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Posts Tagged ‘wetlands’

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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As readers of this blog will remember, about a year and half ago I had the pleasure of photographing an unusually colored heron in Cuba’s Jardines del rey archipelago, an UNESCO World Biosphere, on the island of Cayo Santa Maria. My photos of this odd looking heron eventually made their way to Dr. James Kushlan of the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Heron Specialist Group. It is believed that this heron  is either a melanistic or genetic variant of the Green Heron and is most likely the first record for such plumage in this species.

Below you will see the JPEG version from the latest issue of Conservator, a beautiful magazine that is published by Ducks Unlimited Canada  and sent out to those that hold a membership with Ducks Unlimited Canada. The most recent issue of the magazine began hitting the doorsteps of DUC members this week and features an InfoGraphic on my Melanistic Green Heron that I photographed in Cuba. The inset image shows a normally plumaged Green Heron that was also photogaphed in Cuba.

Please take a moment to check out the Ducks Unlimited Canada website particularly the page that celebrates their 75 Years of Conservation Excellence.  DUC has conserved 6.3 million acres and has completed 9,000 projects all aimed at conservation. That folks is an amazing track record don’t you think!

To see a larger version of this excerpt from the magazine do remember to click on the image.

 

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Boardwalk at Sifton Bog, London, Ontario

Over the next week I will be hitting the trails, traveling to some of my favorite destinations for fall colour photography. I’ll try to pop back in to say hello and perhaps show a few fresh images during the coming week. For those of you in south-central Ontario I hear that Algonquin Provincial Park is at peak colour now, so it would make a great destination for folks to head out to this weekend coming. I will be there on Monday. The above image is of the boardwalk at Sifton Bog in London, Ontario which I made a quick stop at for a few new photos of the area. Sifton Bog is an Environmentally Significant Area, being one of the southern most acid bogs in all of Canada.

Please remember to click on the photo to see a larger, sharper version of the image.

See ya soon!

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Whenever I am out photographing Bullfrogs I can’t resist creating some frogscape images when I come across a cooperative fellow. This male bullfrog was more than cooperative for me as he chose to hang-out under this raised lily pad leaf for three days in a row, before moving on elsewhere in the wetland. I guess it was a cool place to hang out. Photographing images like this have become easier than ever with Live View technology. To create the above image I simply brought the canoe up alongside of the frog, used my wide angle lens set to approximately 35mm, composed the photo, and auto-focused on the eye. I also used a 2-stop neutral density filter to hold back the sky. This is often a necessity for frogscapes as the foreground is usually much darker than the sky. To keep the frog square with the world I always refer to the double bubble level that is in the cameras hot-shoe.
If you haven’t checked out the latest issue of the Creative Photography eMini Magazine yet be sure to click on the link in the sidebar to see the latest issue. And while there do note the first photography contest for the magazine has been announce – The MiniMag Sunflower Photo Contest. All the details you need to know to enter the contest are on the front page of the MiniMagazine and to view some of the great images entered already check out the Facebook Photo Album here. If your image is chosen as the winning image your photo will be featured in the Creative Photography eMiniMagazine and Arthur Morris’ Birds As Art Blog. You will also receive a copy of Denise Ippolito’s must-have eBook ‘Bloomin’ Ideas’ and a free ticket to a 2 day nature photography seminar with Denise and Arthur on Staten Island, New York.

Hope to see your sunflower photos soon. :)

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Bullfrog and approaching storm

(Nikon D800, Nikon 12-24mm lens with a 2-stop ND Grad Filter)

One of the features that I am absolutely in love with on the Nikon D800 is the “Live View’ feature. While this is not new to DSLRs, it is new to me and it is saving me boat-loads of time when I am creating my frog-scapes. To photograph my frog-scapes now I simply activate the feature, extend my arm out from the canoe and position the camera at the water’s surface, compose the scene and press the shutter. Presto! I have the image I wanted. Prior to this I would be shooting ‘blind’ firing off many frames and then review the images on the LCD screen to see if I captured the one I had hoped too. The images above was photographed using the Nikon D800 in crop sensor mode as I was using my Nikon 12-24mm DX lens. A 2-stop Graduated Neuratl Denisty Filter was used to hold back the cloud formations of an approaching storm. Below you will see a couple of additional images that were photographed using the live view feature. Please note that when I am utilizing the live view feature on the D800 for my frog-scapes I am still using my double bubble level in the hot-shoe to make sure the camera is square with the world. Even though the D800 has a ‘Virtual Horizon’ feature I find the double bubble level to be more practical for my frog-scapes.

Please click on each of the images to view a much larger version. And stay tuned tomorrow for an announcement about a very cool e-mini mag that I am honored to be a part of.

Bullfrog in wetland

(Nikon D800, Sigma 8-16mm lens)

Bullfrog at dusk in wetland

(Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm lens)

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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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The photographs accompanying today’s post mark the some of the last photos taken with my Nikon D200 and the last post for a couple of weeks. After a very long wait my newly purchased Nikon D800 has finally arrived and I will be heading out the door to have some fun with the new camera. Why did I upgrade? Certainly not because the D200 was not taking great images but quite simply, I require a new tool to capture the images I want, and I believe that the Nikon D800 will allow me to do just that. In the coming weeks we will see :)  The two images in today’s post are from Tiny Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area located neat Elmvale, Ontario. Do note in the last image I should have captured this photo a few seconds earlier when the highest part of the cloud formation was directly above the tallest tree on the right side of the image.

