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Archive for the ‘Animals’ Category

Common Snapping Turtle Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR Lens Nikon Circular Polarizing Filter ISO 800, f11 @ 1/320

Common Snapping Turtle
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR Lens
Nikon Circular Polarizing Filter
Handheld at ISO 800, f11 @ 1/320

A couple of weeks ago while I was in search of Bullfrogs in the wetland on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario I came upon a very cooperative Common Snapping Turtle basking in the sun on a partially water-logged white pine tree trunk. Several years ago this large white pine trunk became stuck near the entrance to the wetland, but this past winter / spring it has moved deeper into the wetland to a location that is sure to find it being used by several species of turtles and watersnakes. I am eagerly awaiting my next extended stay at the lake to try for more reptile images.

Common Snapping Turtles are usually difficult to approach as they will often retreat into the water at first sight. I made a slow and cautious approach in my canoe hoping not to disturb the turtle and every few feet I would stop to create a few images. Do note in the above photo I used my Nikon Polarizing Filter to cut the glare from the vegetation as well as the turtle’s shell. I soon came to realize that this particular turtle was being very cooperative, so I proceeded a little closer. Soon I had pulled the canoe right up alongside of the turtle and yet it remained undisturbed. I quickly switched out my Nikon 80-400mm VR Lens for my Nikon 18-35mm Lens to create an up-close and personal wide-angle view, and employed my Live View technique that has often worked well for frog-scapes. While using the Live View feature on my Nikon D800 I will lean out over the side of the canoe and hold the camera very close to the water’s surface to get a very low perspective. Using the virtual horizon in Live View will assist in keeping the resulting photos square with the world.

The only thing that kinda bugs me about these snapping turtle photos is the very large bloodsucker that can be seen on the turtle’s left cheek :)

Do remember to click on each of the photos to see the larger, sharper version.

Common Snapping Turtle Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm Lens @ 35mm Handheld at ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1000

Common Snapping Turtle
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm Lens @ 35mm
Handheld at ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1000

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Amazon Milk Frog Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens Nikon Speedlight SB400 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket ISO 100, f16 @ 1/60

Amazon Milk Frog
Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens
Nikon Speedlight SB400 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
ISO 100, f16 @ 1/60

A few months ago there was a wonderful exhibit of tropical frogs at Ontario’s Royal Botanical Gardens in Burlington. One day in April I made a trip out to see and photograph some of the species that were on display. Photographing such animals through the glass walls of their enclosures can often be a bit troublesome due to finger prints and scratches on the glass, however, there are few simple techniques that can be employed for success. When I photograph captive subjects through the glass walls of their enclosures I will always get as close to the glass as possible to eliminate / reduce the risk of scratches and fingerprints from showing up in the resulting images. To get as close to the glass as possible I ensure that I am using my rubber lens hood so that I do not become one of those individuals that has left unsightly scratches on the enclosures. A relatively large rubber lens hood aligned flush with the glass wall of the enclosure will often reduce the risk of the flash from reflecting off the glass, ruining the photos when it fires.

Rubber Lens Hood on Nikon 105mm Micro Lens

Rubber Lens Hood on Nikon 105mm Micro Lens

At public exhibits I often find it too difficult to work with a tripod, mostly due to the number of visitors and elementary school class trips that attend. As a result I do much prefer to work with flash and when I photogenic subject and pose is noticed I can then quickly grab a few photos without affecting the other visitors that are also there.

Dendrobates auratus Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens Nikon Speedlight SB400 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60

Dendrobates auratus
Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens
Nikon Speedlight SB400 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60

For the image above of the Dendrobates auratus I was able to get a very low perspective and a pleasing background by placing the lens flush with the glass wall at the moment the dart frog jumped to the front of the enclosure. Dart frogs are often very quick and sometime difficult to photograph, but this image gives the impression that I am lying flat on the ground in their rainforest home, yet I was dry and comfy :)

African Bullfrog Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens Nikon Speedlight SB400 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60

African Bullfrog
Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens
Nikon Speedlight SB400 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60

Pictured above is an African Bullfrog. What is not to love about a frog with teeth! These frogs will eat anything they can stuff in their mouths from insects to full grown mice. You will notice that in this image the camera was pointed downwards, with the lens close to the glass and in a downward postion the flash will not reflect back into the resulting images, however, if I tried the same perspective after taking a few steps backwards the flash would be noticeable and the images would be deleted.

Argentine Horned Frog Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Lens Nikon Speedlight SB400 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60

Argentine Horned Frog
Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Lens
Nikon Speedlight SB400 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60

Warty skinned frogs such as the above Argentine Horned Frog do pose some challenges with flash generated spectral highlights. In Photoshop I will often evict the most noticeably distracting highlights, for many of the smaller ones as seen above I will open Selective Color and add a touch of Black to the White channel which tones them down a bit.

