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Tropical Rainforests At Night

Wildlife Photographic Magazine

A cover image and article about photographing nocturnal wildlife in tropical rainforests at night featuring my macro photography. Supplementary materials including creative and technical guidance.

When the sun goes down over the tropical rainforest a dusk chorus ushers in the night watch. The ancient forests of Asia have an astounding diversity of nocturnal wildlife. They offer a chance to get up close with some of the most extraordinary creatures on earth.

Common Tree Frog, Thailand by Tim Plowden
Painted Bronzeback Tree Snake, Singapore by Tim Plowden
Lappet moth caterpillar adopts a defensive posture while displaying its red and yellow warning colours, Borneo.

Entering a rainforest at night is pregnant with possibilities. The air is cooler, denser with the scent of the forest, the sense of stillness is soothing. Shining a torch into the undergrowth returns eye-shine. Careful scanning of tree trunks reveals cryptic camouflage. Calls and sounds give away locations.  Getting close to nocturnal wildlife can be easy. Nonetheless their welfare is always the priority. Insects, reptiles and amphibians all have their own ways of expressing themselves. It pays to understand their body language when photographing them. Not least of all the threat display of a venomous viper!

Caterpillar of Arctiinae, Borneo by Tim Plowden
Huntsman Spider, Singapore by Tim Plowden

Lighting is the most important technical consideration for nighttime macro photography. My quest for optimal lighting led me to build my own flash modifier. When it comes to perspective it pays to be comfortable using a range of angles depending on what you want to achieve with the shot. Where possible I will explore an abstract composition. I always try to create something as unique and striking as the subjects that I find in the forests of Southeast Asia.

Great Anglehead Lizard, Malaysia by Tim Plowden
Malayan Vine Snake, Singapore by Tim Plowden

The tropical rainforests of Southeast Asia are some of the oldest and most biodiverse on the planet. Even Singapore boasts an impressive array of wildlife. 108 species of reptiles, 30 species of amphibian and a diversity of invertebrates. No wonder evolutionary theorist Alfred Russell Wallace was busy while he was here.

Wildlife Photographic Magazine Issue 15, January/February 2016

Article Details

Publication Title: Wildlife Photographic Magazine

Edition: Issue 15, January/February 2016

Format: Writing, Photography

Theme: Wildlife Photography

Locations: Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam

Species: Invertebrates, Herpetofauna

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