Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, portfolio, image, spring, landscape, Nikon, Owharoa Falls, North Island, New Zealand, Aotearoa, Coromandel, waterfall, clear blue sky, tree ferns, rocks, river, cascade, pool
Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, portfolio, image, spring, landscape, Nikon, Owharoa Falls, North Island, New Zealand, Aotearoa, Coromandel, waterfall, clear blue sky, tree ferns, rocks, river, cascade, pool
Simon Bourne - Photographer
Simon Bourne - Photographer

Photography Blog - 2024

Jun 24 - Pacific Coast Wildlife, Punta Islita, Costa Rica

After Monteverde, we drove across to Punta Islita on the Nicoya Peninsula, which was a very quiet spot on the fabulous Pacific Ocean coast, accessed only by miles of rough dirt tracks.  Annoyingly, we couldn’t take the direct route across the Tempisque River as the only bridge, the cable-stayed Puente La Amistad, was closed for major structural repairs – it’s only 20 years old!  This required a 3 hour detour up to Liberia.

 

It was all worth it though as Punta Islita was fantastic – much hotter and more humid than inland, but a wonderful hotel, deserted beach location, glorious scenery and an abundance of wildlife, as well as cracking thunderstorms at night.

 

First image is of a Black Spiny-tailed Iguana (Ctenosaura similis) as it wondered around behind the beach, pretty much oblivious to me.  It was eating those green leaves and then crawled up on to the log to watch the Pacific waves crashing on to the beach.  It was quite some size, at about a 1m long, tail included.  I only had my D810 and 24-120mm f/4 on me at the time – this was taken at 120mm, f/8 for good depth of field, 1/400s and ISO 125.  You certainly notice the much better dynamic range on my D810 compared to my D500, allowing you to really dig in to the shadows with no loss of quality.

 

Just a few moments later a Scarlet Macaw (Ara macao) flew in to one of the many Beach Almond trees along the edge of the beach.  It moved its way around the tree picking off the large nuts, cracking them open with its beak and then eating the nutty core.  It’s only when you see the photos that you realise the size and strength of its tongue!  It also was very well balanced, in holding on to the nut with one claw and on to the tree branch with its other one.  This shot used 120mm, f/8, 1/500s and ISO 200.

Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Tintagel, Cornwall, portfolio, image, spring, Costa Rica, brown lizard, wildlife, Black Spiny-tailed Iguana, Punta Islita, Nicoya Peninsula, tropical, beach, sea, claw, scales, tail Black Iguana 09, Costa Rica 2024
Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Tintagel, Cornwall, portfolio, image, spring, Costa Rica, red bird, wildlife, Scarlet Macaw, Punta Islita, Nicoya Peninsula, tropical, beach almond tree, beak, claw, eating Scarlet Macaw 07, Costa Rica 2024

Jun 24 - Hummingbirds in Curi Cancha, Monteverde, Costa Rica

The Curi Cancha Wildlife Reserve in Monteverde is up at about 1,500m, which is why there were so many hummingbirds here.  There are over 50 different hummingbirds in Costa Rica and so it was good that we had a great guide to point out most of them to us.  Even so, I still had to do a fair amount of research back home to check that each image was correctly identified, which helps for selling them on Alamy.

 

These two were taken again on my D500 and 70-200mm f/4 combination, cropped to 3,000 by 2,000 pixels to get close enough.  Both were at 190mm, f/4 and 1/500s.  It was still quite shady (at about EV 11), needing ISOs of 400-800.  I use Manual for nearly all my photos, where I have time to consider and compose the image, but I do use the Auto ISO function for these sort of shots, enabling you to select the aperture and shutter speed, while the camera finds the ISO to suit.  This is great for these types of picture where you have no time at all to get the right exposure.  I would have used a slightly higher shutter speed if the light was brighter, but didn’t want to push the ISO too high either.  Even the first image works well though at this speed, with some nice motion blur in the wing movements.

 

The first picture is the Lesser Violetear Hummingbird (Colibri cyanotus) feeding from a purple flower.  They only stay on each flower for a few seconds and then skitter away somewhere else very quickly, making them difficult to photograph.  If you had time, you’d set up over just one flower and wait.  The second is a Purple-throated Mountaingem Hummingbird (Lampornis calolaemus), just waiting for a few seconds on the top of a stem.

Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Tintagel, Cornwall, portfolio, image, spring, Costa Rica, bird, wildlife, Lesser Violetear Hummingbird, Curi Cancha, Monteverde, hummingbird, tropical, flowers, nectar, beak, flying Lesser Violetear Hummingbird 03, Costa Rica 2024
Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Tintagel, Cornwall, portfolio, image, spring, Costa Rica, bird, wildlife, Purple-throated Mountaingem Hummingbird, Curi Cancha, Monteverde, hummingbird, tropical, flowers, nectar, beak, sitting Purple-throated Mountaingem Hummingbird 01, Costa Rica 2024

Jun 24 - Toucans in Costa Rica

We saw this Yellow-throated Toucan (Ramphastos ambiguus swainsonii) in the trees by the side of the road by Lake Arenal, as we drove from the Arenal Volcano area down to Monteverde.  It’s also known as the Chestnut-mandibled or Black-mandibled Toucan.  It was taken with my D500 with the 70-200mm f/4 lens, as I didn’t bring my 200-500mm f/5.6 lens with me - space was too tight in my bag.  So, I did have to crop the frame quite tightly to get a good composition – 3,000 by 2,000 pixels though is the smallest that I can use for sale on Alamy.  It was taken at 200mm, f/5.6, 1/1000s and ISO 100.

 

Once in Monteverde, we went to the Curi Cancha Wildlife Reserve, which was much less crowded than the Monteverde Cloud Forest itself.  We did see Keel-billed Toucans (Ramphastos sulfuratus) here but I only captured one on camera, which was quite some distance away, as it came out of a hole in a tree.  Even with cropping, it was still too small in the picture for my liking.

 

I did get this Northern Emerald Toucanet (Aulacorhynchus prasinus) though as it came out of another tree hole.  It’s bit smaller than a normal toucan and quite green!  Sadly, it was dull on the day and very dull up in the trees, meaning that I had to use an extremely high ISO.  Even with a good dose of noise reduction in Lightroom, the final image is fine, but not good enough for sale.  It was taken at 200mm, f/4, 1/320s and ISO 10,000.

 

There were so many other birds in Curi Cancha, and we had a great guide to point them all out to us, but more of those in the next blog.

Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Tintagel, Cornwall, portfolio, image, spring, Costa Rica, bird, wildlife, Yellow-throated Toucan, Lake Arenal, toucan, tropical, trees, beak Yellow-throated Toucan 02, Costa Rica 2024
Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Tintagel, Cornwall, portfolio, image, spring, Costa Rica, bird, wildlife, Northern Emerald Toucanet, Monteverde Cloud Forest, Curi Cancha, toucan, tropical, trees, beak, tree hole Northern Emerald Toucanet 01, Costa Rica 2024

May 24 - Arenal Volcano, La Fortuna, Costa Rica

What a view from our hotel room!  Uninterrupted vista of a huge and classically-shaped stratovolcano (1,670m high), with only tropical rainforest between it and us.  The grounds of the hotel were fabulous too as a colourful foreground.  The Arenal Volcano was the most active in Costa Rica until 2010, and indeed one of the ten most active in the world.  However, it has been dormant since 2010.

 

This first photo was captured just before sunset, as the thunderstorms and rains rolled in for the evening.  Looking south, it was taken at 31mm, f/11, 1/3s using a tripod and ISO 80.  I took some the following morning too as the Howler Monkeys were howling in the forest, but the light was not quite as good.

 

Later in the day, we went to the Arenal Volcano National Park and trekked along to this other viewpoint that was at the edge of the 1992 lava field.  This view of the volcano is now looking east.  It was now mid-morning but the low cloud over the peak still looked impressive, especially this shot that looked like the crater was fuming!  It was taken at 24mm, f/10, 1/160s and ISO 100.

Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Tintagel, Cornwall, portfolio, image, spring, Costa Rica, Arenal Volcano, dormant, La Fortuna, Alajuela, tropical, trees, storm clouds, landscape, dusk Arenal Volcano 03, Costa Rica 2024
Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Tintagel, Cornwall, portfolio, image, spring, Costa Rica, Arenal Volcano National Park, dormant, La Fortuna, Alajuela, tropical, trees, storm clouds, landscape Arenal Volcano 09, Costa Rica 2024

May 24 - Tropical Alajuela, San Jose, Costa Rica

After a day-long journey via Montreal, we spent the first day resting above the capital, San Jose.  Our hotel was in Alajuela, up in the mountains overlooking San Jose.  It had fabulously tropical grounds with every assortment of typical Costa Rican plants, especially the various Heliconias.  It was just at the start of the rainy season and so was not too hot (a nice 250C) but not yet too wet – it really just rained in the late afternoon or early evening, with massive and very spectacular thunderstorms.