Waxy Monkey Treefrog Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens Nikon Speedlight SB400 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket ISO 100, f16 @ 1/60

Waxy Monkey Treefrog
Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens
Nikon Speedlight SB400 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
ISO 100, f16 @ 1/60

Treefrog specimens are usually very uncooperative subjects as they are mostly nocturnal so when one is encountered alert and wide-eyed grab as many photos as you can because they will probably go back to sleep very soon.

Below is a Fire-belly Toad which is an Asiatic species and very common in the pet trade. Believe it or not I actually used to keep Fire-belly Toads in a large terrarium many years ago and they lived for roughly 21 years.

Fire-belly Toad Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens Nikon Speedlight SB400 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket ISO 100, f16 @ 1/60

Fire-belly Toad
Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens
Nikon Speedlight SB400 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
ISO 100, f16 @ 1/60

After photographing many of these wonderful frog species from around the globe in a single afternoon I thought it would be fun to take one of the images and create a frog fract using the Photoshop plug-in Fractalius. Below is a Goliath Frog skeleton. The Goliath Frog is the largest frog in the world, they live alongside streams and such in Cameron, in Africa.

Please do remember to click on each of the images to see the larger, sharper versions :)

Goliath Frog Skeleton Fractalius Rendering

Goliath Frog Skeleton
Fractalius Rendering

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Hurricane Crab Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 80mm ISO 100, f25 @ 1/60 sec. Canon 500D Close-up Filter Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

Hurricane Crab
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 80mm
ISO 100, f25 @ 1/60 sec.
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

With this post I unveil my new logo that now occupies the header section of the blog. Hope y’all like it :)

As mentioned in the previous post, I had several unsuccessful nights of searching for and photographing frogs while on the island of Cayman Brac. These nights were not wasted though. While exploring the understory of the seagrape trees I encountered numerous Soldier Crabs and Hurricane Crabs. I quickly noted that these crabs were very sensitive to the light from my flashlight. Often if too much light fell upon them they would immediately and quickly head for cover. A slow, cautious approach and careful use of the flashlight allowed me to get in low and close for the imagery I had hoped for. The Hurricane Crabs were very large with their bodies being roughly four inches across. Mostly they were a purplish-red color but I did encounter one specimen that had olive to yellowish coloration.

Hurricane Crab Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 85mm Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket Canon 500D Close-up Filter ISO 100, f18 @ 1/60 sec

Hurricane Crab
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 85mm
Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
ISO 100, f18 @ 1/60 sec

Hurricane Crab Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 92mm Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket Canon 500D Close-up Filter ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Hurricane Crab
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 92mm
Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

The other type of crab that was most often encountered during my night time excursions for frog imagery was the Soldier Cab, which is a type of land hermit crab. They varied in size greatly with some having very small shells and others having very large shells. They most often are seen using abandoned whelk shells for their homes. Again these crabs were also sensitive to the light from my flashlight, but careful use also allowed the opportunity for some interesting imagery, particularly when I found a lone Soldier Crab walking along a very thin branch – almost like walking a tight-rope.

Soldier Crab Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 165mm Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket Canon 500D Close-up Filter ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Soldier Crab
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 165mm
Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

As with the Cuban Treefrog images in the previous post note that I have once again used the Canon 500D Close-up Filter on my Nikon 80-400mm VR lens. This is the combination that I always use when traveling. It is a very convenient solution for quality close-up photography and also helps to reduce the overall weight of gear to carry onto an aircraft or out into the field.

Do remember to click on each of the photos to see the larger, sharper version and if you feel so inclined, let me know which is your favorite image :)

Soldier Crab Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400 mm VR @ 210mm Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket Canon 500D Close-up Filter ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Soldier Crab
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400 mm VR @ 210mm
Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Soldier Crab Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 220mm Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket Canon 500D Close-up Filter ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Soldier Crab
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 220mm
Nikon Speedlight SB600 on Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

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Daybreak at Pollard Bay on Cayman Brac Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm ISO 100, f16 @ 1 second Singh-Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

Daybreak at Pollard Bay on Cayman Brac
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm lens @ 18mm
ISO 100, f16 @ 1 second
Singh-Ray 3-Stop Reverse Graduated Neutral Density Filter

I returned from my 14 day stay on the Caribbean island of Cayman Brac late on March 19th. Since my return I have been busy getting caught up on various things and processing a few of my initial favorites, from the vast number of images created during the trip. Today’s post will highlight my most favorite photos from the trip and in subsequent posts I will get into the nitty-gritty of what worked, what didn’t work, and the techniques used to create the images.

During my trip there were many lovely sunrises, a few nice sunsets, lots of Brown Booby chicks, reptiles, amphibians, and it seemed like with each day of snorkeling, which was everyday, I found something really cool to photograph in the ocean too :)

Here are a few images from this recent trip to Cayman Brac.

Please do remember to click on each of the images to see the larger, sharper version. Hope ya like ’em :)

Male Brown Booby with Chick Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 400mm ISO 400, f16 @ 1/320 sec.

Male Brown Booby with Chick
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 400mm
ISO 400, f16 @ 1/320 sec.

