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Archive for the ‘Reptiles and Amphibians’ Category

 

Two spaces have just opened up for the Saturday, August 19th Dart Frogs of the Amazon Rainforest Photographic Workshop. One lucky participant will walk away with an awesome door prize graciously supplied by Wimberley. To find out more information about the workshop please click here and contact me here to arrange payment via email transfer or by cheque and reserve your spot. It would take tens of thousands of dollars to explore the rainforest to photograph a fraction of the species that you will be able to photograph on this date in the comfort of the Crinan Community Centre located near London, Ontario. Hope to see you there!

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Juvenile Eastern Painted Turtle, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm lens at 500mm (35mm equivalent = 750mm)
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/250 sec
B&W Polarizing Filter

Try as I may I have yet to find any Bullfrogs within the wetland at my cottage on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario. To date I have heard all but one male Bullfrog chorusing so far this season but locating him is another matter altogether. I believe the difficulty in finding the Bullfrogs may have something to do with the very cool and late start of the growing season as the waterlilies are well behind schedule in terms of water surface coverage and blooming. The lake level is also considerably higher this year, by as much as one foot. It is possible that the Bullfrogs are seeking refuge in the dense thickets of leatherleaf that surround the wetland edges and will emerge out into the more open areas of the wetland when the waterlilies provide more coverage.

On a recent exploration of the wetland I did however have the good fortune of locating some very co-operative turtles and water snakes. On one outing I located 12 Northern Water Snakes basking on a beaver lodge! The highlight of my excursions was finding a juvenile Eastern Painted Turtle that was small enough to be sunning on a yellow pond lily leaf. To create the opening photo I chose a low perspective by seating myself in the bottom of the canoe and carefully framed the scene to ensure I maintained the turtle’s reflection in the slice of open water between two lily pad leaves. By resting the lens on the gunwale of the canoe I was able to gain the additional support for this handheld capture. A polarizing filter is pretty much a necessity when photographing basking turtles to eliminate the unwanted glare from the vegetation and the turtle’s carapace, they are also very useful for eliminating the undesirable glare from the scales of snakes. My choice of polarizing filter for use on the Nikkor 200-500mm VR Lens is the B&W 95mm F-Pro Kaesemann High Transmission Circular Polarizing MRC Filter.

Snapping Turtle, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 340mm (35mm equivalent = 540mm)
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/125 sec.
B&W Polarizing Filter

The Common Snapping Turtle above was photographed in the exact same manner as the juvenile Eastern Painted Turtle although a passing cloud thankfully provided some temporary over-cast conditions, which eliminated the harsh shadows that were being cast from upward pointing branches on the log. Whenever I locate an overly co-operative subject such as this large snapping turtle I put away my long lens after creating a few images and reach for my wide angle lenses for an unique perspective as shown below.

Snapping Turtle-scape, Horseshoe Lake Wetland, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikkor 18-35mm lens @ 35mm
ISO 800, f16 @ 1/50 sec
Nikon Polarizing Filter

 

Snapping Turtle, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikkor 24-85mm lens @ 78mm
ISO 400, f16 @ 1/200 sec

Below are two Northern Water Snake images that were captured over the course of the last two weekends. The first water snake was discovered within the wetland complex at rest among the branches of a beaver lodge while the second was found resting on a rock beside my dock in late evening light. Each of these images makes use of killer features found on the Nikon D500. In the first image I could not get in as close I was wanted to due to the branches extending out into the water. The work around was to select the Nikon D500’s 1.3X sensor crop and presto – I had the composition I desired. Once again, seating myself in the canoe and using the gunwale to provide additional support and activating the Vibration Reduction on the Nikkor 200-500mm lens I was able to handhold the shot at the 35mm equivalent of a 1,000mm lens!

Northern Water Snake, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500 (35mm equivalent = 1000mm)
ISO 500, f8 @ 1/160 sec
B&W Polarizing Filter

Often I will venture down to the dock in the evening to see what critters have begun to emerge and was delighted to find the water snake at rest on the rock beside the dock. The only way to effectively photograph the snake was to get into the water. Due to the fading light, hand-holding the image was going to be impossible so I set-up my tripod in the lake allowing me to mount my camera and lens just above the water’s surface. Once again I was wanting to create a slight tighter composition so I set the 1.3X sensor crop. To deal with the low light and slow shutter speed I set my self-timer to 2 seconds, activated the Live View feature, and since the Nikon D500’s LCD screen is a touch screen you can actually touch the screen where you want it to focus. Once focus is achieved an image will be captured. In this case, I touched the LCD screen where the snake’s right eye is and two seconds later the camera recorded the image you see below.

