Macro Photography Workshop Costa Rica

Costa Rica

Bright yellow eyelash viper © Tom Whelan

In a small group setting, learn and capture outstanding images of amazing colors and fine details in the tiny world of Costa Rica’s biodiverse rainforests.

Led by award-winning nature photographer and naturalist Tom Whelan and avid macro and wildlife photographer Paulo Valerio, this instructional photography workshop takes you to some of the best places in Costa Rica for macro photography.

Experience the Extraordinary Diversity of Nature in Costa Rica

What You’ll Learn and Have the Opportunity to Photograph

On this macro photography workshop we will explore all manner of macro subjects including poison and tree frogs, a variety of insects, tropical flowers and foliage, mushrooms, snakes, lizards, and iguanas. We will also shoot a bit of bird, wildlife, and landscapes, including Costa Rica’s notorious Arenal Volcano. During your macro photography workshop, we will personally guide you on photographic techniques such as shooting with natural light from a tripod, working handheld with natural light and shallow depth of field, and using flash, one of our specialties!

Red-eyed tree frog on purple flower © Tom Whelan

“This workshop was excellent with lots of ideas, tips, and explanations given from both Greg and Tom. They have superb knowledge which they are very willing to share, and provided expert instruction with endless patience.” –Moira G.


Day 1, May 14
Arrival to San José, Costa Rica

Your adventure begins! Meet our representative at the Juan Santamaría International Airport and transfer to our hotel near the capital city of San José, where Paulo Valerio will be awaiting your arrival. Our hotel is surrounded by a beautiful tropical garden filled with great subjects for macro photography, including orchids, bromeliads, and passionflowers. There is free wireless Internet accessible throughout the property.

Day 2, May 15 at Central Valley
Classroom session, flash techniques, focus stacking, and flower photography

After breakfast, we spend the morning in the classroom going over the macro photography techniques that we will be employing during our time out in the field but with a special emphasis. Paulo Valerio will lead us this day to practice his flash techniques for creating dramatic macro images. Throughout the day we’ll be working on these techniques in the fantastic gardens right behind the hotel. The orchids, bromeliads, heliconias, and passion flowers in the gardens are simply amazing. We will also work on focus stacking to extend depth of field beyond what is possible to capture in a single image.

Day 3, May 16 at Lowland Rainforest
Frogs and special photographic lighting techniques

After breakfast today, we head to our first field destination in the Atlantic lowlands. We arrive for lunch and immediately set in to begin photographing the two species of poison frogs that frequent the lodge grounds. In the evening before dinner, we have a session with the resident red-eyed tree frogs, during which we will employ a special technique using flashlights for dramatic portraits of these amazing nocturnal frogs.

Strawberry poison frog © Greg Basco

Day 4, May 17 at Lowland Rainforest
Macro photography of frogs and insects

This morning after breakfast, we have a visit to a nearby local farm to photograph a number of different species of colorful native frogs and insects. After lunch at a local restaurant, we explore the grounds of our lodge for macro opportunities before enjoying a relaxing dinner.

Day 5, May 18 at Lowland Rainforest
Birds including tanagers, honeycreeprs, toucans, and macaws

Today we take a break from macro photography and focus on birds. We will visit a local property where we’ve helped to set up bird feeders that attract colorful tanagers, honeycreepers, and even toucans! We then head to a nearby farm where we’ve worked with the owner to provide opportunities to photograph wild scarlet and great green macaws. We will enjoy a delicious home-cooked lunch on site and then spend all afternoon photographing the macaws!

Day 6, May 19 at Cloud Forest
Central Volcanic Mountain Range and hummingbird photography

After breakfast this morning, we travel to the higher cloud forests of the northern Central Volcanic Mountain Range, and our next lodge, which is located in one of the most biodiverse areas of the country, nestled in a picturesque valley at approximately 4,500 feet above sea level. With its rushing mountain streams, cool air, and orchid and moss-festooned trees, the area is akin to a tropical Colorado. We arrive to our lodge for lunch and then have time to get settled in and then photograph hummingbirds on attractive perches.

Green-crowned brilliant © Tom Whelan

Day 7, May 20 at Cloud Forest
Insects, frogs, mushrooms, wildlife, and hummingbirds

Today we take the entire day to explore our lodge’s private cloud forest reserve, which contains some fantastic frogs, insects, and mushrooms that will be great for photographing with macro and wide angle lenses. In late afternoon, we can usually obtain great portraits of the turkey-like black guan and the large forest rodent, the agouti, which visit the feeding areas right outside the lodge dining hall. And we also will work on photographing the abundant hummingbirds with natural light and fill-flash, both in-flight and perched. In the evening, we will look for glass frogs and other nocturnal frog species in the forest.

Day 8, May 21 at Arenal Volcano
Waterfall, foliage, and the famous Arenal Volcano

After breakfast, we travel to the Arenal Volcano area. En route, we make a stop for lunch and a little break from macro photography and head to a nearby waterfall, which is 110 meters high and offers beautiful photographic opportunities of the waterfall itself and the surrounding cloud forest. There are some spectacular tropical foliage shots here of palms and ferns on the cliffs surrounding the waterfall. This is a great place to work on some wide angle and telephoto landscapes and can be an interesting place to explore HDR techniques if so inclined.We arrive to our lodge in late afternoon to photograph the sunset and the Arenal Volcano. Our lodge affords some of the area’s best photographic views of the famous Arenal volcano and offers fantastic sunset views over Lake Arenal and the surrounding hills.

