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Archive for the ‘Frogs and Toads’ Category

Crab Spider

Crab Spider on Ox-Daisy Blossom

Over the course of the last several months I have been using a Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2X Ultra Macro APO CA Dreamer lens that has been on loan to me from Venus Optics. As you read through this blog post you will learn my thoughts on this lens. In short, I was impressed enough with the lens that I purchased this loaner lens and promptly sold my workhorse Nikon 105mm f2.8D AF Micro-Nikkor.

Each image in this blog post is a single capture. No focus stacking techniques were deployed. Some images were photographed at 4X lifesize and this was accomplished by adding a Raynox DCR-250 Diopter to the front of the Laowa 100mm 2X Macro lens. All images, unless otherwise noted, were photographed handheld using the Meike MK-MT24 Flash Speedlite with 2.4G Wireless Trigger supported by a Wimberley dual arm F-2 Macro Bracket.

Gray Tree Frog (Dryophytes versicolor)

Gray Tree Frog chorusing at night

First and foremost, the full metal construction of the lens is in-line with the build quality of other Laowa lenses I own making them durable and able to stand the test of time. The CA Dreamer designation refers to the apochromatic design that significantly reduces, if not eliminates, chromatic aberration in both in-focus and out-of-focus areas of the image.

Robber Fly species

Robber Fly species with prey

The Laowa 100mm 2X Macro lens is a fully manual lens. There is no autofocus, no image stabilization, and the f-stop is selected by manually rotating the aperture ring to the desired setting. Being fully manual also means that no information will be transmitted to the camera, such as f-stop used. Do note that the Canon mount does not have an aperture ring as the f-stop can be selected by the camera. If you have grown accustomed to relying on autofocus and/or image stabilization you will have a bit of a learning curve on working with a manual macro lens. My first forays into macro photography were in the days of film whereby I used a Minolta X-700 with a Minolta 100mm Macro lens. It took me a couple of days to get back into the swing of manual focusing for macro work, as I had become reliant on autofocus, which can actually be a hindrance to successful macro photography.

Grasshopper

Grasshopper photographed at 4X lifesize with the Raynox DCR-250 Diopter attached

The “2X” designation for the lens refers to the ability to achieve twice lifesize at the minimum focusing distance of 9.7” which refers to the distance from the camera sensor to the subject. No other macro lens on the market today, in the 100mm range, offers the ability to achieve 2X magnification. I have often wished my old Nikon macro lens had the ability to focus closer than 1:1 magnification. At a very affordable price the Laowa 100mm 2X Macro lens provides twice lifesize and superb image quality.

Green Bottle Fly

Green Bottle Fly at 2X lifesize

The lens does come with a plastic lens hood, however, at 2X lifesize I recommend removing the lens hood as it will cast heavy shadow over subjects. I seldom use the lens hood because at infinity focus the front element of the lens is recessed in the lens barrel about 3 inches and moves towards the front of the lens barrel as you get closer to 2X lifesize. As a result, the lens barrel often acts as a lens hood.

Thistl-head Weevil (Rhinocyllus conicus)

Thistl-head Weevil (Rhinocyllus conicus) with Raynox DCR-250 Diopter attached

There is an optional tripod collar for the lens that can be purchased. I currently do not own the tripod collar, nor do I have any experience with using it. I have read some unfavorable reviews for the optional tripod collar, however, my thought on the tripod collar is that it may be a useful tool to support two flash units on small homemade brackets to keep the set-up compact rather than using brackets to hold flash units. I will provide an update on this after I have had time to test out my theory.

Baby Garden Spiders

Baby Garden Spiders with Raynox DCR-250 Diopter attached for 4X magnification

Venus Optics (Laowa) have clearly created another lens that offers superior image quality at a very affordable price point. I shudder to think what Canon, Sony, or Nikon would charge for a 100mm f2.8 2X Macro lens if they took the time to design one. Let’s compare pricing from Vistek and do note that the Laowa is the least expensive lens, offering superior results with the ability to capture subjects at twice lifesize:

  • Venus Optics Laowa 100mm f/2.8 2x Ultra Macro APO: $699.99 CAD
  • Sony FE 90mm Macro G OSS: $1499.99 CAD
  • Nikon Micro-Nikkor VR 105mm f/2.8: $1129.99 CAD
  • Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro IS USM: $1199.99 CAD
  • Sigma 105mm f/2.8 EX DG OS HSM Macro: $769.99 CAD
Stink Bug nymph

Stink Bug nymph at 2X lifesize

I am often asked how I am able to manually focus on such tiny critters. It is not as hard as it looks when you practice and perfect good macro techniques. I tend to predetermine the magnification I desire for an intended subject. The next step is to use myself as a human focusing rail and slowly move in and out until sharp focus is achieved. I strongly recommend using inanimate objects placed on the kitchen table as practice subjects.