 

This first image is the Red Ginger (Alpinia purpurata) with vividly red bracts – these are part of the leaves, of course, with a white flower only forming at the ends of the bract.  It was taken at 92mm on my very versatile 24-120mm f/4 lens on the D810, using f/8, 1/125s and ISO 200.  The second photo is of a lovely starburst through the leaves of a palm tree, probably a coconut palm, which was taken at 24mm using f/11, 1/160s and ISO 100.

 

There was a trail in the grounds around the Rio Tacacori that we took, expecting to see five fairly small waterfalls – in reality, it was quite a trek, with each waterfall being very significant, certainly by UK standards.  Not a huge volume of water in each one but some very considerable drops.  This last picture was of the middle fall of the five, taken at 31mm, f/8, 1/125s and ISO 400.  If I had known they were all going to be that dramatic, I would have brought my tripod along to get some better shots at a lower ISO, eg at f/16, 1/4s and ISO 64.

 

On to La Fortuna and the Arenal Volcano next, where we were meeting up with our daughter and her boyfriend, who have been back-packing from Mexico to Panama since the New Year.

Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Tintagel, Cornwall, portfolio, image, spring, Costa Rica, Alajuela, San Jose, tropical, trees, red ginger, red bract, red flower Alajuela 08, Costa Rica 2024
Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Tintagel, Cornwall, portfolio, image, spring, Costa Rica, Alajuela, San Jose, tropical, palm tree, sunburst, starburst Alajuela 13, Costa Rica 2024
Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Tintagel, Cornwall, portfolio, image, spring, Costa Rica, Alajuela, San Jose, tropical, trees, Rio Tacacori, river, waterfall, landscape Rio Tacacori 03, Costa Rica 2024

Apr 24 - Tail End of Storm Kathleen, Tintagel

It’s been so wet here for months, almost ever since we got back from Canada in October!  These two shots were taken the day after Storm Kathleen, when it was still very windy, but not actually wet.  Even though it was the middle of the Easter holidays, not many people were around either.  English Heritage had closed the island due to the bad weather, as it always does when the wind really gets up.  The tide was going out but low tide was still a couple of hours away.

 

Both images were taken on my 24-120mm f/4 at 31mm, ISO 100, f/9 and 1/250s to capture the wave actions.  The first was looking from the Barras Nose headland back in to Tintagel Haven with St Materiana’s Church on the cliff top and the waterfall from our stream crashing on to the beach.  It’s actually the River Trerammet, not a stream.  There were a few people on the beach, wandering in to Merlin’s Cave, but I removed them in Photoshop, as they spoil my nice clean view otherwise!  The white balance was best at 7,000K and the sky was held back by 0.8 stops with a mask.

 

The second photo was looking north from the same spot in to the cove of Gullastem with the Willapark headland beyond, and the two rocks of The Sisters just out at sea.  In the distance are the headlands at Boscastle and Crackington Haven.  There’s always a great view from the bench located here – on this occasion, Jilayne was able to model as the wind-swept person looking out to the stormy seas.

 

One of the many reasons that I remove people from my images is that I cannot sell them on Alamy without providing Model Releases, which in this case, I have of course!

Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Tintagel, Cornwall, portfolio, image, spring, sea, surf, Storm Kathleen, waves, cliffs, Tintagel Island, castle, church, waterfall, beach Tintagel Haven 06, Tintagel 2024
Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Tintagel, Cornwall, portfolio, image, spring, sea, surf, Storm Kathleen, waves, cliffs, Gullastem, Willapark, cove Gullastem 04, Tintagel 2024

Feb 24 - Long Exposures at Tintagel Island, Cornwall

I’ve been meaning to get some long exposure sea shots around here for months, but it’s been so wet and windy since we got back from Canada.  There was a good opportunity a few days ago though – not quite clear skies,  but at least dry and some reasonable surf to capture.

 

There’s really only two places to get the best views of the Tintagel Island and the footbridge to the mainland.  The shots from Barras Nose (the headland just behind the footbridge in these pictures) are always good, as you can see the island, the bridges, the church (St Materiana’s) and our waterfall on to the beach at Tintagel Haven.  The problem is that the cove is generally quite shady, especially early morning or late afternoon, because the sun generally rises behind the hills and sets behind the island.  So, the better location is up on Glebe Cliff, where that side of the island gets the light at both sunrise and sunset.

