Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Archive for the ‘Amphibians’ Category

Brown Booby in flight, Cayman Brac
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 90mm
ISO 500, f6.3 @ 1/5000 sec.

Originally released in August of 2010 the Nikon 28-300mm VR lens has to be one the most versatile lenses available. Often you can find this lens in the used gear department for approximately $700 CDN. Like most folks, before I purchased this lens for my own gear bag I read several on-line reviews. I did not believe that the lens could really be as bad as folks were leading on. Here is a selection of some items that I noted during my internet readings:

  • softness in the center, sharpening up out towards the corners, and the some more corner softness
  • stopped-down results are downright blurry at the telephoto end of 300mm @ ƒ/36)
  • the 28-300 isn’t a really sharp lens and the corners are mush
  • zoom range exhibited shockingly poor off-axis image quality
  • is not a pro level lens nor one I’d use for critical shoots
  • I’m assuming this lens was defective as I couldn’t get a sharp picture no matter how hard I tried

I determined that in order to find out for myself I would need to add this lens to my gear bag. Right before I boarded the plane for my Cayman Brac Photo Tour in February I did just that. It is now one of my most favorite lenses. The lens does have one annoying habit, or at least my copy does. When the lens is pointed downward the zoom creep is very evident. Nonetheless, my honest opinion is that this lens does produce stellar results when good technique and creative vision is applied. Often I can be found in-the-field with my 28-300mm lens attached to one of my Nikons ready to capture those fleeting moments where changing lenses is not an option. The 28-300mm range is perfect for such circumstances.

I have never been one to trust the so-called internet experts. I much prefer to take gear out into the field and put it to the test. A real world review illustrating the quality of the lens with photographic examples.

Having the ability to zoom from 28mm to 300mm is a definite plus. On Cayman Brac I was able to photograph nesting Brown Boobies at close range and then quickly zoom out to 300mm to capture Brown Boobies in flight as they approached the cliff edge on their return to their nests.

Brown Booby pair at the nest, Cayman Brac
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 55mm
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/400 sec.

I also find the lens to be a powerful tool for my landscape work as illustrated in the below image of a winter wheat field at sunset near my rural home in Thornton, Ontario. A Singh Ray 3-stop reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter was also used in the capture of the sunset scene below.

Winter Wheat at Sunset, Thornton, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 82mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 3 seconds.

Having a minimum focusing distance of a mere 1.6 feet throughout the entire zoom range is also a huge bonus to my frog photography. In the past I would have to switch lenses to create my signature frog-scapes and close-up portraits. With the Nikon 28-300 I can simply zoom the lens from wide to telephoto and create both scenarios in mere seconds, as illustrated in the two Bullfrog images below.

Bullfrog, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 48mm
ISO 500, f8 @ 1/800 sec.

 

Bullfrog, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
ISO 500, f8 @ 1/640 sec.

While photographing Wood Ducks in Toronto, Ontario I am also able to create stunning portraits and close-up feather details due to the short, minimum focusing distance. While I was photographing feather details of a Wood Duck hen that had chose to sit beside me on a particular outing I had noticed that a lovely drake Wood Duck had also come into close proximity allowing me to zoom out and create a tight head shot of him. The versatility of the Nikon 28-300mm lens allowed me the opportunity to create both these images without the need to switch lenses , which would likely had caused one of the two birds, or both, to move further away.

Drake Wood Duck, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
ISO 2000, f5.6 @ 1/250 sec.

 

Hen Wood Duck Feather Details, Toronto, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
ISO 1000, f11 @ 1/80 sec.

While walking along the shoreline of the Caribbean Ocean in Cayman Brac I came upon a dead crab. The shell of the dea crab was beautifully colored with interesting details too. To create the below macro shot of the crab shell details I used my Canon 500D Close-up Filter on the Nikon 28-300mm lens and stopped down to f22. There is some minor softness in the extreme corners of the image but this is due to the curvature of the shell. Ideally I should have used the focus stacking method to gain perfect sharpness in the corners.

