We had lots of new additions for 2012. I think the biggest news was Showcase Photo&Video providing us with Olympus OM-D E-M5 cameras for the attendees to use. I’ve been using the E-M5 since it came out and it was fun to show the group just how good these little cameras are. This also opened up the trip to aspiring photographers that don’t already have equipment. Half of the group brought their own DSLR kit, and the other half came because they could use the E-M5. Some of the attendees rented lenses and Olympus flash gear with our workshop discount from LensRentals.com. Between that and the instructors’ gear there was a wide range of micro 4/3 lenses for the attendees to try. The Panasonic Lumix 100-300mm and Panasonic 45-200mm lenses were especially popular for shooting wildlife, and the Olympus 12-50mm and Olympus 40-150mm lenses were passed around quite a bit as well. By mid-week everyone was using the E-M5’s almost exclusively. The great image quality along with the small size and weather-sealed body made the E-M5 the perfect camera for our Costa Rica adventure.
Bob Fitzgibbons from Showcase Photo&Video was my guest instructor this year. Bob’s enthusiasm and technical knowledge were very popular with the attendees. His presentations were a hit and I was glad to have him on the staff. Bob and I are already making plans for next year’s event. I think if another instructor wanted to come along they would have to fight Bob for the opportunity! I’m pleased to report that Olympus has pledged their support for 2013 as well.
I can’t say enough about the venues we use for the Arenal Eco Adventure. Te Leaves & Lizards Volcano Cabin Retreat has been our host for three years now. Deb, Steve and the rest of the staff go out of their way to accommodate our group. The cabins are beautiful and well-maintained with incredible views of the Arenal Volcano The Lava Lizard restaurant rounds out the facility with delicious food and a great place to give classroom instruction.
We finished the week at Villa Blanca in the Cloud Forest above San Ramon. We were treated to beautiful cabins and wonderful service at Villa Blanca. We had delicious meals at their El Sendero restaurant, and even had a 4-course wine dinner on our last night! We used the comfortable meeting space at Villa Blanca for live critiques and image processing before enjoying a slideshow of student images Friday night.
I was excited when Kathy and Dianne Veitch registered for the trip this year. Kathy and Dianne came with us last year, and their enthusiasm is contagious. It is obvious that they have both been working on their photography since I last saw them. The pair made some of my favorite images from the this year’s event.This was the first photography workshop for Jody DeWeese. Jody has not been shooting long, but she’s been taking classes, studying and shooting as much as possible. Jody made more images than anyone on the trip and got some great shots. She brought her own gear, but she was an Olympus convert by the end of the week. Her Canon T3i ran into some trouble with condensation and moisture, but the weather-sealed E-M5 kept on ticking.
Jacob Borer and Ann Widmer brought their children Amelia and Holden on their adventure. Jacob and Ann have a nice point&shoot camera, but they came along to shoot the E-M5. They each have a great eye for composition and were able to get some great shots with the E-M5. The kids were a lot of fun and Amelia in particular was an excellent model. Ann’s sister Nicole came along as well. She got some great shots and especially enjoyed the numerous macro opportunities in the forest.
Completing the family theme was my mother-in-law Carrie Borer. If I had to guess I’d say that Carrie mostly came along to hang out with her grandson, but she participated in all of the photography exercises and made some really nice images.
The event page is already updated for next year. The fourth annual Arenal Eco Adventure will be September 8-14, 2013. We will have Olympus cameras to loan again, so join us even if you don’t have a bag full of gear! Please CLICK HERE to register. ¡Pura Vida!