Being born and living in a country where most of its surface is covered with forests of all kinds, e.g. cloud forests, rain forests, Andean wet forests I have been practicing and developing my tree-climbing techniques in order to get the pictures of the higher zone of these ecosystems. I have to admit that for me (and I guess for any other photographer that has shot in the canopy) it would be most comfortable and easy to just travel by foot searching for wide vistas or stalking wildlife with tripod and camera on my shoulder like one is likely to do in Alaska or, even cozier yet, travelling on a Land Rover over the savanna of Africa but the truth is that getting the images that I want in the country that I live and in the less explored habitats of the world requires overcoming any fear of heights and leaving the very human comfort zone of the ground.To get more information try out here:joshua tree rock climbing.
In the Amazon rainforest alone it is believed that between 70-90% of its biodiversity live, travel and coexist in the mid to top levels of the forest. Not only that but going up a tree can give you a pleasant breath of air from the humid forest below, you can even shoot with sunrise and sunset light, a big photographic plus in an ecosystem where several feet below darkness would probably has settled long ago.
I’ll talk first about the tree-climbing equipment:
The idea of tree-climbing is that you pass a climbing rope over one or several tree branches of the tree you intend to climb. One end of the rope is tied securely to another tree and the the other end is the one you climb. I use ½ inch. braided rope. I like to have several of these ropes so I can work at different trees in the same area I’m taking pictures at. I have ropes from 90 ft. to 250 ft. which cover basically all the different heights I would like to work at. Here one has to take into account that one needs a rope at least 2 ½ times the length of the intended height since the rope doubles over the tree limb and the angle and knots take away some rope. Having different tree stations allows me to adapt my shooting to the conditions of the place. Many animals have roosting sites where they arrive predictably every afternoon for example so one of my stations surely will be adjacent in order to work in the afternoon and some other station might be better placed to take advantage of morning light.
To support the body I use a standard Petzl harness althought I’m seriously considering getting a seat harness a much more comfortable one in the cases I have to take pictures hanging from the rope.
Climbing a rope requires a mechanical device called the ascender. The harness attaches to the ascender which slides up the rope but when your weight is pulled down it grabs the rope with small teeth that penetrate it. So you need two ascenders: one goes attached to the harness and the other one, fitted with a piece of tubular webbing, allows you to stand up on it and slide the upper ascender up the rope. I use Petzl ascenders.