Black-faced Solitaire singing. Photo by Eduardo Libby

Sunny in the Cloud Forest

In spite of its name, the Monteverde Cloud Forest in Costa Rica has some days of very sunny weather which create difficult light for photography. Naturally they happen every time I happen to visit…

Patchy sunlight inside a forest creates a very confusing pattern of bright spots and deep shadows. Older camera sensors and slides film just could not deal with this and only multiple shot techniques like HDR photography helped to get a useful image.

I was very happy to see a current sensor (Nikon Z7) doing quite well in these conditions, even though I did not use a polarizing filter to tame the reflections. Naturally, whenever possible, I waited for an occasional cloud to diffuse the sunlight or composed my photos around shady areas. A subject that worked fine in full sunlight was plant leaves lighted from behind by the sun, showing their structure and transparency.

Guzmania bromeliad. Photo by Eduardo Libby
Guzmania bromeliad in the Monteverde Cloud Forest, Costa Rica.


Old tree stump with tropical plants. Photo by Eduardo Libby
An old tree stump has become a garden pot for tropical plants.
Ferns. Photo by Eduardo Libby
The tight canopy of the rain forests only allows small patches of sunlight to reach the forest floor.


I did some bird photos: you never miss a chance to do wildlife even if you are doing landscape! Here is a Green Violet-ear hummingbird and the Black-faced Solitaire, that has the most haunting sound you can hear in the Cloud Forest… (link for the song)


Green Violet-ear Hummingbird. Photo by Eduardo Libby
Green Violet-ear Hummingbird


The leaves of a plant in the pepper family (Piperaceae). Photo by Eduardo Libby
The leaves of a plant in the pepper family (Piperaceae) with the midday sun overhead.


I tried to do HDR for the ferns picture but the masking of direct sun reflections is difficult. I like however the spotlight effect of the overhead Sun (it actually gets right overhead this time of the year in Costa Rica) and I will try to capture in the future. I have more photos of this trip in my Photoshelter website.


Black-faced Solitaire singing. Photo by Eduardo Libby
Black-faced Solitaire singing


2 thoughts on “Sunny in the Cloud Forest”

  1. A lovely post, Eduardo. The spotlighted fern may be my favorite photo here. Thank you for the link to your website, too. I was wondering if you’d seen a quetzal at Monteverde, and there was my answer—amid many other beautiful photographs. Monteverde was my favorite part of the trip I took to Costa Rica many (25?) years ago. Is the road up the mountain still treacherous?


    1. Thank you Linda! There are now several places where seeing Quetzals is almost sure. Monteverde remains one provided you are at the right time of the year. The awful road is about 60% paved now but the remaining 12 km are in the worst part.


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