I hope everybody has a safe, fun-filled Canada Day weekend and to my friends south of the border, all the best on July 4 :)

Please click on each image to view a much larger version of the photos.

See you soon!

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On a recent early morning trip to Ontario’s Tiny Marsh Provincial Wildlife Area for some sunrise photography (more on that shortly), I also made my way over to the boardwalk trail for some frog photography. I was hoping for lots of Leopard Frogs but none were to be found, however, there were many Green Frogs. The wetland surrounding the boardwalk at Tiny Marsh has lots of duckweed growing in the water now and this makes for some lovely images of frogs, as they poke their heads above the water’s surface.

The Green Frog in this post was located rather close to the edge of the boardwalk and very cooperative too. The problem here was that the light was too dark to handhold my Nikon 105mm Micro lens, at the desired aperture of f-16, for a decent image and using my trusty Nikon SB400 Speedlight was ruining this scene as it was creating numerous unpleasant highlights throughout the duckweed. The solution to photographing this frog was to use my tripod mounted Nikon 80-400mm VR lens, but the minimum focusing distance of this lens is roughly 7 feet and this frog was only about 2 inches in length – how would I do that? Well this is where I have to breakdown and admit that I was forced to make a switch to Canon :) A Canon 500D Close-up lens to be exact. This close-up lens, with 77mm threads, is essentially a double element filter that simply screws onto the front of the lens as any filter would normally do, but it reduces the focusing distance of the lens drastically, allowing the 80-400mm VR lens to be used as a macro lens whenever I need it to, at a fraction of the weight and price of carrying an additional lens into the field. A polarizing filter was also attached to the front of the Canon close-up filter to reduce much of the undesirable glare from the duckweed.

Alternately, as I sit here writing this blog post I am charging the battery for my newly purchased Nikon D800. If I had this camera in my hands last week when I visited Tiny Marsh, I most likely would have cranked up the ISO and fired away with the handheld 105mm micro lens. Ain’t technology grand :)

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While they may not be everybody’s cup of tea, Six-spotted Fishing Spiders are often found in frog ponds and they are very easy, and they are usually rather co-operative photographic subjects. While out in the ponds it is hard to pass up such interesting and cool looking critters that are easily photographed. In fact, last year several of the spider images I captured while photographing frogs and toads were featured in a children’s nature magazine, and one of the images was used as a double-page spread. Such ‘b-roll’ images also help to tell the story of life in the frog pond. A simple set-up of camera, macro lens, and a small flash on a user friendly flash bracket such as the Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket to hold the flash out over the lens will do the trick every time. To read more about this set-up please refer to my earlier blog post regarding this set-up here.

Most often Six-spotted Fishing Spiders will rest on the water’s surface with their back legs hanging onto a cattail leaf or other vegetation on the surface of the pond. If my approach is to quick they will usually follow a cattail stem down to the bottom of the pond and rise to the surface again once they think the danger has passed. These very interesting spiders will frequently prey upon tadpoles and aquatic insect larvae. The first image below you will notice a small tadpole clinging to the cattail leaf beside one of the spider’s legs. In the above image note how the spider was positioned within the frame, so that the front legs are extending out into the two lower corners of the image to help create some symmetrical balance for the spider’s body being centered within the composition. Below you will see three additional images of Six-spotted Spiders including one carrying an egg sac.

Please click on each image to view a much larger version of these very interesting arachnids.

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American Toads in amplexus

On Friday night after a significant rainfall I made my way out to the ponds in the abandoned cattle pasture behind my home, lured by the resonating trills of the male American Toads in full chorus. I found many pairs in amplexus (latin for embrace), which is where the male toad grasps the female toad during mating and egg laying. At one point during the night as I sat in the pond, I was surrounded by several pairs of toads that were in the process of laying eggs. It can be difficult to capture decent images of the pairs in amplexus as I find when you try to fit both toads in the frame too many distracting elements from the pond enter the composition. On this night, I decided to concentrate on fitting the males, or at least most of them, in the composition and let the female toad become clipped, but I still made sure that the female toad was a prominent part of the composition by making sure she was front and center within the frame. Above and below are two of my favorite amplexus images from the night.

American Toads in amplexus (note the eggs)

One of the biggest problems with photographing frogs and toads at night is a result caused by using flash to illuminate the subjects. The flash will always create undesirable spectral highlights. The skin of the frogs and toads is wet, as is the vegetation in the pond, and this creates the perfect conditions for the flash to cause such highlights. I spend a significant amount of time (sometimes up to an hour per image) removing these flash generated highlights. Often I will work on an image very large (600-800%) to successfully evict the highlights and quite often I will use the clone stamp tool and vary the opacity (0-50%) depending on where in the image I am cloning. I will be including a chapter that deals exclusively with how I optimize my frog and toad imagery in my forthcoming guide to photographing frogs and toads (I hope to have the book completed and ready to publish by the end of the summer). While some folks to tend shy away from such evictions, I see nothing wrong with performing this type of image clean-up during the optimization process of the photographs. I don’t believe that it changes the natural integrity of the image. Below you will see a before and after example of a male American Toad, with vocal sac inflated, while serenading for a mate. The two images above of the toads in amplexus have already been optimized with all flash generated highlights removed.

Before – unedited raw capture

After – the optimized image file

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