Hurricane Crab Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 80mm ISO 100, f25 @ 1/60 sec. Canon 500D Close-up Filter

Hurricane Crab
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 80mm
ISO 100, f25 @ 1/60 sec.
Canon 500D Close-up Filter

Cuban Treefrog Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 195mm ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60sec Canon 500D Close-up Filter

Cuban Treefrog
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 195mm
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60sec
Canon 500D Close-up Filter

The Bat Cave Nikon D800, Sigma f2.8 EX DG 15mm Fisheye Lens ISO 100, f16 @ 0.6 sec.

The Bat Cave
Nikon D800, Sigma f2.8 EX DG 15mm Fisheye Lens
ISO 100, f16 @ 0.6 sec.

Octopus Sony RX100 @ 10.4mm (28mm equivlent) ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1000 sec

Octopus
Sony RX100 @ 10.4mm (28mm equivlent)
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1000 sec

Rock Iguana Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 390mm ISO 100, f8 @ 1/800 sec

Rock Iguana
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR lens @ 390mm
ISO 100, f8 @ 1/800 sec

Stonefish Sony RX100 @ 10.4mm (28mm equivalent) ISO 400, f8 @ 1/500 sec.

Stonefish
Sony RX100 @ 10.4mm (28mm equivalent)
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/500 sec.

 

 

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Bullfrog_1431

Bullfrog at Dusk. Nikon D800 & Nikon 105mm Micro Lens

The winning images were announced a couple of weeks ago for the BBC Wildlife Photographer of the Year Competition and I thought I would take a moment to share two of my entries that proceeded to the final round of judging. Unfortunately, that is where this story ends but nonetheless I was thrilled that two of my both Bullfrog photos created in my favorite wetland at my family cottage on Horseshoe Lake, near Parry Sound, Ontario had made it to the final round in this prestigious competition.

To view the Grand Prize winning image and to see the category winners for both the adult and young awards click here and follow the links to the corresponding galleries. And do remember to click on each image to see the larger, sharper version.

Bullfrog in Wetland - Nikon D800 & Nikon 18-35mm

Frog-scape – Nikon D800 & Nikon 18-35mm

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Bullfrog at Dawn on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

Bullfrog at Dawn on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

During my last round of trips to photograph the Bullfrogs on Horseshoe Lake in Ontario’s Parry Sound region I was under close watch by one member of the resident beaver family that resides in the marsh. In fact, the Bullfrogs most often hang out in very close proximity to the active beaver lodge. Each evening as I would arrive at the wetland to photograph the frogs the beaver would swim out of the lodge and feast on the stems of the yellow pond lily leaves while seemingly watching my every move. I did think that the beaver was behaving a little differently than usual. Nonetheless I happily photographed the bullfrogs and was even lucky enough to catch an ambient light image of one of the males with it’s vocal sac inflated, and I love the blurred effect of the water beside the vibrating vocal sac.

Bullfrog_350

Bullfrog Chorusing

I was also able to work on some more of my frog-scapes with my Nikon 18-35mm lens, which quickly became my favorite lens for such imagery. The easiest and most effective way to create frog-scapes is to use a wide-angle lens with the Live View feature that is available on DSLRs today. I like to use a bubble level in the camera’s hot-shoe to ensure all is square with the world as well.

Bullfrog at Dusk on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

Bullfrog at Dusk on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

On the week I departed from the cottage on Horseshoe Lake my brother Gregg had shown up to spend a week at the lake. A couple of days later he sent me a text message to inform me to be very careful of the beavers in the marsh. The large male beaver (see image below) charged my brother in the canoe as well as a couple of kids that were also nearby. As it turns out the beaver pups were now old enough to leave the den for under the protective eyes of their parents. Beavers can be very dangerous animals and should not be under-estimated. In May 2013, a Russian fisherman was killed when a beaver attacked him and severed a major artery. When I travel north to the cottage again next week I will need to be very careful of the beavers and be mindful of there whereabouts while I am with the Bullfrog.

Beaver in Wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

Beaver in Wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

Please remember to click on each of the photos to see the larger, sharper version.

 

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White Horse in fog, Milton, Ontario, Canada

White Horse in fog, Milton, Ontario, Canada

Today’s post features a few images that were created over the last couple of years. Living in a rural region of Ontario I often stop to photograph horses when the conditions are optimum or when neighbors ask me if I have time to take a few photographs of their horses. The above image of the horse in the fog was created last fall after I spent the better part of my morning photographing rusty old wrecks with Denise Ippolito and the Toronto Digital Photography Club – who can resist a white horse in fog :)

Horses in fog, Milton, Ontario, Canada

Horses in fog, Milton, Ontario, Canada

The foggy conditions of that morning were quite special and in the above image I liked the contrast between these two horses and the fog. A touch of Nik’s Detail Extractor was used to bring out a little detail in the trees behind the horses.

Horse_8827

Above and below are some portraits of a neighbor’s horses. In the images below I could resist the temptation to apply an artistic rendering to them.

Foal - Topaz Simplify

Foal – Topaz Simplify

Horse Portrait - Fractalius

Horse Portrait – Fractalius

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

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