Crab Shell Details, Cayman Brac
Nikon D500, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/40 sec.

For those of us longing for some cooler temperatures in this heat wave, I have included a winter river detail image from my Muskoka Winter Waterfall Spectacular Workshop this past January 🙂

Winter River Details, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikon 28-300mm VR Lens @ 300mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 1.6 sec.

Advertisements

Read Full Post »

Newly Emerging Leaves in Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Laowa 12mm f2.8 Zero D Lens

Spring arrived very slowly to the Muskoka area this year, but nonetheless it has arrived in all it’s splendor. I am often drawn to the newly emerging leaves within the forest but on a bright sunny and cloudless day there is often too much contrast within the forest however, looking up changes the perspective to one that is quite photogenic and even allows the opportunity to incorporate the sun into the composition as I did with the above image using the Laowa 12mm Zero D Lens.

My most favourite past-time in spring includes getting out into the vernal ponds to photograph the various frogs that show up in vast numbers to breed. Although the frogs have been chorusing for a number of weeks I was unable to find time in my schedule to get out into the ponds until this past weekend. I was excited to finally get out and try my new home-made flash diffuser mentioned in the This Might Just Be The Best Flash Diffuser Ever! blog post. As I expected I was more than thrilled with the performance of the flash diffuser in the field. Due to the larger size of the diffuser I did have to be cautious with my approach to the frogs and be careful that the diffuser did not bump any corresponding branches or foliage that may disturb the frogs, thus interrupting their singing. Below are a few of the images I captured over the course of the weekend exploring the vernal ponds. During these excursions I was delighted to encounter a Wood Frog at one of the ponds. It has been a great number of years since I have seen a Wood Frog in the woodlands of Muskoka.

Spring Peeper chorusing
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens

The below image of the chorusing Spring Peeper was particularly challenging to photograph as he was singing beside a rather fresh pile of Moose scat. Positioning myself as I would normally do would have seen me laying in the scat, therefore, a different approach was much needed. To gain a low perspective and avoid the moose scat I utilized the Nikon D500’s tilting LCD screen so that I could hold the camera at ground level using LIve View to compose and capture the image.

Spring Peeper chorusing
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens

 

Wood Frog
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens

The below image of the Green Frog among Hair-cap Moss really illustrates the usefulness of the home-made diffuser. Under normal flash conditions there would be many unpleasant shadows created by a bare flash. The polystyrene diffuser softens the light, eliminating any and all harsh shadows.

Green Frog
Nikon D500, Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens

Read Full Post »

We have two new dates for the Frogs of the World Photographic Workshops (with an optional add-on Photoshop session from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.) that will be held at the Crinan Community Centre near London, Ontario. The dates are as follows:

Saturday, May 26, 2018 10:00a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (Optional Add-on Photoshop Session 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.)

Sunday May 27, 2018 10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (Optional Add-on Photoshop Session 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m.)

The space for each workshop is limited to a maximum of 8 participants to allow ample time for folks to photograph each species of frog.

These are the only workshops available whereby you will be able to capture stunning imagery of 15 – 20 different species of frogs from all over the world. We will be photographing numerous varieties of dart frogs endemic to the Amazon rainforest, several tree frogs of Costa Rica and South America, as well as the bizarre Leaf Frog of the Malaysian jungle. It would cost tens of thousands of dollars to explore the jungles of the world on your own in hopes of photographing a mere fraction of these species. These workshops, in partnership with Understory Enterprises, will bring you an incredible opportunity to photograph these 15 – 20 species of frogs in a comfortable atmosphere with natural studio set-ups. The recommended gear for photographing these tiny frogs is a macro lens and off camera flash. Alternately, using high quality close-up filters such as the Canon 500D filters will allow many lenses such as the Nikon 80-400mm or Canon 100-400mm to focus close enough for these small subjects. Please contact me here if you have any equipment inquiries when registering for this workshop. I also have custom made flash diffusers that will allow folks to capture stunning imagery using camera mounted flash as well.

