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Archive for the ‘Horseshoe Lake’ Category

Sunrise on the Agawa River in Ontario's Lake Superior Provincial Park

Sunrise on the Agawa River in Ontario’s Lake Superior Provincial Park

This year I decided to come up with a ‘baker’s dozen’ of favorite photographs that I created over the past twelve months. It was difficult to narrow it down to just 13 images, but here they are. Please do click on the images to see the larger, sharper version.

This past year I re-visited my most favorite location within Ontario – Lake Superior Provincial Park, and was blessed with one of the most beautiful sunrises I have witnessed. In February I traveled to the Port Antonio region of Jamaica where I photographed one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the Caribbean and my favorite image of my daughter Ava while she was having fun in a swing at Boston Bay. I was invited to co-write the Fractasic eGuide with good friend, colleague, and mentor Denise Ippolito, and to do ‘The Three Frosties‘ guest blog post for one of the world’s premier bird photographers Arthur Morris.

A scouting trip for planning what will become the launch of my first workshop to the tip of Lake Erie’s Long Point Peninsula (a UNESCO World Biosphere) was a success. Folks wishing to be added to the interested list for this workshop, which will likely run in late spring, should shoot me an email here.

Also Gentec International, the Canadian distributor for Sigma lenses was kind enough to loan me the Sigma f2.8 15mm EX DG Fisheye Lens, which opened up a whole new world to me for creativity and fun times photographing the natural world.

I hope you enjoy these images as much as I did creating them.

May you all have a safe and prosperous 2014.

Cheers!

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!

Ava on swing at Boston Bay, Jamaica

Ava on swing at Boston Bay, Jamaica

Reich Falls on the Drivers River, Jamaica

Reich Falls on the Drivers River, Jamaica

Johnstone's Whistling Frog chorusing, Jamaica

Johnstone’s Whistling Frog chorusing, Jamaica

Lone tree after ice storm near Thornton, Ontario

Lone tree after ice storm near Thornton, Ontario

Storm clouds over winter wheat crop near Bradford, Ontario

Storm clouds over winter wheat crop Bradford, Ontario (Sigma 15mm Fisheye Lens)

Bullfrog-scape with the Sigma 15mm Fisheye Lens

Bullfrog-scape on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario (Sigma 15mm Fisheye Lens)

Rusty Old Wreck in fog, Milton, Ontario

Rusty Old Wreck in fog, Milton, Ontario

The tip of the Long Point Peninsula at sunrise, Lake Erie, Ontario

The tip of the Long Point Peninsula at sunrise, Lake Erie, Ontario

Bullfrog (Sigma 15mm Fisheye Lens)

Bullfrog (Sigma 15mm Fisheye Lens)

Aspen Trees Multiple Exposure inspired by Denise Ippolito

Aspen Trees Multiple Exposure inspired by Denise Ippolito

Window Frost Pattern

Window Frost Pattern

Fractalius of Woodland Interior, Killbear Provincial Park, Ontario

Fractalius of Woodland Interior, Killbear Provincial Park, Ontario

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Bullfrog_1116

Bullfrog in Wetland – Nikon D800 & Nikon 18-35mm

This past summer I created numerous frog-scape photographs using either the new AFS Nikkor 18-35mm f3.5-4.5G ED Lens or the Sigma f2.8 EX DG 15mm Fish-eye Lens. Nikon’s new 18-35mm lens allows a close focusing of 12 inches while the Sigma Fish-eye focuses down to 5.9 inches, which is almost a full 4 inches closer than that of Nikon’s 16mm fish-eye lens (being able to focus closer with the Sigma lens is a huge advantage). The main difference between using the fish-eye lens versus using the wide angle zoom for frog-scapes is that the fish-eye lens will distort the horizon line giving it a rounded appearance, while the wide angle zoom will keep the horizons straight. I like both perspective equally so I will often change lenses to create two variations, especially when the subjects are being co-operative.

As you scroll through my favorite frog-scapes created last summer at the family cottage on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario, do note the captions that indicate which lens was used to create each of the images.

