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Tropical Treasures

By Maan D’Asis Pamaran

Armed with his Minolta camera with a motor drive and a zoom lens, Reynaldo “Rey” S. Sta. Ana first delved into the fast and furious world of motor sports photography in the mid-‘80s. In the next decade, the depths beckoned to the lensman and he was soon taking underwater photos, traveling to remote uncharted dive sites in the country.

“This started my keen interest in nature photography, which later on led me to join a bird-watching club in 2004. Not long after, I started a Wild Bird Photography group with other club members who were also involved in other genres at the time,” shares Rey.

  • THE RARE WHISKERED PITTA (Rey Sta. Ana)

    THE RARE WHISKERED PITTA (Rey Sta. Ana)

  • THE RARE LUZON BLEEDING HEART PIGEON (Rey Sta. Ana)

    THE RARE LUZON BLEEDING HEART PIGEON (Rey Sta. Ana)

  • SPOT-THROATED FLAMEBACK WOODPECKER (Rey Sta. Ana)

    SPOT-THROATED FLAMEBACK WOODPECKER (Rey Sta. Ana)

  • SOFTER SIDE PHILIPPINE EAGLE (Rey Sta. Ana)

    SOFTER SIDE PHILIPPINE EAGLE (Rey Sta. Ana)

  • PHIL. EAGLE HEAD SHOT-DIGITAL COMPOSITE (Rey Sta. Ana)

    PHIL. EAGLE HEAD SHOT-DIGITAL COMPOSITE (Rey Sta. Ana)

  • Palawan Flowerpecker-Male (Rey Sta. Ana)

    Palawan Flowerpecker-Male (Rey Sta. Ana)

  • PALAWAN FLOWERPECKER IN TERRITORIAL DISPUTE (Rey Sta. Ana)

    PALAWAN FLOWERPECKER IN TERRITORIAL DISPUTE (Rey Sta. Ana)

  • NESTING PHILIPPINE EAGLE, MT. APO (Rey Sta. Ana)

    NESTING PHILIPPINE EAGLE, MT. APO (Rey Sta. Ana)

  • Maroon Naped Sunbird (Rey Sta. Ana)

    Maroon Naped Sunbird (Rey Sta. Ana)

  • MALE LUZON HORNBILL (Rey Sta. Ana)

    MALE LUZON HORNBILL (Rey Sta. Ana)

  • MALE AND FEMALE PALAWAN FLOWERPECKER (Rey Sta. Ana)

    MALE AND FEMALE PALAWAN FLOWERPECKER (Rey Sta. Ana)

  • MAGNIFICENT SUNBIRD (Rey Sta. Ana)

    MAGNIFICENT SUNBIRD (Rey Sta. Ana)

  • HARING IBON, PHILIPPINE EAGLE IN FLIGHT-MT. APO (Rey Sta. Ana)

    HARING IBON, PHILIPPINE EAGLE IN FLIGHT-MT. APO (Rey Sta. Ana)

  • FLAMING SUNBIRD-CLOSEUP (Rey Sta. Ana)

    FLAMING SUNBIRD-CLOSEUP (Rey Sta. Ana)

  • EXTREME CLOSEUP of RUFOUS HORNBILL (Rey Sta. Ana)

    EXTREME CLOSEUP of RUFOUS HORNBILL (Rey Sta. Ana)

  • CATTLE EGRET-WINGS OF ANGELS (Rey Sta. Ana)

    CATTLE EGRET-WINGS OF ANGELS (Rey Sta. Ana)

  • COMMON KINGFISHER (Rey Sta. Ana)

    COMMON KINGFISHER (Rey Sta. Ana)

  • BLUE-HEADED RACQUET TAIL (Rey Sta. Ana)

    BLUE-HEADED RACQUET TAIL (Rey Sta. Ana)

  • BLACK-HEADED GULLS-TERRITORIAL DISPUTE (Rey Sta. Ana)

    BLACK-HEADED GULLS-TERRITORIAL DISPUTE (Rey Sta. Ana)

    With the growing concern over the dwindling numbers of beautiful birds, Rey soon found his calling: conservation photography. “It gave me the opportunity to support a lot of government agencies and NGOs by providing images they needed, that were used mostly for publication for conservation campaigns for the Philippine Avian Wildlife. Most of our birds are already endangered. We currently have about 20 species that are critically endangered, the most important of which is our national bird, the Philippine Eagle.”

    As he hopes to spark more interest in the plight of the country’s endemic avian species, he has been doing Wild Bird Photography Tours as his line of business, creating attractive and excellent images for his work, while encouraging others to do the same as well. With this sense of duty on his mind, he makes sure to evoke emotions in his photos.

    “I always strive to create compelling and dynamic bird images, catching them in their natural behaviors and interesting uncommon poses. These are the types of wildlife images that give the strongest emotional impact, which is very important in conservation photography,” explains Rey.

    This line of photography needs patience for the perfect shot, and with that comes immeasurable rewards. “It has always been the dream of every Filipino wildlife photographer to photograph the Philippine Eagle, which only has an estimated 400 pairs left in the wild. I have waited eight long years before I got the opportunity to photograph the biggest and most beautiful raptor in the world. They can only be photographed close enough when they are nesting, but the sites are tightly guarded government secret because they are already critically endangered. I got my chance in 2014 in Mt. Apo and was also able to film the parent bird feeding its 10-day-old eaglet. Such an incredible experience I thought that I was just dreaming while filming this magnificent eagle in its natural habitat.

    His passion comes with recognition, too. “A couple of notable achievements come to my mind. The first one happened early on in 1998 when my best works were published in two books by the Department of Tourism called Birdwatching in the Philippines. I also got the cover photo of a supplemental book of post cards which was published together with the two books. That photo was also used as an advertisement on the whole side of a double decker bus in London when the Philippine delegation was there to promote birding in the Philippines. The second one was when I was chosen to become a Tamron Image Master for three years, promoting the Tamron 600mm Ultra Zoom lens which paved the way for the fast growth of the number of photographers that got involved in wild bird photography.”

    He is also the only Filipino wildlife photographer who has been featured in a National Geographic film, which showed him photographing a Whiskered Pitta in Mt. Banahaw for Nigel Marven’s Wildlife Presenter show in 2017.

    Having such wild subjects, he says that brings out many different moods and that is what he really likes in this genre. “The moods are actually created by the subjects which I can say are like actors in many different scenarios. Depending on the poses and actions that are happening, images can be very dynamic and exciting, tender and dramatic, and even comical, too! My ultimate goal is that I will be able to make a significant contribution in the conservation and protection of our vanishing avian treasures before it is too late.”

     



    Source: Manila Bulletin

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