Join an all-star cast of professional
photographers on an 8-day, 7-night tropical insect safari in Belize!
[Click for a
preview] ' [Click for BugShot/Belize 2013 participant photos]
Instructors: Alex Wild, Piotr Naskrecki, John Abbott, and Thomas Shahan
Venue: We are lucky to be hosted by Caves Branch
Lodge, one of Belize's oldest and best appointed jungle lodges.
Caves Branch Lodge sits on 50,000 acres along the "Hummingbird
Highway" and provides ready access to high quality tropical habitat,
including forests, rivers, caves, and a botanical garden that holds the
country's largest orchid collection. You will also enjoy the lodge's
comfortable accommodation and excellent food. We have included an open day in
the schedule if you wish to tour local Mayan ruins or partake in some of the
lodge's cave adventures. [Caves Branch on Google Maps]
Day 1. Attendees arrive at Caves Branch lodge from the Belize City
airport (1.5 hour drive) in time for a late afternoon social and dinner. In the
evening we introduce the workshop and blacklight for insects around the lodge.
Day 2. We cover the basics of macrophotography equipment and lighting
via hands-on practice in the botanical garden. In the afternoon, we hold an
introduction to studio photography. An after-dinner presentation will introduce
insect biology, after which we'll take a walk through the forest to spot
katydids, net-casting spiders, army ants, stick insects, and other nocturnal
Day 3. We divide into smaller groups for trips away from the lodge.
One group will visit Footprints cave to photograph amblypygids, cave crickets,
and predaceous fungus gnats. The cave also holds Mayan relics.
The second group will travel to Green Hills Butterfly Ranch to
hone photo technique amid swirling clouds of domesticated butterflies,
including longwings, glasswings, morphos, and swallowtails.
In evening, we reunite for a natural history talk by one of the instructors. As usual, the blacklight will be running to attract night-flying
Day 4. A morning visit to the Caves Branch River will supply us with
aquatic insects, including diving beetles and dragonfly nymphs, to practice
photographing in studio aquaria. After lunch we'll hear the instructors
introduce the natural history of their favorite arthropod groups, followed by
afternoon walks through the open habitats on Caves Branch's extended grounds.
In the evening, we'll have a natural history session followed by blacklighting.
Day 5. The group that traveled to the cave on Day 3 will now visit
the Butterfly ranch, and vice versa.
In the evening, back at the lodge, we'll have a presentation on
the science of rain forest ecology, followed by photo-sharing.
Day 6 is
unscheduled until dinner. During this free day you are welcome to sign up for
one of Caves Branch's many adventure tours, visit Mayan ruins, continue
shooting in the forest, or just lounge by the pool. The instructors will
be on hand all day to offer one-on-one sessions. We'll have photo-sharing and a
night walk after dinner.
Day 7. We remain on Caves Branch trails to practice our photographic
skills on fascinating subjects like orchid bees, dung beetles, and acacia-ants.
The day also includes sessions on how to find and collect insects and an open Q
& A discussion. We have a closing social event planned for the evening.
Day 8. After
breakfast and workshop closure we depart for the airport.
Throughout the event, indoor insect studios and aquaria will be
available for general use, and the blacklight/mercury vapor lamp will run every
2-person ($3295) and 4-person ($3185) cabins are the default accommodations
included with registration, but upgrades to extra-luxurious Tree Houses may
be possible at additional cost, pending availability. Contact Caves Branch ASAP
if you are interested in upgrading your accommodation- the lodge is a popular
destination and the cabins fill quickly. [lodging preview]
Required Equipment: At a minimum you will need a
camera and lenses capable of close-in photographs, as well as an off-camera
flash. We recommend an SLR camera with a 1:1 or greater macro lens.
Alternately, suitable magnification is possible with a set of extension tubes,
bellows, or a reverse-mounted lens kit. A good point-and-shoot camera with a Raynox
filter and an external flash mount is also suitable.
Price includes: All scheduled course activities,
lodging, meals, and transportation to/from the airport.
Price does not include: drinks/snacks from the bar, laundry
service, tours taken during the unscheduled day
If you wish to bring a non-participating friend or spouse, they
are welcome to stay at the lodge during the course pending availability.
Contact Caves Branch for arrangements.
Registration by mail: Offline
registrations are welcome! Contact Alex (alwild [at] myrmecos.net) ASAP to
reserve your place manually and arrange alternate payment.