New to these two workshops will be an optional 2 hour add-on Photoshop session for folks that wish to see learn how I edit and optimize my frog photography. I will also be on hand to guide each participant through optimizing a couple of their own images from the day.

Coffee, tea and snacks will be provided during the workshop.

To register for this workshop folks may contact me by clicking here for availability and for making arrangement for payments, which are accepted by email transfer or by cheque made payable to Andrew McLachlan.

The cost of the workshop is $195 plus taxes. Folks that wish to sign-up for the 2 hour add-on Photoshop session please add $65 plus taxes.

Please specify when registering for these workshops if you wish to sign-up for the Photoshop session afterwards.

Cancellation Policy

Full refund, less a $25 administration fee, 31 days prior to the workshop date

No Refunds 30 days prior to the workshop date

Hope to see you there!

 

On an alternate note, due to the severe inclement weather this weekend the Tiny Marsh Teaching Moment Photographic Workshop has been rescheduled to Sunday April 22nd. Please contact me by clicking here at your earliest convenience if you wish to join this event at one of south-central Ontario’s largest and most impressive wetland complexes.

Read Full Post »

Sachatamia albomaculata

On Tuesday, April 3rd I spent the day testing a new DIY flash diffuser while photographing numerous species of frogs for some of the soon to be announced frog workshops. Most of the species featured in today’s post will be available at the next workshop. I can honestly say that this is the absolute best way to diffuse flash when photographing frogs. I am certain that this method of flash diffusion will also work incredibly well for insects too. Often when using flash to photograph frogs there will be some flash generated spectral highlights. Over the years I have become quite skilled at removing such highlights in Photoshop, but the process is time consuming. In today’s blog post my newly created DIY flash diffuser was used to photograph each of the species that are featured. How much post production did I do to each of these photos? The answer is not much at all. Aside from a few tweaks in Adobe Camera Raw and removing a few dust bunnies in Photoshop these images are essentially as is, straight from the camera. I spent no more than about 5 minutes optimizing each of the images in today’s post. There were no flash generated spectral highlights to be concerned with. I cannot wit to get into the wetlands near my home, with my new DIY flash diffuser, to photograph the frogs and toads during the spring breeding season this year

How much did it cost to make my new DIY flash diffuser? The price of a 1 kilogram plastic jar of Kraft peanut butter! The other items I already had on hand and they included an elastic and polystyrene foam sheeting.

Below are a few photos of my newly created DIY flash diffuser and an explanation of how I constructed it to follow.

DIY Flash Diffuser Set-up

 

Polystyrene Foam Sheeting

 

DIY Flash Diffuser Components

 

Since polystyrene foam sheeting is rather flimsy and you will need the plastic peanut butter jar (or something similar) to support the foam sheets. Polystyrene foam sheeting is typically used as a packaging item to protect various goods from damage during shipping. I cut the bottom off the plastic jar and I also cut the jar lengthwise to spread out the plastic, to form a concave shape. Creating a concave shape will allow the lighting top be equal distance from the subjet providing a more evenly diffused light. I also made one cut to the top of the jar which easily allows me to mount it onto a 77mm lens hood and hold it firmly in place with an elastic. You will also want to have the plastic jar slope upwards away from the lens as it does in the first photo of the DIY flash diffuser. I did this by simply running boiling water over the plastic to soften it and then bend it by hand. I then taped two layers of foam sheeting directly to my old Nikon SB600 and three pieces, cut to shape, onto the main diffuser. I found this quantity of foam sheeting provided me with the perfect amount of diffused light to completely eliminate flash generated spectral highlights. Take a look at the remaining frog images below. I do think the benefit of using such a simple and inexpensive diffuser speaks volumes. Even the catchlight in the frog’s eyes is more pleasing, allowing us to see more of the eye ball details with this DIY flash diffuser. If you have any questions about how to construct your own DIY flash diffuser using the materials mentioned above please do not hesitate to contact me for further assistance.