Green Burgundy Stink Bug (Banasa dimidiata)

Green Burgundy Stink Bug (Banasa dimidiata)

Another techniques I will often use if the subject is cooperative is to physically hold the leaf or stem the subject is on and move it towards the lens until sharp focus is achieved. By utilizing this technique I often find that I am able to support the front of the lens on my left hand for added support, especially when photographing at 4 times lifesize!

Gray Wall Jumping Spider (Menemerus bivittatus)

Gray Wall Jumping Spider at 2X lifesize

The Gray Wall Jumping Spider above was discovered on the brickwork of my home. I carefully encourage it to climb onto a small twig that I could have more control over and move towards the lens until the spider’s eyes became sharp in the viewfinder. After grabbing a few quick images I let the spider go back to its business on the brickwork of my home.

Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle (Labidomera clivicollis)

Swamp Milkweed Leaf Beetle at 2X lifesize

Many of these images were created during self-isolating on my half acre country home. It is quite amazing what can be found hiding in plain sight when we take the time to explore the microcosm

Ambush Bug with prey

Ambush Bug with prey at 2X lifesize

The Ambush Bug above was preoccupied with its prey and the Milkweed Beetles below were preoccupied with each other and this allowed me to use my technique of holding the stem and leaf to take better control of the situation and to focus more easily on the insects.

Red Milkweed Beetle (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus)

Red Milkweed Beetle (Tetraopes tetrophthalmus)

Since many of my images were being photographed at either 2X or 4X lifesize I did select an aperture of f22 for maximum depth of field. I think you would agree that the lens performs very well stopped down 🙂

Lichens

Lichens photographed using ambient light and tripod

Having a lens such as the Laowa 100mm 2X Macro in your gear bag will allow you the luxury of being able to photograph tight details, itty bitty critters, or large animals such as the portrait of the 3 foot Ball Python below.

Royal python (Python regius) - captive bred

Royal Python (Python regius) – captive bred

Below is a single frame at 2X lifesize of a butterfly wing. While photographing the fine details of the butterfly wing, even at f22 it was critical to keep the the sensor plane parallel to the wing to ensure sharp focus throughout the image, otherwise the delete key would have been utilized 🙂

Papilio multicaudata (Mexico)Dead specimen from private collection

Papilio multicaudata (Mexico) Dead specimen from private collection

A couple of nights ago at dusk I lucked out and found a Gray Wall Jumping Spider exploring the lichen encrusted bark of one of my large Silver Maple trees. Rather than go in for the tighter images I deliberately stepped back to create a scene that illustrates the spider’s ability to blend in to its surroundings.

Gray Wall Jumping Spider (Menemerus bivittatus)

Gray Wall Jumping Spider camouflaged on tree trunk

As I mentioned in the opening paragraph of this post I loved the Laowa 100mm f2.8 2X Macro APO lens so much that I purchased it and sold my Nikon 105mm Micro lens. This is my third Laowa lens that I have added to my gear bag. First was the incredible 15mm 1;1 Wide Angle Macro that allows me to capture my signature frog-scapes. The second Laowa lens added was the 12mm Zero D lens, which quickly became my workhorse lens for both landscapes and architectural photography. If you are intrigued by the Laowa 100mm 2X Macro please consider purchasing the lens through my affiliate link by clicking here.

Leafhopper nymph - Coelidia olitoria

Leafhopper nymph with Raynox DCR-250 Diopter attached for 4X magnification

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Dednrobates tinctorius - captive

The next Frogs of the World Photographic Workshop will be held on Saturday March 14, 2020 at Lifelike Imaging in Mississauga, Ontario (10:00 am to 3:00 pm)

The space for this 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 in Canada whereby you will be able to capture stunning imagery of 15 – 20 different species of frogs and toads from all over the world. We will be photographing numerous varieties of dart frogs endemic to the Amazon rainforest, and several other species of frogs from Costa Rica, South America, and Madagascar. It would cost tens of thousands of dollars to explore the jungles of the world, with hired guides, 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, pleasing studio set-ups.

