Amazon Voyage - October, 2009
with International Expeditions

From Oct. 23 through Nov. 1 2009, I had the pleasure of being the Photography Leader for the Amazon Voyage conducted by International Expeditions.  There were 30 of us all together, and we had an awesome time exploring the Peruvian section of the Amazon River.  We covered around 620 miles of what is generally considered the world's largest river, starting at the town of Nauta, and going upstream on the Ucayali River, getting as far as the Pacaya River, returning to the confluence of the Ucayali River and the Maranon River to spend additional time going up the Maranon River, and then finally returning to Nauta.

The facilities onboard La Amatista were quite comfortable and enjoyable, and it was easy to forget how remote we really were.  The dining area had spacious windows all along the back and sides, giving us a wonderful view of the Amazon as we ate and enjoyed one another's company.  This was also the location for the daily Photography Workshop sessions we held - we were able to cover a wide variety of topics, and the photographers, whether beginner or advanced, were able to improve their shooting skills and knowledge.

We did several hikes through jungle areas (experiencing the hot and humid conditions expected in the Amazon!), visited several local villages, did some Piranha fishing (and enjoyed eating them for lunch a couple of hours later!), had a couple of meals either on our speedboats or in the jungle, and learned quite a lot about the local area, both in terms of the people, nature, and even politics.  We saw an incredible diversity of nature and wildlife, enjoying the myriad kinds of Bromeliads, Trees and other vegetation, numerous species of birds, monkeys, rodents, reptiles and lizards, bats, amphibians, fish, insects and spiders, etc., and were even able to see a 13-foot Anaconda that some of the local villagers had recently taken back from poachers.

As expected, shooting conditions were often difficult, facing the challenges of subject distance, backlighting, etc. that are characteristic of most nature and wildlife photography in Central and South America.  Despite this, we were still able to have some fairly close encounters with a number of species, and examined several species of frogs and toads, and 2 species of Caiman, quite up-close and personal.  Because much of the shooting would be done on the speedboats, with limited space, and because the hiking would present other challenges, I decided to leave my primary birding and wildlife lens, the Canon 600L/f4 IS, at home, along with my tripod.  As will be seen in the shooting specs, I mostly used the Canon 100-400L/f4.5-5.6 IS lens, and most of the time had the Canon 1.4x II Teleconverter on it as well.  This made it considerably more difficult for me to consistently get the kind of image quality I strive for, but I did enjoy the challenge this presented.  I should also acknowledge that I had to do significantly more cropping of the original files than I would prefer, due to the lack of reach relative to the 600mm lens!

Lastly, I continue to use the QStarz BT-Q1000 Platinum GPS Receiver to track my location while I'm shooting.  Then using the program RoboGeo, I can put the latitude and longitude for each image into the EXIF or 'Metadata' for each file, so I know exactly where I was when the shot was taken.  I can then create Google Earth files, to show the actual map locations for the photos, along with a thumbnail image.  If you have Google Earth installed, you can click or download the following files to see where the photos were taken: Amazon Birds 1, Amazon Birds 2, Amazon Other.

All Content © Donald L. Cohen, MD
All Rights Reserved

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Amazon Voyage 2009 - Other

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Capybara Dead Leaf Cricket Woodland Katydid


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Unknown Caterpillar Two-striped Poison Dart Frog Bridled Forest Gecko


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Bullet Ant Red-backed Poison Dart Frog Orb Weaving Spider


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Wagner's Sac-winged Bat