Please click on each image to see the larger, sharper versions and please take a moment to let me know which ones are your favorites.

Bullfrog in Wetland - Nikon D800 & Sigma f2.8 EX DG 15mm Fish-eye Lens

Bullfrog in Wetland – Nikon D800 & Sigma 15mm Fish-eye

Bullfrog in Wetland - Nikon D800 & Nikon 18-35mm

Bullfrog in Wetland – Nikon D800 & Nikon 18-35mm

Bullfrog in Wetland - Nikon D800 & Sigma 15mm Fish-eye

Bullfrog in Wetland – Nikon D800 & Sigma 15mm Fish-eye

Bullfrog in Wetland - Nikon D800 & Sigma 15mm Fish-eye

Bullfrog in Wetland – Nikon D800 & Sigma 15mm Fish-eye

Bullfrog in Wetland - Nikon D800 & Sigma 15mm Fish-eye

Bullfrog in Wetland – Nikon D800 & Sigma 15mm Fish-eye

 

 

 

 

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Bullfrog_1431

Male Bullfrog on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens
Technical Specs:
ISO 6400
f22 @ 1/40 second
Live View
Hand-Held

The last couple of weeks have been rather hectic, after returning from the cottage on Horseshoe Lake in Ontario’s Parry Sound Region I was only home for a couple of days prior to heading back to the cottage. During my first of the two stays I spent several nights working with the Bullfrogs. By the time I had noticed this fella with his head lifted nicely out of the water it was already getting quite dark out, as can be seen by the late setting sun reflecting in the frog’s right eye. I could have easily given up and called it a night, but if you don’t push yourself or the limits of your gear you will not know what is achievable down the road. It is very important for photographers to get to know both their limits and those of their equipment.

To create the above portrait of this male American Bullfrog I positioned my canoe in front of him and then sat in the bottom of the canoe for increased stability. Then utilizing the Live View feature of my D800, a bubble-level in the hot-shoe and a Nikon 105mm Micro Lens I framed the image. To capture the low perspective the camera and lens were hand-held at the water’s surface. In fact, both the lens hood and quick release plate were getting wet. As night was quickly falling upon the frog and I an ISO of 6400 was dialed in, which gave me 1/40 seconds at f22. The small aperture was necessary to maximize the depth of field at this close range. The canoe was sitting relatively stable due to very shallow water conditions at this location within the marsh and prior to pressing the shutter I took a breath then I clicked the shutter while holding the breath. This technique will help keep your body relatively still for slower than desired exposures, producing a better percentage of keepers.

When viewing the above image on my computer after I arrived home, I was quite impressed with the low-level of noise present at such a high ISO. It is critical to maintain proper exposure by remembering to expose to the right (ETTR). If you have to brighten a poorly exposed frame you will surely introduce noise into the image. In Adobe Camera Raw (ACR) I did perform a tiny bit of noise reduction and later in Photoshop I removed several dust bunnies :) Otherwise this is how the image appeared on the LCD screen in the marsh.

After I created several frames of this fella he lunged forward and gobbled up a smaller frog that I had not noticed, in one quick motion. Bullfrogs are notorious for their canabalistic tendencies.

Please click on the image to see the larger, sharper version and the D800 quality at high ISOs.

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Bullfrog_8692

One of my main reasons for wanting to try the Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens, which was on loan from Gentec International, the Canadian distributor for Sigma lenses, was for photographing Bullfrogs in the wetland on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario. When my parents bought our family’s cottage over 30 years ago there were great numbers of Bullfrogs to be found and their signature jug-o-rum chorusing would echo through the night air. Today all but a few individuals can be heard singing at night and locating them can be a chore some days. Fortunately, there is one very reliable fella that always hangs out in the vicinity of a very tiny island, covered with sedges and shrubs, within the wetland. I have had the pleasure of photographing this individual for over and over. For exactly how long I am unsure, but I would guess at least three years. I can often place my hand underneath him and he will crawl aboard and allow me to pose him. Do note that amphibians should NEVER be handled if you have insect repellent or sunscreen on your hands – it is deadly to them.