Epipedobates tricolor

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. A note about flash use; you should possess a basic understanding of how to operate your flash and make +/- adjustments to flash output.

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

La Palma Glass Frog (Hyalinbatrachium valerioi) - captive

To register for this workshop contact me by clicking here .

Payments can be made via email transfer or by cheque made payable to Andrew McLachlan.

Hope to see you there!

The one day cost of the workshop is $195 CDN plus applicable taxes ($195 +$25.35 HST = $220.35 CDN).

Cancellation Policy:

31 days prior to workshop date 50% refund

30 days prior to workshop date no refund

Ranitomeya imitator 'nominal' - captive

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Wimberley F-2 Dual Arm Set Up With AP7 Cold Shoes_9950

Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket Dual Arm Set-up with AP-7 Cold Shoe Flash Adapters Attached

Several years ago I did a review of the Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket Single Arm Set-up, which can be found by clicking here. I do stand by my comments from 2012 that this is by far the best design and the most user friendly macro flash bracket on the market today! Fast forward to today and Wimberley have created a new lighter version of the F-2 Macro Bracket and it is just a sturdy as the original design. Please do note that the F-2 Macro Brackets configured into the dual arm set-up pictured above are attached to a M-8 Perpendicular Plate. Wimberley have also developed and released the optional AP-7 Cold Shoe Flash Adapter that enables rapid attachment of flashes to the brackets. In nature photography being able to move quickly can mean the difference in getting or missing the shot.

AP7 Cold Shoe Flash Adapters_9953

Wimberley AP-7 Cold Shoe Flash Adapters

In the photo below you can see my personal set-up using the Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket Dual Arm Set-up with the Meike MK-MT24 Dual Flash Speedlight Trigger. Each of the two flashes have a homemade diffuser affixed to them. These diffusers were made from two small Rubbermaid containers, lined with foil and 3 layers of polystyrene foam sheeting to effectively diffuse the light emitted from the flash tubes.

Dual Macro Flash Set Up_9942

My Wimberley Dual Arm Set-up using the Meike Dual Macro Flash System

This dual flash set-up is now my go-to system for photographing invertebrates as it provides a beautiful even light around the subjects without any distracting shadows, which is often results when using a single speedlight. I can easily revert this set-up back to a single arm set-up for photographing frogs. The flexibility of the Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket Dual Arm Set-up allows me to position the speedlights in any manner that I desire, to create the lighting I want. This feature is indispensable when the speedlights may need to be positioned around objects that may otherwise block the light emitted from the flash, or when you may wish to have one flash illuminate the subject while the second flash illuminates more of the background. The possibilities for enhanced creativity are endless with this design. This flexibility is the result of the clamshell locking mechanisms. The clamshell locking design of the F-2 brackets also allows me to ‘fold’ the brackets so that they fit into my gear bag effortlessly. The AP-7 Cold Shoe Flash Adapters allow me to quickly attach my wireless flash heads or sync cord by means of the thumbscrew locking mechanism.

Below is a selection of imagery recently created using the Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket Dual Arm Set-up with the AP-7 Cold Shoe Adpaters to securely hold the Meike MK-MT24 Dual Speedlights. As you can see in the Tan Jumping Spider images there are two catchlights in the eyes, but I find these to be acceptable for invertebrate photography. When photographing frogs however, I do find the presence of two catchlights to be very distracting. As a result, in each of the frog photos below I have evicted one cathclight from each eye for a more pleasing look.

Tan Jumping Spider (Platycryptus undatus)

Tan Jumping Spider (Platycryptus undatus)

La Palma Glass Frog_2667

La Palma Glass Frog (Hyalinobatrachium valerioi) – captive

Argentine Horned Frog_2647

Argentine Horned Frog (Ceratophrys ornata) – captive

Madagascar Rain Frog_2645

Madagascar Rain Frog (Scaphiophryne madagascariensis) – captive

Tan Jumping Spider (Platycryptus undatus)

Tan Jumping Spider (Platycryptus undatus)

The new lightweight design of the Wimberley F-2 Macro Brackets configured into a dual arm set-up is an integral part of my macro photography now and I cannot wait for the invertebrates to emerge from hibernation in the spring so that I can get out and photograph the wealth of subject matter that will be available.

