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Archive for May, 2011

We have gone from cool, wet weather to some rather warm weather with temperatures hovering around 34 degrees Celsius. With the warm weather the Gray Treefrogs have now arrived to chorus in the ponds. I have been having a few busy evenings out in the ponds, shooting several hundred images a night, however, I usually edit these images down to a handful of ones I consider to be extra special. I was quite pleased to locate this fella on an old cattail stem singing his heart out. I positioned myself low, with the camera just above the surface of the pond and the camera pointed slightly upward so the night sky would give me the black background I wanted. I was a little too low though. As I was framing this composition water began to flood my chest waders. Sometimes you just have to grin and bear it and get the shot.

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Last year for whatever reason the toads that live around my home never arrived at the ponds to breed. It was sad not hearing the toads singing through the night. A void existed in the spring chorus. I am pleased to report that the toads have returned to the ponds this year and I have been busy capturing fresh images of them. With the cool wet weather we have been having the last few days there is little singing going on right now, but warmer weather is on the way in a day or two.

When shooting the frogs and toads in the shallow, vernal ponds behind my home, at night, I always wear my chest waders, an old sweater and use a headlamp as well as a small clip on flashlight. The chest waders keep me dry and relatively warm in the cold water. The old sweater also helps to keep me warm and often I am holding the camera right at the surface of the water, with my elbows deep in the water, so the sweater will keep the leeches and biting water bugs off me. The headlamp is used to search for the frogs and toads while the small clip-on flashlight goes on my home-made flash bracket and helps me focus on these critters.

Toads are my favorite amphibians to photograph. I love there expressions! Chorusing toads are probably the easiest to photograph as the vocal sac is inflated for several seconds at a time. These guys really do have one track minds at this time of year and are very tolerant of my presence in the pond. The last time I was out in the ponds, I lifted a toad in my hand and he sat there and began singing in the palm of my hand until he mistakenly thought my hand was a female toad. Yikes!

Here are a few images from my last couple of outings. Hope you like them.

In the images below, I came across several Green Frogs in the ponds.The one photographed below was busy feasting on Bloodsuckers (leeches)

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Spring Peeper with vocal sac inflated

We have been having some warm, rainy nights lately that are just perfect for increasing the numbers of frogs and toads that come to sing in the vernal ponds behind my home. Here are two quick images from my recent forays into the ponds. I will do a more lengthy post in the coming days with my image results and observations thus far.

American Toad with vocal sac inflated

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Variegated Caribbean Agave – Fractalius

Today I was experimenting with the Photoshop plugin Fractalius on images in my Plant Life collection. I also tried a few more with Nik’s Vignette Blur filter found in Color Efex. I really like the results of this Vignette Blur filter on the flower images for the soft, dreamy effect it creates. As more flowers to begin to bloom in my garden I will surely be trying more images with this effect as well as photos from a nearby greenhouse.

Hibiscus – Fractalius

Hyacinth – Vignette Blur

Croton – Fractalius

Tulip – Vignette Blur

Cactus – Fractalius

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Crocus close-up

Now that some warmer weather has finally arrived the spring flowers have begun to bloom quite rapidly. It is always a joy to see the crocuses blossom even thought they are short lived. One of my favorite woodland flowers that blooms in  the early spring is Sharp-lobed Hepatica. The small clusters of blossoms adorn the leaf litter on the forest floor like no other wildflower I know. When I processed the two images in the post I decided to play around a little with Nik Software’s Color Efex filters. I used the “Vignette Blur” filter on both these images keeping what I feel are the essential parts of the blossoms sharp and letting the rest of the composition blur to a soft dreamy look.

Sharp-lobed Hepatica

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For those folks that follow my blog, you will remember me posting images of a rather odd-coloured Green Heron that I photographed in Cuba, on the island of Cayo Santa Maria, in the Jardines del rey archipelago in the Atlantic Ocean. The Jardines del rey is a UNSECO World Biosphere. As it turned out, through my hopes to identify this heron, I had photographed a melanistic or genetic variant of this species. Subsequently, I was invited by Dr. James Kushlan of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Heron Specialist Group to write a paper on my observations for their inaugural online issue “Journal of Heron Biology and Conservation.” It is now believed that this is the first record of such abbarent plumage in Green Herons. I would like to extend a big thank-you to Dr. Kushlan for this opportunity. It was a privilege to write the paper for an organization such as the IUCN. If you are interested in reading the article please click here.

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