Arenal Eco Adventure Photo Workshop

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Leaves & Lizards/ Villa Blanca

Monterrey, Alajuela

Costa Rica

Event description


Olympus USA presents the third annual Arenal Eco Adventure Photography Workshop.

The Arenal Eco Adventure is a photography workshop disguised as an amazing Costa Rica vacation. It is a great introduction to Costa Rica for the beginning photographer and the experienced professional alike. Spend six days learning about the people, culture and wildlife of Costa Rica while you pursue your passion for photography. Even if you’ve never attended a workshop before, the small group size insures that you will get plenty of one-on-one time with our two experienced instructors. Don't have a camera? No problem! Try the new Olympus OM-D E-M5 16MP Live MOS Interchangeable Lens Camera all week for free, courtesy of Olympus USA. There is plenty for your significant other to do whether he or she is a photographer or not. Your guest will ride along with the group and enjoy all of the same excursions you do. You can share a great vacation and improve your photography at the same time.

Costa Rica Cowboy

Tuition is $1750 for double occupancy, and $2250 for single.

Your tuition includes:

  • Six nights lodging in beautiful private cabins.
  • Airport transfers*
  • Welcome dinner Sunday Night
  • All meals Monday through Friday
  • Trip to a volcanic hot spring
  • All Excursions, transportation and park entry fees
  • FREE USE of an Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera and lens kit, courtesy of Olympus USA
  • Daily Photography lectures, digital processing instruction and organized photo shoots
  • Experienced local guides
  • 1 year SmugMug Pro Account (a $150 value)
  • A 9"x12" canvas print of your favorite photo, courtesy of Artistic Photo Canvas (a $66 value)

* We provide bus transportation from the airport in San Jose to Leaves & Lizards on Sunday, Sept. 9. Most flights from the US arrive around noon, and the bus leaves by 2:00. Some guests prefer to fly into San Jose on Saturday and spend the night in case of any travel delays.

Costa Rica Hummingbird

In addition to photography instructors Rob Knight and Bob Fitzgibbons, local guide Enrique Molena is on staff to act as our naturalist guide and liaison with the community in Monterrey and La Fortuna. Enrique was born and raised in Monterrey, and he has been a professional guide in this area for fifteen years. His knowledge of Costa Rica’s flora and fauna will amaze you!

The Leaves & Lizards Volcano Cabin Retreat will serve as your home base for the first leg of this unique photography adventure. Leaves & Lizards’ commitment to the community and the environment made them the obvious choice to host this event. Their cabins have a comfortable, rustic feel, while offering modern conveniences like Wi-Fi internet access. Each one is specifically designed to offer you the best possible views of the Arenal Volcano. Your meals at the Lava Lizard restaurant feature all locally produced ingredients , including dairy products from their own cow. Kitchen scraps go to feed the chickens and pigs which in turn produce eggs and meat for us to eat; a perfect circle of sustainability.

The adventure then shifts south through the central valley to the beautiful Villa Blanca Cloud Forest Resort. You will enjoy a private cabin in the cloud forest with all of the modern amenities close at hand. Besides the natural beauty at Villa Blanca there is a beautiful chapel on the grounds, as well as examples of typical Costa Rican (or Tico) crafts. You will experience the wildlife of the cloud forest through the eyes of our naturalist guide, and get a private tour of the INbio research facility at Villa Blanca.

Costa Rican girls

What to Bring:

We have participants at every level of experience and with everything from entry-level cameras to professional gear. If you don't have your own camera gear you can use the brand new Olympus OM-D E-M5 camera and a 12-50mm lens. If you have your own equipment, here is the gear we recommend to make the most of the workshop:

  • DSLR camera and lenses.

    Camera brand doesn’t matter. Please bring your camera manual. A versatile mid-range zoom lens (18-55mm, 24-105mm, etc) is fine. You will also want a longer telephoto lens (something 200mm and higher if you have it) for shooting wildlife on the trip.

  • Memory cards. We recommend 8GB of storage or more.
  • Tripod. We are happy to make tripod suggestions if you like.
  • Hot-shoe flash
  • Lens cleaning cloth or lens pen

  • Laptop computer with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom (30-day free trial available at Other recommended software:
  • Photoshop CS4/5
  • Photomatix Pro (use the discount code “robknight15” at for a discount on Photomatix pro)
  • NIK Color Efex Pro, Silver Efex Pro and HDR Efex Pro (
  • Topaz Adjust (
  • *free trials are available for all of the above software
  • An open mind and a sense of humor!

  • Itinerary:


    • 2:00- Pickup at SJO airport
    • 5:00- Your adventure begins Sunday evening at the Lava Lizard Restaurant at Leaves & Lizards. Get to know the instructors and the other participants as the sun sets behind the Arenal Volcano. Rob and Bob will give a brief slideshow and outline the photography opportunities and objectives for the week. Enrique will give you up-to-the-minute info about the animals at Leaves & Lizards. After a delicious dinner at the Lava Lizard, the instructors will be available to help you with your equipment or answer questions about the schedule. The Olympus OM-D E-M5 kits will also be distributed Sunday night.


    • Start your first full day with a sunrise shoot at Leaves & Lizards, or sleep in and meet for breakfast at 7:00am. You’ll learn tips and techniques for great wildlife photos before heading to the Cano Negro Wildlife Refuge for a Jungle River Safari boat tour.. You'll be able to photograph birds, monkeys and much more during this all-day adventure (lunch included). Specific topics include long lens techniques and flash for wildlife photography. Bob will help you make the most of the excellent auto focus in the Olympus E-M5. You can shoot the sunset over the Arenal Volcano before Rob’s Lightroom workflow class, then it’s dinner at the Lava Lizard.


    • Enrique will be your guide when you visit a working Tico farm. Specific topics include daylight fill-in flash and off camera flash using the built in Speedlight control in the Olympus E-M5. You’ll find out what daily life is life on the farm, while Bob and Rob will help you tell the story through your photos. Find out more about the Tico farm tour HERE (lunch is included). We'll spend the afternoon exploring the jungle canopy at the Arenal Hanging Bridges. This amazing facility offers lost of opportunities for wildlife and landscape shooting. You can learn more about the Hanging Bridges HERE. There will be a review and critique session before dinner at the Lava Lizard. There will be an optional trip (including dinner) to one of Arenal's volcanic hot springs
    • .
    • Arenal hanging bridges costa rica photo workshop


    • Wednesday morning you will learn and practice techniques for panning with moving subjects. We will be treated to a show by the impressive horses and riders of Leaves & Lizards. We will spend the rest of the morning at Ecocentro Danaus. This beautiful nature preserve and butterfly garden will provide opportunities for shooting wildlife and plants up close and personal. You will have the chance to try the Macro setting on the 12-50mm Olympus lens on the E-M5. After lunch you will learn the finer points of shooting High Dynamic Range (or HDR) images, and how to utilize your camera’s auto bracketing function. The evening session at the Lava Lizard will focus on HDR processing and finishing using Photomatix Pro and Lightroom.
    • Costa Rica Horse and rider Photo Workshop


    • We will have breakfast at Leaves&Lizards before heading south to San Ramon. On the way we will visit the La Paz Waterfall gardens. The photographic opportunities range from volcanic activity to jungle cats and snakes! Lunch is included at La Paz. Thursday afternoon the instructors will set up speedlights so you can capture the several species of hummingbirds at Villa Blanca. We will have a classroom session before dinner and a critique session after. There will be an optional night hike through the cloud forest at an additional cost.


    • Friday we will be treated to a private tour of the INbio-Villa Blanca research station, and tour their sustainability projects. We will explore the beautiful chapel (a great place to shoot HDR images) and enjoy a tour of the grounds at Villa Blanca . We will have a final classroom session in the afternoon, and a slideshow of your wonderful images after dinner in Villa Blanca's movie theater.
    • costa rica chapel mariana photo workshop


    • Transportation will be provided to SJO airport

    The Arenal Eco Adventure workshop is suitable for photographers of all skill levels. The small class size insures that beginners can get the time they need with an instructor, and experienced photographers will have unique shooting opportunities and the chance to fine-tune their work. A DSLR camera is required (unless you are using one of our Olympus E-M5's), as well as a laptop computer with Adobe Photoshop Lightroom. Other recommended software includes Adobe Photoshop, Photomatix Pro, Nik Silver Effects Pro and Nik Color Effects Pro. Past students have done well in our workshops with Apple Aperture as well, but please note that the workflow demos will be performed using Lightroom.

    The workshop price does not include airfare to Costa Rica. It is quick and easy (and cheap!) to get to the Arenal/ La Fortuna airport from San Jose or Liberia via regional airlines such as Nature Air or Sansa. We can arrange transportation to Leaves and Lizards from the airport in La Fortuna.

    If you would like to rent a car, it is a beautiful, 3.5 hour drive to La Fortuna from San Jose, and about 4 hours from Liberia. There will be a presentation Sunday night, so please plan to arrive Sunday afternoon. Students will check in Sunday, September 12 and check out Saturday, September 18.

    We strongly recommend you purchase comprehensive travel insurance in case of emergencies.

Date and Time


Leaves & Lizards/ Villa Blanca

Monterrey, Alajuela

Costa Rica

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