Northern Water Snake, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (35mm equivalent = 1000mm)
ISO 500, f11 @ 1/15 sec

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

 

 

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Due to the very successful, first-ever Dart Frogs of the Amazon Rainforest Photographic Workshop in May I will be hosting two photographic workshops, with new species of dart frogs in each session, in August at the Crinan Community Centre located at 13568 Dunborough Line in West Elgin, Ontario, located near London, Ontario.

The dates and times for these workshops are:

Saturday, August 19, 2017  10:00a.m. – 3:00 p.m.  (SOLD OUT – wait list)

Sunday, August 20, 2017       10:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. (SOLD OUT – wait list)

The space for each workshop is limited to a maximum of 8 participants to allow ample time for folks to photograph each species. Each workshop will feature different species and colour varieties of dart frogs.

These are the only workshops available whereby you will be able to capture stunning imagery of 15 different species of dart frogs endemic to the Amazon rainforest. It would cost tens of thousands of dollars to explore the Amazon jungle 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 species of dart frogs for only $195, plus HST, 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 provide custom made flash diffusers that will allow folks to capture equally stunning imagery using camera mounted flash as well.

Please note: folks wishing to sign up for both dates will receive a 15% discount, which works out to $339.13 plus HST to attend both sessions.

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

To register for this workshop folks may contact me by clicking here for availability.

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

Hope to see you there!

 

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Phyllobates terribilis (mint)
©Martina Schneider

Today’s post features  several images from some of the participants that attended the first ever Dart Frogs of the Amazon Rainforest Photographic Workshop.  I think you will agree with me that they all did a fantastic job of creating many stunning images. As you scroll down through the images do note the captions to see which participant created each photo and please do click on the photos to see the larger versions. In the opening photo Martina Schneider did an absolutely amazing job of capturing the image of the Phyllobates terribilis from a very low perspective – a frog’s eye view if you will 🙂

Ranitomeya ventrimaculata
©Paul Infelise

Paul Infelise also used a very low perspective to capture a stunning image of the Ranitomeya ventrimaculata revealing the stunning colouration of the frog’s underside.

Ranitomeya fantastica
©Laurie Thomson

For one of our set-ups we got a little creative by utilizing a large white plastic serving tray to display the frogs against the pure white background. Laurie Thomson’s took the creativity one awesome step further in her photo of the Ranitomeya fantastica above by including the fingertips of the frog handler to create a sense of scale. Notice how the full grown frog is not much bigger than a fingernail!

Cruziohyla crasperdopus
©Barb Marszalek

Towards the end of the workshop we brought out a group of three Cruziohyla crasperdopus which Barb Marszalek captured beautifully as they climbed over each other. The colouration of these frogs allows them to remain camouflaged on the bark of certain palm trees while they sleep during the daylight hours. Barb attended one of my previous workshops at Reptilia and created many incredible photos, of which one received a Gold Ribbon at the Etobicoke Camera Club competition and a Bronze Medal in the Animal Category of the Greater Toronto Council of Camera Clubs competition. Awesome achievement Barb!

Ranitomeya imitator
©George Nagy

Longtime blog supporter George Nagy created this wonderful image of my favourite dart frog the Ranitomeya imitator as it rested on a large monstera leaf. George not only positioned the frog very nicely within the frame but also paid close attention to the details of the leaf allowing the one yellowish vein to act as a diagonal leading line.

Below you will see a few additional images created by each of these participants.

We will be announcing the date of the next dart frog workshop very soon and it will feature a completely new collection of dart frogs!

Dendrobates tinctorius “citronella”
©Martina Schneider

 

Epipedobates anthonyi
©George Nagy

 

La Palma Glass Frog (Hyalinobactrachium valerioi) – female with eggs
©Laurie Thomson

 

Dendrobates auratus campana
©Barb Marszalek

 

Dendrobates tinctorius “azureus”
©Paul Infelise

 

Ranitomeya vanzolinni
©George Nagy

 

Epipedobates anthonyi
©Laurie Thomson

 

Dendrobates auratus
©Martina Schneider

 

Dendrobates tinctoius “azureus”
©Barb Marszalek

 

Ameerega hahneli – defence posture
©Laurie Thomson

 

Ameerega hahneli
©Barb Marszalek

 

Ameerega hahneli
©Martina Schneider

 

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Sister Islands Rock Iguana (Cyclura nubila caymanensis)
Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm Lens @ 500mm (750mm equivalent focal length)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/500 sec.

