Suffering for your art. It’s not something usually associated with ex-Top Gear host Richard Hammond. But to take the perfect wildlife photo in Richard Hammond's Jungle Quest, Hammond ventures into the mighty Amazon all the while battling stifling heat, suffocating humidity and torrential rain.
And that’s before he’s even deep into the jungle.
The Amazon isn’t like the great African plains where animal action is played out on a grand scale. This tropical forest is dense, wet, secretive and claustrophobic. You’ve got to work to find its inhabitants.
Among the species Richard manages to photograph: harpy eagles, white-fronted capuchins, wattled jacana (a bird), Brazilian wandering spiders, camel spiders, Tapyba ants and scorpions. Also captured on film are macaw, saki monkeys and turkey vultures.
So how did he do it?
Get over your phobias
Richard has a few crippling phobias that include giant spiders, swarming insects and an acute fear of heights - all of which are entertaining when he's hoisted high into the jungle canopy to shoot monkeys on their level.
Once the crippling fear is conquered, get right in the spider's face
But definitely limit the size of ancient man-eating predators
If you rescue an entangled three-toed sloth, that's an incredible photo op
Be sure to arm yourself with all the, ahem, top gear
Richard's weapon of choice is a Canon 5D. "I learnt a lot about anticipating focus, depth of field and exposure," he has said. "So that when a subject turns up you have the camera ready for it and can concentrate on framing."
Never leave until you take that Amazonian holy grail shot
It's Hammond's white whale. The animal he most wants to photograph: the rare pink river dolphin. This fascinating creature has evolved a special shape, special dorsal fin, enhanced sonar and flexibility to navigate swimming the murky waters finding food among submerged trees.
And always have someone like Eduardo by your side
Everyone needs a guide like local Amazon legend, Eduardo, who happened to have a great sense of humour. "He took the mick out of me massively," Hammond revealed. "He didn't stop."
Richard Hammond's Jungle Quest airs Mondays at 8:30pm (AEST) on SBS. After they air, episodes will be available on SBS On Demand.
Missed the first episode? Watch it right here: