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• CostaRica •PhotographyKevin heslinEST.D 2006

Costa Rica Travel Photography – Trek with Outward Bound

Costa Rica Travel Photography

Traditional moledor, or grinder, in Costa Rica

The corn grinder i would hear at 4am every morning

Costa Rica Travel Photography

A month ago I lucked out by having Outward Bound ask me to go along on one of their courses to take photographs.  These are my favorite kind of travel projects: go out to the middle of nowhere and take photos of families.  There is something very timeless in these portraits.  And having seen some of the area we were to cover I realized it would take us through parts of Costa Rica I had never been to in my seven years living here.  Obviously I jumped at the chance and started preparing my gear to be out in the mountains of Costa Rica for a week.

The course we were to embark on started from Santa Maria de Dota, where we were to hike to Piedras Blancas a few days away.  From there we would continue hiking to the Brujo River, and then raft the river out to the Coastal Highway.  The students in the course were all from a high school in Texas, and for most of them it was their first time in Costa Rica. They were all in shape though, the majority seemed to be in track, and it was a challenge trying to keep up with them.

I was able to pack all my camera gear into one 1300 Pelican box, since I knew it would be raining a lot.  Nonetheless, one of the difficulties I had were the few times we were descending from the forest to a valley.  As you can imagine, when the light is right, the uppermost part of a valley provides some excellent views.  But I would have to plan my shot and take it quickly because within 30 seconds of taking my camera out of the pelican case it would start to steam up and be covered in condensation.  This is because my camera was cool from being in the upper cloud forest.  Being suddenly exposed to the sun, the cool camera would start to take moisture out of the hot humid air just like a cold glass of water.  And in Costa Rica, a glass of cold water will have an enormous pool of water around surrounding it.

The proper things to do would be to slowly let my camera acclimate, i.e., slowly bring it into the sunlight over the course of 5-10 minutes.  But don’t forget, there is a whole group hiking that doesn’t want to stop for me every few minutes when I decide I see something that needs shooting.

For me the high points of the trip was definitely coming down into Piedras Blancas after a few days of tough hiking.  We stayed with some local families who were actually the families of the Outward Bound guides.  These towns were so remote that to get in or out of the town, the residents needed to take a horse for two and a half hours to get to a road were cars could pass.  And the two and a half hours is real tricky maneuvering for a horse.  Therefore, big things like wood iron stoves needed to be carried in by groups of guys carrying these items on their shoulders.

One of the things that stuck with me from the trip is that because these towns are so remote, the families living here have real intimate relationships.  You can see from some of these photos that family members are always touching, or hugging each other.  I image its from interdependence a family needs to have to be able to live so far away from other communities.

Costa Rica Travel Photography

Woman with baby in Piedras Blancas

One of the guides for outward bound

One of the guides for outward bound

A house nestled in the mountains

House in the mountains

a house along the way

House in the mountains

a waterfall in the mountains of Costa Rica

A waterfall we saw along the way

Chorreando cafe, the traditional way to make coffee in Costa Rica.

The traditional way to make coffee

Man in his sugarcane field in costa rica

Man in his sugarcane fields

Piedras blancas costa rica

House in Piedras blancas

Costa Rica Travel Photography

Man comes to visit his pregnant daughter.

Family life in Rural Costa RicaMountains of Piedras Blancas, Costa Rica.Family life in Piedras BlancasDaughter and Father in small town in Costa RicaHorse with tree in Piedras Blancasboy with mountains in background

boy walking with sack of beans.

 

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Kevin Heslin
Photography