Photographing Poas Volcano and Surrounding Area

How to take great photos during your trip to Poas Volcano

Poas Volcano is at a stunning 2600 meters or 8700 feet above sea level (our farm is 100 meters or 300 feet) The rim is almost a mile wide. As you can see from our images the weather and scene can vary greatly hour by hour. All of the images were taken in the same area on the same day. The atmosphere in the morning is very different than in the afternoon. 

In order to photograph a cloud free crater of Poas Volcano you will need to arrive early. Arriving before 10 am in January – April is recommended.

A polarizing filter should be used to reduce glare and to cut down on the haze of the scene. You can use the low, dense foliage in the foreground to help balance out your composition as shown below. 

Volcano crater steam

Steam from the Crater

Volcano Costa Rica

Poas Crater as Foreground

Cloud Forest Volcano

Wider View of Volcano

What appears to be smoke is actually steam as you are looking at a geyser. A 12-24mm lens was used and most of the images were shot at 15mm.

A 30 second exposure through an infrared filter was used on this next shot. Barry wanted to try and show the motion of the geyser and get something a little different. Almost all shots of Poas Volcano are from similar angles due to the fact that visitors must stay in designated areas. The infrared filter let him shoot from the same vantage point as everyone else but capture something very different.

Volcano Infrared Steam

Poas Infrared

Botos Lake

There is a short trail that takes you to another crater that is no longer active. It too has filled with rain water but this water is non-acidic like the active crater lake and is a beautiful blue color. The rough cloud forest foliage is a great contrast to the silky smoothness of the water.

Botos Lake clear

Botos Crater Lake


The Surrounding Area 

The Poas National Park is basically the craters, a nice visitors center and a couple of trails. Not exactly a place that you could photograph extensively. There are plenty of hummingbirds but nowhere to set up you gear outside of the trail system.

However, the surrounding area becomes a silhouetted dreamscape due to the fog that rolls in during the afternoon. The town of Vera Blanca is filled with dairy farms with natural wooden posts and beautiful jersey cows. Every shape is enhanced when enveloped in the fog.

Mossy Foggy sign

Foggy Wooden Sign Post

When shooting in foggy conditions Barry likes to under expose the shot to add a bit of moodiness. This moss-covered, wooden shout out to God sign was a great subject.
foggy afternoon tree

The Waterfall

El Templo waterfall has an impressive 85 foot drop. There is plenty of space for pulling over and admiring along the side of the road (normally unheard of in Costa Rica). * A buyers tip – There are tourist gift shops all along the route up to the volcano but they are expensive. There is a guy who has a make shift stand right across from the base of this waterfall that has incredible wooden carvings, paintings and the best prices I found.

Waterfall Costa Rica

Templo Waterfall near La Paz

Barry likes this image in HDR because it brings out a lot of the details in the foliage and rocks. It looks like the Elves of Rivendale will show up at any time.

Using a polarizer helps to achieve a longer exposure because it darkens the scene. A longer exposure helps to give the water a fluidity that you will not get with a short exposure. Two second exposure time for these shots.

Templo Waterfall

It was a very long and a very good day for us. I’m not sure that we will take the trek back anytime soon but it is because Costa Rica has so many other things to see.

We did have the best hamburger ever at the Quieres restaurant just outside of the park. There is an incredible view of all of San Jose and Alajuela from the dining room. Note – They put the burger under the kids section so don’t be fooled. It was huge and came with fries for $8.

We stopped at a roadside store to get some the strawberries that grow so well in that volcanic soil and the guy was asking me (the driver) if I wanted to taste the sparkling or regular wine before my seat belt was even off. You gotta love this country. The strawberries we brought home were so sweet. I added one to my glass of white wine and kicked back.

If you are interested in our trip to Arenal Volcano see this post – Arenal National Park and the Observatory Lodge 

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