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Interview with Greg Basco, a NatureScapes Birds Forum Moderator

by Greg Basco | December 1, 2011

© Greg Basco1. How did you get started in nature photography?

While in grad school in the US, I worked full-time at the Missouri Botanical Garden as public exhibits coordinator. One of my duties was to source rainforest photographs for a large exhibit space attached to the Climatron®, the geodesic dome that is home to the Garden’s sizable tropical plant collection. I became interested in the types of photos I saw, and when I returned to Costa Rica to do my doctoral research (on the politics of ecotourism), I took a Canon Elan 7 camera plus some lenses with me and tacked a couple of photography days onto each of my research field trips.

I sold some photos to Lonely Planet and bought new gear (remember the Canon 30D, the first Canon DSLR?!). I sold a few more pictures, bought more gear, sold a few more, and the nature photography addiction was too strong to overcome. After working in conservation in Costa Rica for a couple of years, I decided to start my photo tour company, Foto Verde Tours, and to dedicate myself full-time to photo tours and my own photography for stock and prints.

2. Who or what inspires your work?

I always admire photographs that present nature in a different artistic way and done in-camera. Frans Lanting’s rainforest work was a big inspiration in the early days, and today I really like French nature photographer Vincent Munier’s photography from northern Europe.

3. What’s your favorite walk around lens?

That’s a tough call but these days it’s probably Canon’s new 70-300 mm f4-5.6 L IS zoom lens. I find it great for semi-closeup work, telephoto landscapes, nature abstracts, and environmental wildlife portraits. It’s the perfect lens for multiple-flash hummingbird photography, but that’s not exactly walk-around photography. 🙂

4. Where is your favorite place to take pictures?

The cloud forests of Costa Rica, hands-down. These forests boast an incredible biodiversity, and the often misty conditions and lush vegetation give a kind of enchanted forest effect that’s just amazing. Plus cloud forests are cool, so you don’t sweat like you do in the lowland rainforest!

5. Are there any other subjects aside from birds that you like to photograph?

Definitely, because I’m not a bird photographer. I shoot landscapes, macro, and non-bird wildlife just as much as I do birds, and I’m equally happy photographing a forest interior, a tree frog, a mushroom, a toucan, or a monkey.

6. You’ve led nature photography workshops for a few years now. What is your favorite part of leading workshops and what do you find the most difficult?

The most rewarding part of leading workshops is knowing that you’ve gotten people to just the right place, at just the right time, and with just the right equipment and techniques. Rainforest photography is quite different in many ways than nature photography in other habitats, and I love when clients write to tell me how they employed a technique from one of my Costa Rica workshops in their backyard at home or on the next trip they took to Africa or Alaska or wherever.

The most challenging part of leading workshops is getting people to slow down a bit and really work their subjects. This is understandable of course because there are so many new and different photo opportunities in Costa Rica that first-time visitors tend to get excited!

Photo Gallery
Click thumbnails for larger images
Bird in grass © Greg Basco Waterfall © Greg Basco Unique bird on branch © Greg Basco Isolated rock © Greg Basco Hummingbird © Greg Basco Jungle © Greg Basco
Crocodile © Greg Basco Night sky © Greg Basco Frog on leaf © Greg Basco Bird on branch © Greg Basco Birds perched © Greg Basco Artistic bird in flight © Greg Basco
About the Author

Greg Basco lives and works in Costa Rica where he photographs the rainforest. His photos have been awarded in both the Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition and the Nature's Best Windland Smith Rice Competition (most recently winning the Art in Nature category in the latter). He is co-author of the popular e-book The Guide to Tropical Nature Photography and recently finished a coffee table book titled National Parks of Costa Rica.

He is co-founder of a new conservation photography organization called The Tropical Conservation Photography Group which will work to provide photographic support for local and national conservation and sustainable development efforts in Costa Rica. When he is not out photographing, he leads photo workshops in Latin America, including a number of popular Costa Rica tours through NatureScapes.

You can see more of Greg's work on his website at www.deepgreenphotography.com.

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