you will need for this workshop.
When should I arrive at the hotel?
We will meet for dinner at 6pm the first night.
There are multiple airports in Panama City. Which one should I fly into?
You will want to fly into Tocumen International Airport (PTY). This is a big and very modern airport that is regularly serviced by all major airlines.
Will I need flash?
Absolutely! This workshop will be a masterclass on flash photography. Not familiar with using flash? No problem! That is exactly why you should sign up for workshops. You will only need 1 flash for this workshops, but 2 is even better.
What kind of lenses will I need?
This workshop will focus heavily on both macro and bird photography. Therefore, you will need to bring both a dedicated macro lens and a telephoto lens. For your macro, we recommend something between 100 and 180. For a telephoto lens, you will want something reaches at least 400mm.
If you do not own one of these lenses, do not feel like you need to rush out and purchase them. Renting lenses is a better option for a workshop, and we can provide you with a discount from www.lensrentals.com
What about tripods?
Yes you will! Tripods are crucially important in wildlife photography and on this workshop you will need one. Though there may be times that we hand hold our lenses, in most instances we will want to properly stabilize our equipment.
For wildlife photographers, as a general rule of thumb, you want a tripod with a load capacity that is twice the amount of weight that you will put on it. So, you were to estimate that the tripod head weights 5lbs, your camera body weighs 5lbs, you biggest lens weighs 12 lbs, this is 22 lbs total. And therefore, we recommend you have a tripod that can hold a minimum of 44lbs. Most likely you will need to round up to 50lbs for this.
Another rule of thumb for wildlife photographers is to work with a tripod that DOES NOT come with a center column. There are thousands of reasons you will want to get lower with your gear. But, there is rarely any reason you want to get taller. Thus, a tripod without a center column will allow you to get your camera all the way down to the ground – which is critically important in many situations.
For more information about Jared’s suggestion for tripods, click this link: TRIPOD PRIMER
For more information about Jared’s suggestion for heads, click this link: TRIPOD HEAD PRIMER
Please do not hesitate to contact us if you have any questions regarding this or any other workshop that we offer. To the left, you will find a simple contact form in place to make this process as simple as possible for you. We realize however that sometimes these sorts of onsite forms are difficult to work with when more lengthy questions and comments are necessary. Therefore, below you will also find the appropriate email, phone number, and even facebook account that you can contact us with if you would prefer.
e: education at jaredlloydphoto dot com
Fact: flights get canceled, airlines overbook, snow storms shut down airports, family members get sick, doctors occasionally deliver unexpected news. Life is what happens as we are busy making plans. John Lennon said that, and it’s about as true of a statement that can be made when it comes to travel.
The recent loss of power to Delta’s systems that led to the grounding and cancellation of thousands of flights drives home this point. With so many variables and possibilities out there that cannot be foreseen or planned for, we highly recommend purchasing trip insurance for this workshop. The costs are surprisingly low and well worth the small expense. Trip insurance gives you peace of mind and allows you to know that if one of those little inevitabilities in life happens to pop up, you will not lose your money spent on your workshop and flights.
CSA and Travel Guard are the two big ones out there. But you can get instant comparative quotes through www.insuremytrip.com
We are committed to conservation. This the driving force behind Jared Lloyd’s work as a wildlife photographer. As with all of our workshops, a percentage of our profits from each trip goes directly to conservation organizations working on the ground in those areas where we conduct workshops.
When you sign up for the Wildlife of Panama photo workshop, we donate money to the Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project.
Of all the animals on Earth, amphibians currently face the greatest threat of extinction. There are myriad reasons for this right now, but the one that gets the most attention is an invasive species of fungus that has been spread around the world thanks to the medical industry. Amphibians all across the neotropics have been hard hit by a unique disease caused by the Chytrid fungus which has caused unprecedented population declines and the complete extinction of many different species of frogs. This fungus was introduced to the Americas with the importation of the African Claw Frog. For decades, the African Claw Frog was used in human pregnancy tests which led to the wide spread international trade of live specimens. As these frogs began to show up all across the Western Hemisphere and Australia, so to did the Chytrid fungus and the current amphibian apocalypse.
The Panama Amphibian Rescue and Conservation Project is working to rescue species of frogs across Panama that are in imminent danger of extinction – such as the Panamanian Golden Frog – by both rescuing and reintroducing populations of these species where they have otherwise been completely destroyed. The Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute works closely with this organization as they race against time to save these species from extinction.