All of today’s featured images were photographed using a Nikon D500 with a Nikkor f2.8 105mm Micro Lens (non-VR version) with the exception of the Tan Jumping Spiders whereby I affixed a Raynox DCR-250 Diopter to the Nikkor 105mm Micro Lens for added magnification. The Meike MK-MT24 Speedlights were affixed to the Wimberley F-2 Macro Brackets configured into the dual arm set-up by means of the AP-7 Cold Shoe Flash Adapters.

If you are interested in photographing macro subjects in nature with a dual flash system I highly recommend using the Wimberley F-2 Macro Brackets configured into the dual arm set-up. The sturdy, lightweight design and the simplicity of positioning flash heads allows me to concentrate on my photography and not with the frustrations associated with cheaper, inferior products.

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Frogs of the World Photographic Workshop

The next Frogs of the World Photographic Workshop will be held on Saturday December 7, 2019 at Lifelike Imaging in Mississauga, Ontario (10:00 am to 3:00 pm)

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

Please note that this will be the last Frogs of the World Photographic Workshop for 2019

These are the only workshops available in Canada whereby you will be able to capture stunning imagery of 15 – 20 different species of frogs and toads from all over the world. We will be photographing numerous varieties of dart frogs endemic to the Amazon rainforest, and several other species of frogs from Costa Rica, South America, and Madagascar. It would cost tens of thousands of dollars to explore the jungles of the world, with hired guides, 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, pleasing 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. A note about flash use; you should possess a basic understanding of how to operate your flash and make +/- adjustments to flash output.

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

To register for this workshop contact me by clicking here .

Payments can be made via email transfer or by cheque made payable to Andrew McLachlan.

Hope to see you there!

The one day cost of the workshop is $195 CDN plus applicable taxes.

Cancellation Policy:

No Refunds

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Focus on Frogs-1

My long anticipated eBook on frog photography has just been released by Birds As Art Books and is available for purchase by clicking here. This extensive resource is 246 pages in length and is illustrated with approximately 250 photographs.

Product Description by Arthur Morris from the BAA On-line Store:

As you can clearly see while checking out Andrew’s amazing frog and toad images in the blog post here, you will realize that his work might well appear with the credit line reading Andrew McLachlan/FROGS AS ART. That Andrew has worked long and very hard at his craft is quite evident. That Andrew has mastered the use of the gear needed for macro photography is quite evident. That Andrew has perfected the use of electronic flash for both daytime and night-time frog photography is quite evident. That Andrew is creative and has a great eye for image design and color is quite evident. That Andrew has an understanding of how important backgrounds are in nature photography is quite evident. And that Andrew has developed all the skills needed to create outstanding images of frogs and toads – both captive and in their natural habitats, is also quite evident. In short, Andrew is the Frog Whisperer.

Focus on Frogs is a comprehensive guide to photographing frogs and toads. In the wild; in the tropics; in home-made terrariums; and at set-ups. Andrew covers it all: camera systems, bodies, and lenses (of all focal lengths!), the use of polarizers and graduated ND filters, how to dress for frog photography, the essentials accessories that will save you time and money, the use of flash, keeping you and your gear safe, in-the-field tips and techniques, finding the best perspective, Photoshop tips and techniques, frog conservation concerns, all aspects of froggy habitats, getting the right exposure, frog biology and behavior, creating attractive set-ups, over-under frog photography, and artistic renderings. The book ends with a spectacular Webfoot Gallery to inspire you.

 

 

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Water Lilies in wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

Water Lilies in Wetland, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

All good things come to an end eventually. On July 31, 2019 I bid farewell to the family cottage on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario as it was sold to new owners. I will miss the area dearly as it is where my love of nature photography took hold. It is where I began to explore woodlands, beaver ponds, and wetlands to gain the knowledge that has allowed me to photograph many of my most cherished images. It is also the place where I perfected my Bullfrog-scapes

After spending a couple of weeks there prior to the closing date of the sale I was lucky enough to be graced with numerous photographic opportunities, so there will be plenty more images to share in the coming weeks. During these two weeks it felt like all the wildlife I photographed over the years had come to bid farewell as I had so many amazing close-up encounters with many of the species that inhabit the lake, and surrounding forest.