Day 9, May 22 at Arenal Volcano
Tanagers, honeycreepers, snakes, frogs, lizards, and Arenal Volcano

We dedicate the early morning to photographing Montezuma oropendolas, Passerini’s tanager, green honeycreepers, red-legged honeycreepers, and emerald tanagers at the lodge feeders. Mid-morning, we depart for a nearby location run by one of our friends. There we have special access to photograph numerous color forms of the amazing eyelash vipers, parrot snakes and vine snakes, as well as some of the incredible frogs and small lizards. We will photograph all of these animals on natural stages that we will set up on site. This is a great opportunity to photograph a number of species that are very difficult to find in the wild and also to continue our work on multiple flash setups for pleasing macro lighting. We will enjoy a delicious home-cooked lunch as well as refreshments and coffee throughout the day. We return to the our lodge in late afternoon to photograph the sunset and the Arenal Volcano.

Basilisk lizard © Tom Whelan

Day 10, May 23 back to San José

After breakfast, we pack up and return to our hotel in San José. En route we stop for a tasty lunch at a small restaurant famous for its population of wild iguanas, which are quite photogenic and easily accessible. We arrive to our hotel in late afternoon and then we will enjoy a farewell dinner in the hotel restaurant.

Day 11, May 24
Airport for departure

Your macro photography workshop adventure has concluded! Today you will take a private transfer to the airport for your flight home.

One of the Finest Macro Photography Workshops in the Rainforest

Embark on an invigorating journey in Costa Rica with two talented photography workshop leaders.

Tom enjoys sharing his passion for nature’s tiniest details and is excited to share Costa Rica with you. He joined NatureScapes in its early days, becoming a moderator for our Flora and Macro gallery a few years later. On this macro photography workshop, Tom and Paulo will guide you every step of the way to discover new species while teaching you new techniques that will make your images sing!


  • Lodging as specified
  • Meals as specified
  • Private transfers to and from airports and hotels on first and last days
  • Professional driver and private transportation in spacious, air-conditioned tour bus
  • Professional bilingual photo/nature/culture guide
  • Photo guide assistance with workshops and informal photo learning
  • Photo guide assistance with caption and species identification information for your images
  • Entrances and fees for all described activities
  • Taxes on all services listed above

Does Not Include

  • Airfare
  • Alcoholic drinks
  • Gratuities
  • Non-mealtime snacks
  • Non-mealtime soft drinks and bottled water
  • Dinner on the first night (May 14)


  • May 14–24, 2019, $4,995 (net, per person, in USD, double occupancy)
  • Non-photographers get a $500 discount
  • Single supplement is an additional $650
  • Limit 8 photographers

Costa Rica flower © Greg Basco

If you would like to register for this workshop, please fill out the registration form. A non-refundable deposit (listed above) is required to reserve your spot. Please refer to our workshop information section for our cancellation and refund policies.

Workshop Information
  • Dates: May 14-24, 2019 (7 openings)
  • Cost: $4,995
  • Deposit: $750
  • Participants: 8

Can’t make these dates? Also see Macro Photography Workshop Costa Rica 2020.

Single Supplement: $650
Non-photographer discount: $500
The single supplement fee reflects our actual cost and is subject to availability. If you are a single traveler and we are unable to place you with a roommate, you will be placed in a single room and charged the single supplement fee.

Paulo Valerio

Paulo Valerio

Paulo Valerio is an amateur nature and outdoor photographer, very interested in macro and wildlife. He has also started working in other areas of photography, such as landscape, black and white, and studio. He is also an avid birdwatcher. Paulo’s photos have been published in Outdoor Photographer and other magazines.

Costa Rican born and raised, Paulo graduated as a tropical ecologist from the Biology School of the National University, where he also worked in the Soil and Hydrology Lab. Continue reading »

Tom Whelan

Tom Whelan

Tom Whelan is an award-winning nature photographer and naturalist who specializes in close-up photography of plants and insects, portraits of wildlife, and intimate landscapes. His images range from abstracts of natural designs, to butterfly portraits, high magnification images of ice crystals, floral abstracts, and forest and waterfall scenes. He is a member of the Massachusetts Audubon Society, the North American Butterfly Association, and the Massachusetts Butterfly Club. Continue reading »

Greg was the best workshop leader I have had the pleasure to have worked with. Unlike other experiences, his focus was on the participants and helping them improve their photography.
Michael C.
Rainforest Macro Photography - Costa Rica
I love the beauty of nature and people. This workshop combined both of these loves. Costa Rica is a beautiful country; pair that with a group of supportive, friendly people and you come up with a winner of a trip.
Nancy A.
Rainforest Macro Photography - Costa Rica
This workshop was excellent with lots of ideas, tips, and explanations given from both Greg and Tom. They have superb knowledge which they are very willing to share, and provided expert instruction with endless patience.
Moira G.
Rainforest Macro Photography - Costa Rica