Archive for May, 2013

Spring Peeper_7343Spring Peeper with Vocal Sac Inflated

With the frog ponds behind my home destroyed, I traveled north to the Parry Sound region to first open the cottage up for another season and to visit one of my favorite temporary ponds that is usually highly productive for American Toads, Spring Peepers, and Gray Treefrogs. The first night was very cool and only the Spring Peepers were out chorusing. Finding Spring Peepers requires a boat load of patience due to there tiny size, but they usually co-operative once you do locate them. The above little fella was found in perfect position on a small silver birch sapling and his placement on the branch would allow for a beautiful poster-like background.

The main problem encountered with photographing frogs at night with flash is spectral highlights. These are blown-out highlights caused when the light from the flash hits the frog’s glossy skin and surrounding wet vegetation. Often I will spend a lengthy amount of time cleaning up these undesirable and unnatural highlights. On occasion, as you can see in the before and after versions below, there will be extensive blown-out highlights. For this particular image there was little good skin left, on the frog’s nose, to work with to evict the highlights so I looked back through the series of images I photographed of this frog on the branch. Sure enough I was able to find another photo where the flash hit the frog’s skin at a slightly different angle resulting in fewer blown-out highlights. I now had my solution. I opened both images into Photoshop and rather than use the ‘Tile’ viewing, I opened them into ‘windows.’ I then made a quick mask of the nose in the image with fewer highlights and moved it into position on the optimized image. The remainder of the flash generated highlights were evicted using the clone stamp tool whereby I would vary the hardness depending on where in the image I was cloning.

This Spring Peeper image was created using a Nikon D800 with a Nikon 105mm Micro lens attached. The flash was a Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket (the best flash bracket I have ever used for frog photography). A small mini-mag flashlight is affixed to the SB400 with two elastics. The small flashlight makes focusing on these critters at night a breeze.

Do remember to click on the images to see the larger, sharper versions of each. The image below shows the original RAW capture straight out of the camera with no adjustments made to it, and the optimized image.

A quick reminder to folks about Denise Ippolito’s presentation for GRIPS Camera Club in Kitchener, Ontario on Monday June 3rd at 7:30 pm. Denise is a very talented and highly creative photographer with imagery bound to fill you with inspiration. If you are in the vicinity do make plans to attend.Hope to see you there 🙂

Spring Peeper Before & AfterBefore and After Versions of Spring Peeper

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Rosseau River_7406Lower Rosseau Falls, Muskoka, Ontario

I have been having a rather hectic week. Last weekend was our annual opening of the cottage on Horseshoe Lake in Ontario’s Parry Sound region, and there is always tons of work to be done to get it ready for the coming season. After much of the work was completed it was time to take a break and make the short drive over to Lower Rosseau Falls on the Rosseau River in Ontario’s Muskoka District. It almost felt like an autumn photo trip as many of the newly emerging maple leaves were brilliant reds and yellows.

These two images have been processed differently than usual as I having been using the new photoshop plug-in Clarity from Topaz Labs. I have only first begun to use the software but so far I am loving the way it naturally boosts the contrast in the images. To find out more about this new product from Topaz Labs please click here. And if you decide to purchase the software use the coupon code “claritynew” and pay a mere $29.99 US. That’s exactly what I did tonight!

Do remember to click on each of the images to see the larger, sharper versions and let me know what you think of the Topaz Clarity treatment.

Rosseau River_7524Lower Rosseau Falls, Muskoka, Ontario

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Old Wreck_7229-Yellowed 2Old Wreck In Field – Silver Effects Pro 2 – Yellowed 2 Preset

After dropping my daughter off at school the other day I decided it was time to drive to a local conservation area not far from my home. As I made my way there the rains began to come in and were getting heavier. As I drove along the concession road bound for my intended destination I happened upon this old wreck sitting at the edge of an agricultural field. I could not resist the temptation and slammed on the brakes, grabbed my gear and proceeded to create a few images that I could take home to play around with on a rather wet and dreary day.

In the first image I chose to use Nik/Google’s Silver Effects Pro 2 and the Yellowed 2 preset as a starting point. I just love the aged look and border that this preset creates. To create the additional variations below I used Topaz Labs Adjust 5 – Psychedelic Preset and two of my custom presets from the Photoshop plug-in Fractalius. Denise Ippolito and I have written an eGuide for the Fractalius plug-in that should be available shortly.

For folks who love to get creative with there imagery I highly recommend heading to Kitchener, Ontario on June 3rd as Denise will be doing a presentation for the Grips Camera Club, click here for more information.

Hope you enjoy the old wreck creations. Do remember to click on the images to see the larger, sharper version.

Which is your favorite rendering?

Old Wreck_7232-topazOld Wreck – Topaz Adjust 5 – Psychedelic Preset

Old Wreck_7232-fractaliusOld Wreck – Fractalius

Old Wreck_7232-Fractalius 2Old Wreck – Fractalius

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Reich Falls_5070Reich Falls near Port Antonio, Jamaica

One of my favorite locations visited during my 10 day trip to the Port Antonio region of Jamaica was Reich Falls. This stunning waterfall is found in the rainforest-like environment of Jamaica’s John Crowe Mountains. On the day I traveled to this destination I was blessed with over-cast conditions, which are often the favored conditions for waterfall photography. The easiest way to photograph this river was to leave the footwear on the riverbank downstream and walk up river, photographing along the way. The processing of these image files has varied somewhat but I do find that I am using Nik/Google’s Detail Extractor Tool found in Color Efex Pro 4 often, to reveal additional detail in cascading rivers.

Please take a moment to let me know which image is your favorite and why and do remember to click on the photos to see the larger, sharper version.

Driver's River_Jamaica_5046Drivers River in the John Crowe Mountains, Jamaica

This is the river scene that greeted me as I made my way through the forest and reached the riverbank. I was in awe. This is perhaps the most photogenic river I have ever had the pleasure to photograph.

Driver's River_Jamaica_5074Drivers River in the John Crowe Mountains, Jamaica

Above is a scene a little further upstream from the previous photo. The Detail Extractor Tool in Nik/Google’s Color Efex Pro 4 really enhanced the foreground water nicely.

Driver's River_Jamaica_5080-1Drivers River in the John Crowe Mountains, Jamaica

A beautiful, turquoise pool at the base of a small cascade along the Drivers River. I could not get over the stunning color of the water. This is a true representation of the water’s color.

Driver's River_Jamaica_5091Drivers River in the John Crowe Mountains, Jamaica

Directly above and below you will see the same scene captured in both vertical and horizontal orientations. This something I do for almost all of my landscape work. While I will usually tend to favor one version over the other, I find it to be a good practice to create an image in each orientation, especially if you plan to market your imagery one day.

Driver's River_5087Drivers River in the John Crowe Mountains, Jamaica

In addition to the above, I am pleased to announce that I am now a moderator in the Landscape Forum at BirdPhotographers.net. Do check out the links to BirdPhotographer.net, a premier online educational nature photography community. I have been a member for a several years now and find it to be a great educational resource. The critique forums are beneficial to folks at all stages in their photographic development.

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