 

Atelopus sp. Limon

 

Dendrobates auratus “el Cope”

 

Dendrobates auratus “Yellow”

 

Dendrobates tinctorius “Lorenzo”

 

Dendrobates tinctorius “Patricia”

 

Epipedobates anthonyi “Ankas”

 

Megophrys aceras

 

Oophaga sylvatica “Diablo”

 

Phyllobates vittatus

 

Ranitomeya flavovitatta

 

Ranitomeya immitator “Chazuta”

 

Ranitomeya sirensis

 

Ranitomeya ventrimaculata

 

Theloderma asperum

 

Sachatamia albomaculata

 

Read Full Post »

 

On Tuesday March, 27, 2018 I will be presenting my “Ontario & Beyond – Wild Places Wild Faces” program for the Ajax Photography Club at the Ajax Community Centre located at 75 Centennial Road in the HSM Room. The doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the presentation will begin at 7:00 p.m. Guests are welcome to attend for a $10 admission fee. Mark the date in your calendars and come on out for an enjoyable evening of nature photography and learn the secrets behind how I capture and optimize my my landscape and wildlife imagery.

Hope to see you there 🙂

Read Full Post »

Fringed Tree Frog (Cruziohyla craspedopus)

On the weekend on February 24th & 25th we held another highly successful frog workshop. This workshop, aside from the incredible assortment of dart frogs, included several species of captive-bred tree frogs. My typical set-up for photographing these frogs is to use my Nikon D500 with an old discontinued Nikkor 105mm Micro lens and an old discontinued Nikon SB400 Speedlight mounted on a single arm Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket. The Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket allows me the flexibility to position the flash anywhere I desire for optimum lighting on the subject.

We are currently in the midst of planning our next event for the London, Ontario area, which will feature both dart frogs and an even larger selection of awesome tree frog species displayed on beautiful tropical flowers. These events will be planned as full day (8 hour) workshops that will include 3 hours of Photoshop instruction at the end. Yours truly will walk folks through the steps I use edit and optimize my frog photography. Folks will also be encouraged to bring their own laptops to the workshops so that I can assist them with editing and optimizing a few of their own image files.

Stay tuned for dates to be announced soon. If you would like to be added to the contact list for this or any other workshop notifications please do contact me by clicking here.

Here are a few of my recent captures from the recently concluded workshop.

Ameerega pepperi

 

Dendrobates tinctorius “Patricia”

 

Amazon Milk Frog (juvenile)

 

Red-eyed Tree Frog

 

Vietnamese Moss Frog

 

Abstract of Fringed Tree Frog Skin

 

Ranitomeya fantastica

 

Phyllobates terribilis

 

Vietnamese Moss Frog – a master of camouflage

Read Full Post »

Adelphobates galactonotus

Here are a few recently optimized dart frog images from one of our previous Dart Frogs of the Amazon Rainforest Photographic Workshop. Registration is open for the recently announced, first dates of 2018.  I was pleased to enroll a few more participants yesterday for the Sunday February 25th date. Effective today there is space for only one participant on Sunday February 24th and a few spaces available for Saturday February 25th. These workshops allow you to create stunning imagery of nature’s most colorful animals in a comfortable setting. It would cost tens of thousands of dollars in both travel expenses and the hiring of guides to be able to photograph a fraction of the varieties offered during these events.

For the February dates we are having three very special additions to our line-up. They are Red-eyed Tree Frogs, Brazilian Milk Frogs, and Vietnamese Moss Frogs.

To find out more about the workshop please click here and to register yourself for either or both dates please do so by clicking here.

 

Ranitomeya imitator

The Ranitomeya imitator are very small, and very colorful with bright iridescent markings. Interestingly enough the Ranitomeya imitator are completely harmless. They mimic the bright coloration of dart frogs to warn predators that maybe they should stay clear of them. Did you know that all species of dart frogs lose their toxicity in captivity? They require the ants and termites that they feed on in the wild to generate their deadly toxins. Each and every frog that is featured in these workshops is a captive-bred specimen. At no time do we ever use wild caught frogs.

Dendrobates auratus campana

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: