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Exploring the Magic of the Atlantic Forest through Images: The Goodwill of Arboreal Inhabitants: Sloths

If there is a place that seems to have come straight out of the pages of a fairy tale, that space is the Atlantic Forest. This forest, located along the coast of the South American continent, is highly threatened by human occupation. Over the years, urban expansion has been encroaching upon once-green spaces. In the beginning of the year 2023, I had the privilege of immersing myself in this lush ecosystem and capturing the unparalleled beauty of wildlife through my camera lens. Since then, much has remained untold, but with the work I ended up postponing, so I want to start this year by sharing with you this incredible visual journey.



The Verdant Sound of the Forest: The First Steps

The first impact was overwhelming! Nothing prepared me for what I would feel, a mix of adrenaline and fear. Fear of entering unknown territories, of encountering species of which I know very little, some of them potentially deadly. Adrenaline because it was something I had longed to do for so long, and I was finally realizing this dream. All I could see around me was green. Fate had it that I arrived at night, where the view extended only as far as the illumination of the house allowed, about 2 meters. But the sounds on that first night were incredible; it was one of the nights that I found it hardest to fall asleep. Such was the desire to explore that world! It was not even 7 a.m. in Portugal, 3 a.m. in Brazil, and I was already peering through the windows, waiting for the sun to do its work. And it revealed what I had not yet seen. Everything was ready to explore. In the first few days, I encountered the marmosets, a very friendly family that visited us every day. I took advantage of this to photograph them as much as possible and try to document who was who. They had two little ones with them, who adorably kept their distance from me and preferred to steal pieces of bananas from their parents. The moments of interaction with them were fleeting but very gratifying.



The Water Hangs in the Air, the Mystery of the Cursed Rains

The Atlantic Forest is witness to the intriguing phenomenon of "cursed rains." Water hangs in the air, suspended on the leaves, creating a microclimate that sustains the exuberance of the flora and leaves everything green. Beneath the light filtered through the treetops, I sought to capture the ephemeral magic of these floating droplets. The humidity in this forest is extremely high. While I was mentally prepared for this at first, on the ground, the logistics were different. In order to photograph all the animals I encountered and, of course, to walk on the always damp forest floor, I initially started using my hiking boots, but I quickly changed my plan and started wearing rubber boots all the time. I could walk in water and felt safer regarding ants and other unknown animals. This could be a challenge in such a humid environment. And on top of that, always wear pants. Pants allow me not to stress as much about mosquitoes, but also about the leaves that sometimes lightly touched my legs, resembling potentially dangerous insects. On top of that, a long-sleeved shirt. The idea was to be able to photograph safely; I always carried a waterproof jacket in my backpack. Because the rain stubbornly appeared at the worst times. Rain was a sign that the night would be good, as one of the groups that like to come out in the rain are amphibians. And I found a lot of them, although some of the sounds remained unidentified. Not for lack of trying, but if entering the forest during the day was dangerous, at night, the situation was even more serious.




First Impressions Within the Green Interior

Entering the dense and verdant Atlantic Forest, a universe of sounds awakened before me. The chirping of birds intertwined with the whisper of leaves in the wind, forming a unique symphony. Each step became a silent dance with nature, and the camera ready to capture the first glimpses of this verdant spectacle. Among the branches, a silent animal roamed the forest. Like a ghost in the night, it went unnoticed by less attentive eyes. Feeding on leaves and seeking rest in branch forks. Finding such an animal proved to be a challenge, and with each step, the challenge grew. It was my biggest goal. The one that would take weeks to achieve. Finding a sloth in this huge and densely populated green space. But the challenge that was supposed to be great was achieved on the second day. During one of the walks I took to explore this magnificent space, as I stopped to explore a more open area, there it was, at the top of a tree, on the other side of the valley, feeding calmly. I remained there, glimpsing such an animal through binoculars, until it slowly descended the tree branches and disappeared into the forest, vanishing like a ghost that was never there. Those thirty minutes were enough to fill my heart. I may have found my first sloth, but if I become lazy, I won't be able to get the photos I want. When I got home, I hurried to see the photos, which taken from afar revealed an even bigger secret, it was a female with a baby. The birds were one of the highlights of the first few days, although always far from the lens, farther than I intended. But initially, it is also necessary to learn more about their habits, their diet, and the species I could photograph.



The Goodwill of the Arboreal Inhabitants: Sloths

Dawn was an awakening for me and for the animals that lived there. The equipment pre-prepared and equipped properly, I went out in search of animals. Mostly new to me. Upon entering the Atlantic Forest, I was greeted by the lazy residents who inhabit the treetops. The sloths, true circus acrobats, hung peacefully on the branches, seemingly unaffected by my presence. Each click of the camera captured their quiet grace and the undeniable connection they have with this magical forest. Among the leaves and branches, the sloths revealed themselves as masters of contemplation. Their slowness contrasted with the effervescence of the forest, and their curious looks were invitations to introspection. Challenging the hurry of the world, I sought to encapsulate the tranquility of these beings who, hanging in the trees, embody the calm and harmony I found in the Atlantic Forest.



At the end of the photographic journey, the Atlantic Forest revealed itself not only as a place of stunning beauty but as a treasure trove of stories and intricate ecosystems. Each chapter of this photographic exploration was an invitation to dive into the complexities and wonders of this forest, capturing ephemeral moments that will echo in visual eternity. May these images inspire the preservation of this natural jewel and encourage others to explore and protect the unique diversity of the Atlantic Forest.



WANT TO LEARN HOW TO SET UP YOUR CAMERA?


As soon as we buy a new camera, most of us are so excited that we want to start using it right away and enhancing our creative process... but this process can also be frustrating. Knowing and learning all the menu, features, and functions is challenging, especially if we are switching from another system or a completely different brand. This guide is for those like me who switched systems and want to accelerate the learning process about the new camera.




CHECK OUT MY YOUTUBE VIDEOS AS WELL

I've created several videos about wildlife photography where I explain how to photograph various species and some of the best photographic techniques. From photographing coastal birds to photographing the beautiful kingfisher, it's a small playlist that I hope you enjoy and leave a like on the videos.



TOURS, WORKSHOPS, AND MUCH MORE!


Check out our trips! As a teacher, I really enjoy giving photography courses, so I've created various workshops in the field and prepared several online courses to help you wherever you are. These tutorials are aimed at everyone and are an added value for those who are starting out.



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