 

Both these pictures were taken from Glebe Cliff using my D810 and 16-35mm f/4 lens at 24mm, and with a 10-stop ND filter.  The first image was taken in the morning, about 1½ hours after sunrise, using f/8, ISO 80 and a 10s exposure.  The normal light was around EV 13, which drops to about EV 3 with the ND filter – hence the long exposure.  I took a number of shots at 1s, 2.5s, 5s, 10s and 20s to see which came out best.  Whereas a lot of my painterly waterfall images might use a range from 1/8s to 1/2s to get a good sense of milky water but with good detail still, my sea/surf images tend to work better at a lower speed of 2.5s to 10s.  It’s all to do with the speed of the water – crashing waves are slower than falling waterfalls, and therefore appear better at lower shutter speeds.  You always have to experiment each time though.

 

The second photo was taken later in the day, about an hour before sunset.  The light was a bit brighter and more dramatic, but the surf was not quite as large as in the morning.  It was taken using f/8, ISO 100 and a 5s exposure.  Ideally, I would have preferred the late afternoon shot with the morning surf!  That’s why we have to go back again and again to places to capture the perfect event in the perfect light!

Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Tintagel, Cornwall, portfolio, image, winter, morning, dawn, sunrise, Glebe Cliff, sea, surf, long exposure, cliffs, Tintagel Island, castle Tintagel Island 03, Tintagel 2024
Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Tintagel, Cornwall, portfolio, image, winter, evening, afternoon, dusk, sunset, Glebe Cliff, sea, surf, long exposure, cliffs, Tintagel Island, castle Tintagel Island 07, Tintagel 2024

Jan 24 - Storms and Deer at Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, Canada

It was stormy and very wet for the whole four days that we were on Vancouver Island - none of which helps with getting good shots!  We were staying right on the coast in Ucluelet, which linked straight in to the Wild Pacific Trail, and it was certainly very wild.  This first shot was down near the lighthouse on Amphitrite Point, as the waves crashed on to the rocks.  I liked this particular image as there is also a black Cormorant flying in front of the surf.  This was taken on my D500 and 200-500mm f/5.6 lens at 200mm, f/5.6, 1/640s and ISO 100.  We also caught a fleeting glimpse of a Bald Eagle here, flying through the coastal trees, very close by, but not for long enough to capture anything.  We had also seen one near Banff a few weeks earlier, but again only for a few minutes and not close enough to get any nice photos.

 

We spent another few hours on the Wild Pacific Trail, but saw no whales or seals in the sea and nothing on land.  There lots of signs about the bears, cougars and wolves, but they were all clearly keeping well out of the way too.  This was probably good news about the cougars and wolves, but just a glimpse of a Black Bear would have been nice!

 

Anyway, we did see this pair of White-tailed Deer (Odocoileus virginianus) just on the way back in to the town – eating grass by the roadside, without a care for anyone around.  Both pictures were taken with the same D500 and telephoto zoom combination, using 350-450mm, f/5.6, 1/640s and ISO 1400, as it was quite shady and dull in the drizzle.  The female (or doe) was slightly smaller with no antlers, while the male (or buck) had antlers; quite small ones though – so, he was presumably still young.

Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Cornwall, portfolio, image, landscape, Amphitrite Point, Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, Canada, British Columbia, autumn, storm, sea, surf, waves, Pacific Ocean Ucluelet 05, Canada 2023
Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Cornwall, portfolio, image, wildlife, Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, Canada, British Columbia, autumn, White-tailed Deer, whitetail, female, doe White-tailed Deer 08, Ucluelet, Canada 2023
Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Cornwall, portfolio, image, wildlife, Ucluelet, Vancouver Island, Canada, grass, British Columbia, autumn, White-tailed Deer, whitetail, buck, antlers White-tailed Deer 09, Ucluelet, Canada 2023

Jan 24 - Cloud Inversion over Earls Cove, BC, Canada

When we got down to Earls Cove to catch the very early, first ferry of the day, it was completely foggy, but just as the sun rose, the whole area was covered in a lovely cloud or temperature inversion.  This is where the higher air is warmer than the cooler water in the bay, producing those beautiful low-hanging clouds – all very typical of an autumnal early morning around water.

 

The Sunshine Coast Highway 101 simply stops at Earls Cove and you have to get the ferry across to Saltery Bay, where the road picks up again.  We then drove around to Powell River and caught the much larger ferry across the Salish Sea to Comox on Vancouver Island – more of that in my next blogs!

 

This photo was taken from the first ferry, looking back towards Earls Cove and the rising sun, using my 24-70mm f/2.8 at 31mm, f/13, 1/250s and ISO 64.

Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Cornwall, portfolio, image, landscape, Earls Cove, Salish Sea, Canada, mountains, British Columbia, sunrise, dawn, autumn, ferry, fall, low cloud, cloud inversion Earls Cove 04, Canada 2023

Jan 24 - Harbour Seal Catch, Egmont, Canada

A couple of days later, before we left the Skookumchuck Narrows and caught the ferry across to Vancouver Island, we were again down by the water’s edge looking for watery wildlife.  This time another Harbour Seal came right up to the shore having just caught a large salmon.  It seemed to play with it for quite a while, swimming around with it in its mouth, as can be seen in the first image.  Then, just a minute later, it started to rip the flesh off the fish and began to eat, as captured in the second photo.  The seal then quickly disappeared under the water and swam away.  We didn’t see it finish eating the fish – does it eat underwater, probably not.  It must have swum across somewhere else to conclude its meal in peace.

 

Unfortunately, the key moments were when it ventured in to the very shady areas next to the shore, meaning I had to bump the ISO up to around 3,200.  If only it had stayed in the late afternoon sunshine, I could have caught it all at ISO 100, instead of the 5 stops lower light level in the shade.  Otherwise, both pictures were taken on my D500 with the 200-500mm f/5.6 lens at 500mm, f/5.6 and 1/800s.  They are both a little bit grainy for my liking, even after some noise reduction processing in Lightroom – but that’s more acceptable for wildlife shots, than it ever would be for landscapes!

Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Cornwall, portfolio, image, wildlife, sea mammal, Egmont, Skookumchuck Narrows, Canada, sea, British Columbia, autumn, Harbour Seal, salmon, fish Harbour Seal 07, Skookumchuck Narrows, Canada 2023
Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Cornwall, portfolio, image, wildlife, sea mammal, Egmont, Skookumchuck Narrows, Canada, sea, British Columbia, autumn, Harbour Seal, salmon, fish Harbour Seal 09, Skookumchuck Narrows, Canada 2023

Jan 24 - Watery Wildlife at Skookumchuck Narrows, Egmont, Canada

Almost finished processing all my photos from our trip to Western Canada last October!  In to the final stretch now as we’ve finished crossing the Rockies and made our way down towards Vancouver Island.

 

Having not seen any bears in the mountains, it was good to see some watery wildlife around Egmont, which is just off the Salish Sea between Vancouver Island and the mainland.  We were at a beautifully remote spot overlooking the Skookumchuck Narrows, with other inlets and mountains as a fantastic backdrop.

 

This first shot was taken at dawn using my 16-35mm f/4 lens on a D810.  The sun was rising on the right, but was causing the clouds on the left to glow orange – all very atmospheric, especially with the low clouds after the cool night.  It was taken at 18mm, f/11, 0.4s and ISO 64.

 

Later that afternoon, as the sun was starting to set, we were down by the water’s edge looking for seals or sea lions.  Suddenly, a majestic Great Blue Heron flew by and stood not far from us, looking for food on the foreshore.  And, then a short while later we saw two Harbour Seals tussling over a large fish (a salmon, presumably) that they had both caught in their mouths!  The greyer one on the left had one end of the fish, while the blacker one on the right had the other end.  They circled each other for a while and then disappeared under the water – no idea who won!  It was only on processing it today though that I saw it was a fish that they were squabbling over.  These were both taken on my D500 with the 200-500mm f/5.6 lens at 500mm, f/5.6, 1/800s and ISO 100.  Not surprisingly, this lens does have its best optics when wide open and fully zoomed out, which is where people would actually use it most often.

 

I wasn't quite close enough for both the wildlife shots (nothwithstanding the "effective" 750mm zoom on my DX camera and lens combination) and so, I also cropped them to 3000 by 2,000 pixels, which is the smallest size that I can sell on Alamy.  This is still plenty large enough to print out at high-quality at around A3 size.

Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Cornwall, portfolio, image, landscape, Egmont, Skookumchuck Narrows, Canada, pine trees, mountains, British Columbia, sunrise, dawn, autumn, fall, long exposure Skookumchuck Narrows 03, Canada 2023
Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Cornwall, portfolio, image, wildlife, sea bird, Egmont, Skookumchuck Narrows, Canada, sea, British Columbia, autumn, Great Blue Heron Great Blue Heron 01, Skookumchuck Narrows, Canada 2023
Simon Bourne, photography, photographer, Cornwall, portfolio, image, wildlife, sea mammal, Egmont, Skookumchuck Narrows, Canada, sea, British Columbia, autumn, Harbour Seals, fish Harbour Seals 02, Skookumchuck Narrows, Canada 2023
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