Each of these frog-scapes were photographed handheld, selecting the Live View function on my Nikon D800, auto-focus and a double bubble level in the hot shoe to make sure the froggies were sitting square with the world in the photos. This is the easiest way I know of to capture such images from the dry comfort of a canoe. Often my hands are submerged in order to hold the camera just millimeters above the water’s surface. I found over-cast conditions to be more favorable as with the extreme wide angle view of this lens it was easy to accidentally see my shadow or that of the camera and lens within the frame under sunny conditions. Also if the camera and lens is held above and over the frogs it is easy to get the camera and lens reflecting in the water in front of the subject, but by hand-holding the rig just above the water this problem is eliminated. A slight downward pointed fisheye lens will create the rounded prespective that works beautifully to show the frog’s within their world. And since the world is round, this is a pleasing perspective :)

Below are some of my favorite frog-scapes photographed while using the Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye lens.

Please remember to click on the photos to see the larger, sharper versions and let us know which is your favorite and why.

Bullfrog_9252

Bullfrog_8817

Bullfrog_9267

Bullfrog_9277

Bullfrog_8684

Bullfrog_8806

Bullfrog_9255

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Winter Wheat_487Winter Wheat Field near Thornton, Ontario

As mentioned in my previous post I recently spent a week photographing with the Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens that was on loan to me from Gentec International, the Canadian distributor of Sigma Lenses. I had a ton of fun using this lens and the creative possibilities that it offered me were virtually endless. I enjoyed using the lens to capture bullfrogs, landscapes, water lilies, rusty old wrecks, and waterfalls too. In fact, I photographed roughly 1,500 images with this lens during the week in which I used it. The main subject I sought to photograph with the lens was the bullfrogs on Horseshoe Lake, in the Parry Sound region of Ontario. I will share many more of these with you in future posts.

The Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens is a diagonal fisheye lens in that the scene is shown full frame within the field of view. Circular fisheye lenses are shown as a circular image within the field of view. Fisheye lenses are noted for their extreme wide angles with significant visual distortion. Yes, distortion can be your friend when used creatively. When a fisheye lens is pointed downwards the field of view will have a convex appearance and when pointed upwards a concave look. This aspect of the fisheye lens creates unique perspectives and intriguing effects on a wide variety of subjects. I personally love the rounded look that can be achieved as it resembles our planet, which is round.

Bullfrog_8922Male Bullfrog on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

This lens was an outstanding performer for the bullfrogs that I sought as it has a close focusing distance of 5.9 inches. Nikon’s version will only focus down to a tad over 10 inches, while the Canon equivalent will focus to slightly more than 8 inches. That’s a huge variance when you are photographing smaller subjects.The lens was used on my Nikon D800 where I was able to play around with the sensor crop features of the camera to capture both full frame and 1.5 sensor crop images. The latter was useful for images such as the one above, while the former captured the bigger picture seen below.

Bullfrog_9257Male Bullfrog on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

And with the Fragrant White Water Lilies in full bloom I could not pass up the opportunity to capture such beautiful blossoms with the fisheye perspective.

White Water Lily_227Fragrant White Water Lily Blossom

One evening after supper I decided to give the lens a work out with some low light conditions over at Lower Rosseau Falls. I created numerous compositions at this location with the camera firmly mounted to my tripod to capture the flowing motion of the river. Due to the extreme wide angle it is often tricky to compose images with a downward pointed fisheye lens as the tripod’s legs will be poking into the frame however, with a little practice and patience you will get the hang of it. For the B&W image of Lower Rosseau Falls I could not compose the scene without one leg in the frame, so back home in photoshop I cloned out the leg, which was in the lower right area of the frame.

Rosseau River_8530Rosseau River in Ontario’s Muskoka Region

Rosseau River_8568-B&WRosseau River in Black & White

My next excursion with the Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens was on the shores of Georgian Bay in Ontario’s Killbear Provincial Park. The rugged shoreline here is note for its wind swept pines and beautiful pink granite. I really enjoyed the creative possibilities that the lens offered me here. The significant distortion qualities of the lens were used for artistic purposes which can be seen in the Killbear Provincial Park images below.

Killbear Provincial Park_9839Killbear Provincial Park, Ontario

Killbear Provincial Park_9720Killbear Provincial Park, Ontario

Towards the end of my photography trip, a family function led me to the Peterborough area of Ontario. I decided at the last minute to take along the fisheye lens one last time before returning it to Gentec International. I was glad I did as I was staying near Millennium Park and the design of the park lends itself well to the distortion qualities of fisheye lenses. Due to the over-cast, white sky conditions I chose to convert the image to black and white.

Millenium Park_Peterborough_Ontario_358-B&WPeterborough Ontario’s Millennium Park

The fisheye perspective is my new favorite way to create imagery. When the distortion qualities are used to accentuate curves in the landscape they can often have a very pleasing effect. The majority of the photos I captured using the lens were done so handheld. All of the bullfrog-scapes were done using the Live View function of the D800 with the camera held millimeters above the surface of the lake. To maximize my depth-of-field I tended to stay in the f11 – f16 range of the lens. Each and every frame I captured the auto-focus was accurate, any blurred images were a result of errors on my part or by pushing the hand-holding limits too far and shooting at shutter speed that were just too slow. If you don’t push these limits you will not know what you can accomplish in given situations. While reviewing the images on the computer at home I did notice some chromatic abberation in the extreme corners but for me this is no biggie as it can easily be corrected in photoshop.

I do not test or review lenses by photographing charts and such to examine their sharpness from corner to corner. I much prefer to take the gear into the field and see how it will perform with my style of shooting, with the subjects I love to photograph, and to genuinely find out will it get the shot I want. I can honestly say that I loved using the Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens and will certainly be adding it to my tool kit in the near future. It far exceeded my expectations and the lens literally spent the better part of my travels attached to the Nikon D800. I would highly recommend this lens to anyone wishing to explore the wonderful world of the fisheye and unleash their creativity.

Do remember to click on each of the images to see the larger, sharper versions and let us know which is your favorite and why.

Throughout my travels I did come across a new rusty old wreck, with bullet holes nonetheless, and another wreck near my home, which I decided to give a quasi-grunge look. See these images below.

Old Rusty Mercury_8604Rusty Mercury Truck with Bullet Holes

Rusty Old Chevy_420-alternateOld Cheverolet Truck with Quasi-Grunge Treatment

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Bullfrog in wetland_1503

Male Bullfrog in wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Ontario

Looking back over the past year I realized I probably photographed a little bit more wildlife than landscapes, which is some what different for me. Mostly I was photographing frogs and toads for various chapters in the frog book that I am currently writing. As a result it is easy to see why my top 12 images from 2012 contains a few frog photos :)

Here is a selection of a few of my favorite images created in 2012.

Tiny Marsh_9697

Tiny Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area, Ontario

Massassauga Rattlesnake_1773

Eastern Massassauga Rattlesnake, Killbear Provincial Park, Ontario

Rosseau River_734

Rosseau River at Lower Rosseau Falls, Ontario

Bullfrog_juvenile_1695

Over-under juvenile Bullfrog

Sandpiper_2172-1

Willet on Liebeck Lake, Ontario

Horseshoe Lake Sunset_2213

Horseshoe Lake wetland at sunset, Ontario

Common Loon (Gavia immer) with chick on Horseshoe Lake

Common Loon with chick on Horseshoe Lake, Ontario

Zimmerman's Poison Frog (Ranitomeya variabilis)_2921-1

Zimmerman’s Poison Frog

Beaver Pond_Algonquin_3429

Beaver Pond, Algonquin Provincial Park, Ontario

Horseshoe Lake_2459

View from the dock at sunset, Horseshoe Lake, Ontario

White-breasted Nuthatch_4543

White-breasted Nuthatch

The White-breasted Nuthatch image above represents the last photograph captured for 2012. It was visiting my suet feeder set-up frequently yesterday while I was out in the blind for another round of winter songbird photography.

Wishing everybody all the best in 2013.

Happy New Year!!!

