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Posts Tagged ‘amphibians’

American Toad. Nikon D800, Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens, ISO 800, f8 @ 1/100 sec

American Toad. Nikon D800, Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens, ISO 800, f8 @ 1/100 sec

One of my favorite ways to photograph smaller critters with the Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens is to utilize the sensor crop feature on the Nikon D800. For each of the images in this post I selected the DX 1.5 crop. which is the sensor size of  DSLRs with the APS-C size sensors. When this crop is selected the 15mm fisheye lens becomes the 35mm equivalent of 22mm. Considering that the Sigma fisheye lens already focuses down to 5.5 inches once the sensor crop is selected you have a very effective tool for creating up-close-and-personal portraits of small critters that also give a sense of the habitat in which these critters live. Do note that the Sigma Fisheye lens will focus almost twice as close as the Nikon 16mm Fisheye Lens and for the type of imagery I like to create with the fisheye perspective this is what makes the Sigma lens such an important tool that now follows me everywhere I go :)

Here are a few American Toad images and one Spotted Salamander photo that were created a couple of weeks ago while exploring the woodlands for toads and salamanders. You may note that the salamander only has one eye, which is either a deformity or a past injury now healed. I purposely photographed the good side in hopes of hiding the closed eye. Interestingly enough I photographed this same salamander last fall, so the deformity allows me to monitor this particular one, which resides beneath a log on the cottage property at Horseshoe Lake.

Please do remember to click on each of the photos to view the larger, sharper versions.

American Toad on Haircap Moss. Nikon D800, Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens, ISO 1250, f11 @ 1/250 sec

American Toad on Haircap Moss. Nikon D800, Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens, ISO 1250, f11 @ 1/250 sec

American Toad. Nikon D800, Sigma 15mm f 2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens. ISO 1250, f11 @ 1/40 sec

American Toad. Nikon D800, Sigma 15mm f 2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens. ISO 1250, f11 @ 1/40 sec

Spotted Salamander. Nikon D800, SIgma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens, ISO 1250, f11 @ 1/160 sec

Spotted Salamander. Nikon D800, SIgma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens, ISO 1250, f11 @ 1/160 sec

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Aquarium Set-up_1173

Above you will see the temporary set-up that I used to create the Water Tiger images in the previous post. Click on the image to see the larger version and you will see that I have used a pair of clothes pegs to hold a small piece of cardboard that has been painted with greens and browns to try and get a pond water look onto the back wall of the aquarium. In the image above I used water-logged leaves as the substrate, which did work not bad but they do hold a lot of debris that can cloud the water. On my second attempt at using this set-up I opted for a sandy substrate that worked much better. By setting the small 2.5 gallon aquarium on the bucket photography was made so much easier and the dip net was essential for catching the various critters that I was able to photograph.

In the images below you will notice that some have relatively clean looking water. I achieved this by cloning out some of the larger particles that were in the water and also with a quick and dirty method discovered by reducing the structure and contrast sliders in Nik Viveza 2 to create the ‘clean’ look. Do note that the images with the sandy bottom yield a cleaner look. The debris in the frog photo (you shoulda known I could not resist the temptation for over-under froggie photos :) ), which is a result of the leafy substrate is acceptable to me as frog ponds are seldom crystal clear anyway.

Here are a few of the recent edits from the aquatic pond life set-up. Please let me know which is your favorite and don’t forget to click on each to see the larger, sharper versions.

Salamander Larva. Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens, ISO 50, f14 @

Salamander Larva. Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens, Nikon Speedlight SB400, ISO 100, f14 @ 1/60

Gray Tree Frog Tadpole. Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens, ISO 400, f20 @ 1/60

Gray Tree Frog Tadpole. Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens, Nikon Speedlight SB400,  ISO 400, f20 @ 1/60

Predaceous Diving Beetle Larva Breathing at Surface. Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens, ISO 400, f16 @ 1/60

Predaceous Diving Beetle Larva Breathing at Surface. Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens, Nikon Speedlight SB400, ISO 400, f16 @ 1/60

Green Frog. Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens, ISO 500, f16 @ 1/125

Green Frog. Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens, ISO 500, f16 @ 1/125

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American Toad_9913

The two images presented here were created a few seconds apart. Often I will take several images from various angles and perspectives when photographing frogs and toads at night, especially when I see the ripple effect. The ripple effect is created when the toad’s vocal sac touches the water’s surface while it is chorusing. The vibration of the vocal sac creates the ripples. In each of these images I was immediately drawn to the way the dead cattail leaves were framing the toad along the bottom portion of the composition and while composing I made certain not to cut-off the ‘V’ created by the break in the leaf at the bottom edge.

American Toad_9915

Please remember to click on each of the images to see the larger, sharper versions. Which do you prefer?

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Gray Treefrog_244

A few nights ago I ventured out into a new pond that I had discovered where Gray Treefrogs are chorusing very loudly. The pond already has a dense growth of cattails so working my way out to the area of the pond where the frogs were located was tricky at best, but I was able to create a few new images that ended up in the keeper file :) Gray Treefrogs are the chameleons of the amphibian world, able to change their colors to blend in to their surrounding environment. Photographing them in the spring when they are at their breeding pools among the green cattails typically produces images of them in their splendid greens.

Gray Treefrog_260

Gray Treefrog_278

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Green Frog With Vocal Sac Inflated

Green Frog With Vocal Sac Inflated

By far the most productive nights for photographing frogs and toads tend to be those which are humid, rainy, or drizzly. Above is a recent Green Frog photographed with its vocal sac inflated that was created on a wet evening after the rain stopped. Using a Nikon D800 and a Nikon 105mm Micro lens, I knelt down in the shallow pond with my chest waders on and assumed a low and steady perspective  by resting my elbows on the pond’s substrate. Green Frog’s vocal sacs are only inflated for a brief period while they are making their loose banjo string-like song, but closely watching their movements you can easily learn when to press the shutter to capture a fully inflated vocal sac.

Please click on the image to see the larger, sharper version.

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A Large Male Bullfrog on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

A Large Male Bullfrog on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

I created this bullfrog portrait last summer on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario. The easiest way to create such images of bullfrogs is to do so from a canoe. Bullfrogs are generally quite approachable and will often tolerate you sliding up beside them in a canoe. By using the Live View mode on my Nikon D800 with a Nikon 105mm Micro lens attached I was able to hand-hold the rig just above the water’s surface for a low perspective – the lens hood was actually dipping into the water slightly. When you photograph frogs in the water from such low perspectives you will be able to get the accompanying reflection. To ensure that I am holding the camera square with the world I place a double-bubble level in the camera’s hot-shoe, alternately you could activate the virtual horizon feature while in the Live View mode. It is also advisable to use auto-focus while doing so as the last thing you need to worry about while leaning over the edge of your canoe is focusing the lens manually.

I am eagerly awaiting this season’s Bullfrog photography on Horseshoe Lake as I will be experimenting with the Sony RX100 in an underwater housing for a completely new perspective on froggies.

Please do click on the image to see the larger, sharper version.

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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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