Archive for July, 2010

It has been awhile between posts, due to renovation projects at home. I have also been busy preparing a large selection of imagery for clients – no time to shoot new stuff. As I was preparing my images I came to these two and thought I would share them.
A few years ago I was on Cayo Largo, a small island off the South coast of Cuba, which has a healthy population of cooperative Cuban Iguanas. While I was framing the above Iguana it suddenly displayed threatening behaviour towards another Iguana. I shot and hoped for the best. The Iguana image below, however, is my favorite, due to the primitive/prehistoric look of this large male.

Many of the small islands in Cuba, such as Cayo Largo or Cayo Guillermo, are very quiet, safe places to visit with many great photographic possibilities, particularly around the mangrove wetlands.

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This past spring was a quiet one and that I find quite disturbing. Behind my home lies about 40 acres of abandoned cattle pasture. This is traditionally a wet meadow with numerous vernal ponds resulting from the melting snow. I have lived here for 13 years and every spring we are serenaded to sleep by frogs and toads during the spring chorus. This year was an exception.

Normally, around my home, the frogs emerge from hibernation in the following order: chorus frogs, wood frogs, spring peepers, toads with leopard frogs, green frogs and gray’s treefrogs to follow. This spring began like any other – the chorus frogs were singing their hearts out by the end of March. The wood frogs and spring peepers followed, but as conditions warmed further where were the toads. Perhaps they would not arrive at the ponds until the first warm rainy night. Warm rainy nights came and went, but no toads. The toads never arrived this spring to chorus in any of the ponds within this field. The leopard frogs and green frogs did arrive, but only two gray’s treefrogs were heard chorusing on one occasion. I find this to be disturbing and puzzling. It is puzzling because during my forays to the ponds I could hear toads and gray’s treefrogs chorusing in distant ponds, but why not in these ponds? What happened? Where were they? I have no answers to these questions. Only more questions. I wonder if it is the first sign a frog populations in decline near my home.

All around the world frog populations and other amphibians too are in decline. Amphibians are considered to be  “indicator species.” When their numbers are decreasing it indicates that there is something drastically wrong with their environment – a sign of biodiversity disaster.

Amphibians have been around for some 250 million years and survived when dinosaurs did not, but will they survive the impact of humans. We continue to destroy habitat. Wetlands are filled in and paved over all in the name of “progress.” In Southern Ontario, over 80% of original wetlands have been lost due to human development. Moreover, dryer summers as a result of global warming will mean there is a greater chance of vernal ponds drying out before amphibian larvae are able to complete their metamorphosis into adults. It would only take one or two such occurrences to have a drastic effect on local amphibian populations.

Declining amphibian populations is something that we should all take seriously. It is a warning sign!

Below is a selection of images to celebrate these amazing critters. Many of these images are older ones, captured on slide film with a Minolta X700, macro lens, and a cheap $5 Vivtar flash (purchased from a scrap bin at a Toronto camera store) mounted on a homemade flash bracket. The last two images are recent digital captures.

Hope you like the photographs.

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Here’s one from a couple of weeks ago. These cotton clouds were irresistible as they were floating over this farmscape. The crop in the foreground is winter wheat and the crop near the barn is corn, in its early growth stage. I will be shooting this again soon as the winter wheat is now golden and almost ready to harvest. Often, when I am not on the road shooting I will go out for quick drives around my rural home for some agriculture photography.

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A quick post to share a recent image from Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario. An early morning paddle in the canoe brought me to a small island, as the sun was rising over the surrounding forest.  I often will use my 12-24mm lens to shoot handheld landscapes from the canoe. As I did for this photograph. I shot several frames, while repositioning the canoe, until the sunburst I envisioned materialized.

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