Please remember to click on each of the photos to see the larger sharper version.

See ya soon!

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Horseshoe Lake at sunset

 

I have been busy catching up on my processing of images captured throughout the summer and thought I would share a collection of sunsets from Horseshoe Lake. The above image was created after an evening session of photographing Bullfrogs at dusk. While I was packing away my gear to begin canoeing back to the cottage I turned around to notice this impressive sunset and cloud formation in the sky. Since I was in the canoe and my tripod was back at the cottage I cranked up the ISO to 800, activated the Virtual Horizon feature on the Nikon D800 and fired away. With no grad filters on hand I exposed for the highlights and later in photoshop revealed a touch of detail from the shadows.

The two images below were photographed one after the other. Since the colours were somewhat lacking on this night I chose to use a Cokin Blue/Yellow Polarizer on the first image to add some colour to the scene. The final image portrays the natural colours as they were that night. Please do take a moment to indicate which of the two scenes is your favorite and why.

Remember to click on the photos to see the larger, sharper version of each.

Horseshoe Lake with Cokin Blue/Yellow Polarizer

Horseshoe Lake un-filtered

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Lower Rosseau Falls with the Sigma 8-16mm lens at 8mm

During my last trip up to the Parry Sound region Gentec International the distributor for Sigma lenses in Canada was kind enough to loan me a Sigma 8-16mm f4.5-5.6 DC HSM lens for a special project that I am working on at the moment. Since this lens is designed for use with DSLRs that have the APS-C sized sensors, I had originally planned to use this lens with my old Nikon D200, but I had also just received a call that my Nikon D800 had arrived and was waiting to be picked up. A new lens to play with and a camera body that I was unfamiliar with – Yikes! Fortunately, the Nikon D800 automatically crops/adjusts to lenses designed for use with APS-C sensors and with the ‘Live View’ feature and high ISO capabilities I knew this lens and camera combination would be perfect for the images I envisioned photographing with it. When the lens arrived I was immediately impressed with the build quality and the zoom and focus rings just felt right. The lens is an autofocus lens with manual over-ride just like all my Nikon lenses have. I  primarily wanted to use the lens for wetland related imagery and to take the lens over to a picturesque waterfall that was nearby. Due to the design of the front lens element filters cannot be attached to this lens, but that is no reason to pass up this little beauty. With a lens that provides such a wide angle of view you don’t really want to add a polarizer anyway, as you will certainly have lots of blotchy blues throughout the sky. There were a couple of instances where I would have liked to add a graduated neutral density filter into the mix but could not, however, these scenes are easily captured as HDR images nowadays, allowing you to over-come such situations. Knowing that filters cannot be attached you simply need to pick the time of day you photograph certain subjects a little more carefully, as a result I made my way over to Lower Rosseau Falls at dusk when the light would be low enough to allow for long exposures to blur river’s flow. It was a blustery evening though and you will notice much movement in the trees and leaves of the surrounding forest. I found this lens to extremely useful at Lower Rosseau Falls as some of vantage points are not possible unless you are using a wide lens such as this one. Below are two additional images from Lower Rosseau Falls.

Lower Rosseau Falls with the Sigma 8-16mm lens at 9mm

Lower Rosseau Falls with the Sigma 8-16mm lens at 8mm

The images below are some of the photos I envisioned capturing and they would not have been possible without the Sigma 8-16mm lens. Whenever I test out a potential new lens to include in my gear bag I consider them to be merely tools to do a job. I am seldom concerned with the high-tech stuff that you can read about on the internet. The Sigma 8-16mm lens turned out to be the perfect tool for me to capture the wetland imagery I had hoped too. Without the lens’ close focusing capabilities of 9.4 inches throughout the entire zoom range I would have been unable to create the bullfrog and water lily images you see. In fact, with the lens stopped down to about f16 the depth-of-field will allow you to focus a little closer than the 9.4″ minimum. The photographs below were all created, handheld, in ‘Live View’ mode while extending my arms out from the canoe to hold the camera and lens just above the surface of the water, often my left hand was partially submerged while doing this. To make sure that I was square with the world a bubble level was placed in the hot-shoe of the camera. By using the ‘Live View’ feature I was easily able to tell if I was too close for the lens to focus or not. If so I would simply back off a little until the frog or blossom came into focus. I had to make a few tries with the bullfrog before he began to tolerate the lens being only a few inches away. One thing that I noticed with using such a wide angle lens in close like this was the lens’ shadow on the surface of the water. This happened most often when trying to hold the lens just above the subject, but once the lens was positioned for a ‘frog’s eye view’ the shadow problem was eliminated.