 

On previous travels throughout the Caribbean I have had the opportunity to photograph Rock Iguanas in Cuba. I have also photographed them on the island of Little Cayman within the Cayman Islands. On my recent trip to Cayman Brac I encountered a large male Rock Iguana sunning in an open area far off from the main road on the island. I would estimate his length at roughly 3 feet from nose to tail. This was a special moment for me as the Rock Iguanas found on both Little Cayman and Cayman Brac are a unique subspecies known as the Sister Islands Rock Iguanas and they are listed as critically endangered on the IUCN Red List. Please do take a moment to read about this subspecies of the Rock Iguana on the IUCN Red List. When reading the report make note that on Little Cayman these iguanas occupy a range of 18 square kilometres while on Cayman Brac their range of habitat is 20 square kilometres. Several factors are to blame for their decline including; habitat destruction, feral cats, domestic cats and dogs, invasion species such as the Green Iguana and Norway Rat, and road mortality. While the Sister Islands Rock Iguana is a protected species there is little in the way of protected habitat for them.

When photographing wildlife, whether it is a critically endangered species or one of least concern, it is important that the welfare of the animal transcends the photographic opportunity.

Please remeber to click on each of the photos to see the larger, sharper version of this impressive reptile.

 

Sister Islands Rock Iguana (Cyclura nubila caymanensis)
Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm Lens @ 420mm (630mm equivalent focal length)
ISO 800
f8 @ 1/250 sec.

 

Sister Islands Rock Iguana (Cyclura nubila caymanensis)
Nikon D500, Nikon 200-500mm Lens @ 310mm (465mm equivalent focal length)
ISO 400
f8 @ 1/640 sec.

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

On Sunday April 9th, two days after receiving a late season snowfall, the temperatures rose to just above the 20 degree Celsius mark in south-central Ontario. Perfect conditions for a night time excursion to the neighborhood frog pond. As I drove through the night to reach the pond I did so with the car window rolled down and as I neared the pond’s location I could already hear the deafening chorus of hundreds of Spring Peppers. Typically at this point in the season it is only the Spring Peepers, Chorus Frogs, and Wood Frogs that are chorusing. Other species will generally emerge a few weeks later. On this night I did note many Green Frogs, and American Toads had also emerged but had not yet begun to chorus. I spent about two hours wading through the shallow waters of the pond searching out the crooners and also keeping a close eye on a newcomers to the pond – Beavers. Late last fall it appears that beavers have moved into the pond creating a dam to retain a deeper depth to the pond which should benefit the frog’s offspring in their metamorphosis to adulthood without the risk of the pond drying out. When searching for these frogs it is often best to search the grasses and shrubbery at the pond’s periphery, as this is where they will be discovered most often. On this first excursion I was pleasantly surprised to locate a juvenile Bullfrog as well.

Here are a few images that were created on this first excursion into this year’s spring chorus.

Please remember to click on each photo to view the larger, sharper version.

Have you have ever thought about trying your hand at photographing frogs and toads at night during the spring chorus. If so, send me an email to schedule a private in-the-field session to learn how I photograph them under the cover of darkness.

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

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Red-eyed Tree Frog © Chuck Carson

Red-eyed Tree Frog  © Chuck Carson

 

Workshop participant Chuck Carson recently shared a few of his images that he created during my January Reptile & Amphibian Workshop that was held at Reptilia. I love the peek-a-boo pose on the Red-eyed Tree Frog and the dead-on stare from the Green Tree Python has excellent sharpness from the tip of the nose to the eyes, which is where you want it to be. The Dendrobates auratus was photographed on some dried oak leaves to mimic the debris on the forest floor  that these colorful dart frogs call home. Similarly the Fire Salamander that is endemic to Europe was photograph in a mini-pond set-up with lichen covered tree bark to resemble native habitat for these large salamanders. Chuck also did very well with these latter two species, especially with the very jumpy dart frog and also by paying close attention to the salamander’s reflection in the pond, being sure not to cut it off on the bottom edge.

 

Green Tree Python © Chuck Carson

Green Tree Python  © Chuck Carson

 

Dendrobates auratus © Chuck Carson

Dendrobates auratus  © Chuck Carson

 

Fire Salamander © Chuck Carson

Fire Salamander  © Chuck Carson

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