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Posts Tagged ‘frogs’

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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Johnstone's Whistling Frog with HighLight Warnings

Johnstone’s Whistling Frog with HighLight Warnings

Above you see a photo of a Johnstone’s Whistling Frog that I created in Port Antonio, Jamaica. This was the first image that I created of these lovely little frogs during my stay in Jamaica. Being excited at photographing a new species I forgot to check my camera settings before clicking the shutter. When I scrolled back through a couple of the frames to confirm my exposures were correct I realized my error and immediately dialed in the correct settings but the frog jumped away. I was left with this image, which on the camera’s LCD screen was showing what appeared to be blown-out highlights (note that in the above image I made adjustments in ACR to mimic what I was seeing on the camera’s LCD screen – the highlight warnings on the camera would have been black instead of red as shown above).

Directly below is the same image as it opened in ACR. You can see that the highlights are not too bad after all. The red highlight warnings seen here red here are the flash generated spectral highlights, which are indeed blown-out with no detail whatsoever.

Johnstone's Whistling Frog in ACR inter-face

Johnstone’s Whistling Frog in ACR inter-face

Now look at the optimized image file below. After making the required slider adjustments in ACR I was able to recover a great deal of detail in what the camera originally indicated was blown-out and lacking detail. I then opened the image in Photoshop and using a series of Quick Masks and Clone Stamp Tool applications addressing the flash generated highlights.

Johnstone's Whistling Frog, Port Antonio, Jamaica

Johnstone’s Whistling Frog, Port Antonio, Jamaica

This is why I do not delete photos, in the field, as seen on the camera’s LCD screen. I always wait until I am editing a trip’s images when back home at the computer.

Please click on the images to see the larger, sharper versions.

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Optimized Version of Cuban Treefrog on Cayman Brac

Optimized Version of Cuban Treefrog on Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands

I have just spent the last hour optimizing the above photograph of a juvenile Cuban Treefrog. During my trip to Cayman Brac in the Cayman Islands. Each night I would leave the villa and go for a night-time stroll in search of some night-life. The Cuban Treefrogs were plentiful and I spent many enjoyable hours creating numerous images of them. In the original RAW capture below you do not need to look too closely to identify many of the issue.

Original RAW Capture - Cuban Treefrog

Original RAW Capture – Cuban Treefrog

First and foremost I was not holding the camera square with the world, there are two unsightly, tiny stones on the frog’s lip and if you click on the images to see the larger, sharper version you will see a lot of flash generated spectral highlights. To optimize this image I first rotated until I felt that froggie was square with the world and then using both a series of quick masks and clone stamp tool I painstakingly worked on the image at 400% to effectively evict each of the spectral highlights. The nice thing about the massive image files created by the Nikon D800 is that you can afford to lose a few pixels when rotating and cropping such as this with no degradation to the image quality.

Now for the quiz: to photograph the Cuban Treefrog I used a Nikon D800 and what lens? The frog measured about an inch in length. I will reveal the answer in 2-3 days.

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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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Golden Dart Frog (phyllobates terribilis)

Golden Dart Frog (phyllobates terribilis)

Undoubtedly one of the most stunning dart frogs I have had the pleasure of photographing is the Golden Dart Frog.What makes this dart frog so special? It has earned the name The Terrible One because it is the most toxic frog of all. So toxic that simply touching the frog could kill you. The alkaloid toxins on their skin are said to be potent enough to kill three elephants. Pretty powerful stuff for a frog that is not more than an inch in length – gotta love it! Fortunately, this is a captive specimen and is perfectly safe to handle. Poison Dart Frogs get their toxins from the insects they eat in their native homelands. In captivity dart frogs are typically fed a diet of wingless fruit flies and the end result is that they will lose their toxicity.

Several months ago I photographed numerous captive bred frog specimens for the frog photography eBook I am writing. The eBook will an extensive how-to guide to finding, photographing, and optimizing frog images. Since I was wanting to include sections on photographing dart frogs and captive specimens I arranged a session with a breeder that I know. It was very important that I photograph specimens bred in captivity and not wild caught frogs. Why? Because amphibians are the fast declining animal species on the planet – sadly humanity is to blame for this decline. Global warming, habitat destruction, and pollution are just some of the causes. Another major downfall for frogs has been the importing of Bullfrogs (rana catesbeiana) as a food source (frog legs), which has led to bullfrogs escaping and inhabiting 14 countries around the world often with devastating results.

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

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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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Gray Treefrog_7662Gray Treefrog and Caddisfly

Early last week I could here a couple of Gray Treefrogs chorusing near my home, so I decided to try to locate them and I did. It was most difficult to photograph these frogs as the ponds substrate was very mucky. Often with each step my feet would sink about 12 inches into the mud. Once I was able to position myself close enough to the frogs I would kneel down in the mud to allow myself to be able to photograph from a low perspective. As I worked my way into position for the above image I was initially bugged by the bug resting on the frog’s head and then I thought that this may just make a fun image, so I happily captured numerous frames of this male Gray Treefrog chorusing with the Caddisfly atop its head.

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Spring Peepers_7318Spring Peepers, Parry Sound, Ontario

To follow-up on my previous post regarding Spring Peeper clean-up, there is on occasion when I may find it necessary to perform little clean-up at all. The above image illustrates one such situation. These treefrogs were located far up a sandy bank of the pond among some small twigs. I do not often encounter such interactions between spring peepers and I have never photographed two in the frame with one singing before, so I was delighted to find this very co-operative pair.  As you can see it would be a nightmare to attempt cleaning up the grains of sand from the frog’s skin and I do think the grains of sand and small twigs help illustrate the environment in which these frogs were found. I did perform some clean-up of the flash generated spectral highlights as this is a night-time capture. Night-time is my preferred and most productive time of day for frog photography. Why? Most frog species are nocturnal and are most active at night.

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

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