Bullfrog with the Sigma 8-16mm lens at 14mm

Bullfrog with the Sigma 8-16mm lens at 8mm

Bullfrog with the Sigma 8-16mm lens at 16mm

Horseshoe Lake Wetland with the Sigma 8-16mm lens at 8mm

Bullfrog habitat with the Sigma 8-16mm lens at 8mm

Water Lilies with the Sigma 8-16mm lens at 16mm

Water Lily on Horseshoe Lake with the Sigma 8-16mm lens at 8mm

In short, this is a fun lens that delivers superb quality and sharpness throughout the zoom range. You may notice in the Water Lily image above and in the second Bullfrog image that there is a touch of out of focus in the foreground, those are simply areas that are too close for the lens to focus on, but I do think the images are still successful images. During my week long visit to the Parry Sound region this lens spent much of the time affixed to my D800. I loved it and the images I created with it were fun to shoot too. I can’t wait to add this lens to my everyday gear bag. Photography is about having fun creating photographs and this lens certainly delivers tons of fun. I highly recommend this lens for the big wide world. It is available in mounts for Canon, Nikon, Sony, Pentax and Sigma cameras.

Please remember to click on each photo to see a much larger and sharper version of the images and send us a note letting us know which is your favorite.

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I have just return from several days up near Parry Sound, Ontario at the family cottage on Horseshoe Lake where I spent much of time getting to know my new Nikon D800 and swimming in the lake with my daughter, who is now able, with floaties, to swim quite some distance out from the dock.

I will do a more in-depth look at the D800 in a future post, but first wanted to share these images of the Common Loon family that reside in our bay on the lake. They have two chicks and both seem to be doing very well, diving on their own and both have very healthy appetites. Last year one chick had perished but hopefully this year’s brood will survive. The first two images in this post were photographed from the canoe, using the handheld Nikon 80-400mm VR lens with an ISO setting of 800 and the last image was captured with an ISO setting of 1250. I did not need any additional focal length to create images of these loons on this particular day, but when I did need extra focal length I could easily select the 1.5 crop mode on the D800 and immediately convert the 80-400mm lens to a 120-600mm lens.

Please remember to click on each photo to view a much larger version.

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Male Bullfrog in wetland

Over the course of last weekend I photographed many Bullfrog images. I have had trouble locating the adults in the Horseshoe Lake wetland this year. Not because they are hard to find, but because their numbers have been decreasing over time. I remember when my parents first bought our cottage, 30 years ago, and how the Bullfrog’s calls would fill the night air, but now it seems that there are substantially less frogs singing. On another note, many bullfrog tadpoles have emerged from their watery home to begin their new life above the water’s surface. Hopefully many of these froglets will make it to adulthood and replenish some of the frog numbers here.

Many of these new Bullfrog images will round out the images I require for a project I will be beginning shortly that pertains to frogs. To photograph the ‘frogscape’ above I used my 12-24mm lens set to its closest focusing point, a polarizing filter, a 2-stop grad filter and a bubble level. While handholding the camera just above the water’s surface, I leveled the camera according to the bubble level and fired away.

Below is a collection of images of a large, rather plump male Bullfrog that was most cooperative while it was at rest on a floating section of waterlily roots. Aside from the usual assortment of predators (herons, snapping turtles & water snakes), the juvenile Bullfrogs are also preyed upon by the adult Bullfrogs that have voracious appetites. If they can stuff it in their mouths they will eat it.

Male Bullfrog

Male Bullfrog

Male Bullfrog

Male Bullfrog

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