I hope to return to the area at least once a year to continue to document the wildlife in the large wetland near the cottage property and to continue my explorations of the small lakes hidden in the forest, but for now here is a selection of imagery that I created during my last two weeks at the cottage. I do have many, many more unprocessed image files from Horseshoe Lake that I will continue to share as time and temperment allow 🙂

Sadly, after 35 years, this chapter of my life has come to an end. However, as one chapter closes another will open and it only takes one step to start that journey.

Stay tuned

Bullfrog_1847

Bullfrog in wetland habitat, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

 

Eastern Painted Turtle (Chrysemys picta), Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

Eastern Painted Turtle, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Horseshoe Lake_4124

Wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Green Darner_573

Green Darner Dragonfly, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Common Loon (Gavia immer)

Common Loon, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Tree Swallows_9877

Tree Swallows, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Horseshoe Lake_4081

Wetland on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Bullfrog_1782-1

Over-under Bullfrog, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Common Merganser_0364

Common Merganser, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

Milky Way, Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

Milky Way over Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

 

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Phyllobates terribilis_8368

Phyllobates terribilis – captive bred

Yesterday, Saturday June 8th Understory Enterprises and yours truly hosted another sold out Frogs of the World Photographic Workshop at the Crinan Community Hall near West Lorne, Ontario. Everybody had a great time and captured many stunning images of the numerous species that were featured. We had two new species to highlight during this recently concluded workshop. An Argentine Horned Frog and a Madagascar Painted Frog.

Madagascar Painted Frog_8393

Madagascar Painted Frog – captive bred

 

Argentine Horned Frog_8425

Argentine Horned Frog – captive bred

 

Ameerega Bassleri_8382

Ameerega bassleri – captive bred

 

Cruziohyla craspedopus_8462

Fringed Leaf Frog – captive bred

 

Phyllobates terribilis_8480

Phyllobates terribilis – captive bred

 

Epipedobates anthonyii_8388

Epipedobates anthonyi – captive bred

 

Argentine Horned Frog_8434

Argentine Horned Frog – captive bred

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Frogs of the World Photographic Workshop

The next Frogs of the World Photographic Workshop has been confirmed and will be held at the Crinan Community Hall in Dutton, Ontario on the following dates:

Saturday, June 8, 2019  (10:00a.m. – 3:00 p.m.)  (SOLD OUT – wait list only)

The space for this 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, and several tree frogs of Costa Rica and South America. It would cost tens of thousands of dollars to explore the jungles of the world, with hired guides, 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.

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

To register for this workshop contact me by clicking here .

Payments can be made via email transfer or by cheque made payable to Andrew McLachlan.

Hope to see you there!

The one day cost of the workshop is $195 CDN plus taxes.

Cancellation Policy:

No Refunds

Read Full Post »

Peru 2019

Explore the foothills of the Andes Mountains among Peru’s Cordillera Escalera within the Amazon Rainforest this October. We require a minimum of 2 participants to make this photo tour run.

For further information on this once in a lifetime opportunity please click here. Any additional questions please do email me here so that I can be of assistance to you 🙂

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Red-eyed Tree Frog_3529

Red-eye Tree Frog – captive bred

On Saturday February 16th we held another highly successful and sold out Frogs of the World Photographic Workshop with 8 fabulous participants. Several of those participants were repeat students. During these workshops with captive bred specimens we use set-ups that mimic the natural habitat of the frogs in the wild for a truly realistic appearance.

Each image that appears in this post utilizes my homemade flash diffuser that was the highlight of the This Might Just Be The Best Flash Diffuser Ever blog post and post processing techniques employ light use of luminosity masking techniques by using the TK Basic V6 Action Panel by Tony Kuyper

To find out more about future Frogs of the World Photographic Workshops please click here and to be added to the contact list for upcoming events please send me an email  by clicking here

Ranitomeya vanzolinni - captive bred

Ranitomeya vanzolinni – captive bred

 

Cruziohyla craspedopus_3543

Fringed Leaf Frog – captive bred

 

Dendrobates auratus microspot albino

Dendrobates auratus microspot ablino – captive bred

 

Oophaga sylvatica_3512

Oophaga sylvatica – captive bred

 

Vietnamese Moss Frog_3471

Vietnamese Mossy Frog – captive bred

 

Vietnamese Moss Frog_3489

Vietnamese Mossy Frog Abstract – captive bred

 

Cruziohyla craspedopus_3553

Fringed Leaf Frog – captive bred

 

Ranitomeya vanzolinni_3523

Ranitomeya vanzolinni – captive bred

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