In frog photography patience is a virtue and good things will come to those who wait. On May 30th of this year (yes, I am way behind on processing my image files) the night time temperatures were perfect for the male Green Frogs to congregate at a nearby wetland and chorus to entice females to the pond for mating. As I waded about the pond I noticed one particular male that was clinging to an old cattail stem, while floating in a section of the pond with no distracting debris floating in the water. I slowly made my way over to where he was and once directly in front of him, I slowly moved myself into a kneeling position in front of him. As I did this I was reminded of the hole in my chest waders as cold pond water began to trickle into the waders. Also it was a perfect night for the first mosquitoes of the season to emerge and feast upon your truly. I do not use any sort of bug spray when I am out photographing frogs and toads due to its toxicity to them. I would hate to handle a frog or toad with bug spray on my hands as it would be harmful and likely fatal to them. The time span between the above image and the one below is exactly seven minutes. Once I was in position, I waited and waited and waited, all the while swatting mosquitoes with slow-motion-like movement so that I would not disturb the frog. As I was waiting I kept watching the frog’s torso, as it began to fill with air I knew it was going to call very soon. In the above photo you can clearly see how bloated the frog looks and then in one quick moment all the air is pushed out, inflating the vocal sac, and the Green Frog’s signature loose banjo string-like call can be heard.
Archive for the ‘Wetlands’ Category
Posted in Amphibians, Frogs and Toads, Macro, ontario, Reptiles and Amphibians, Wetlands, tagged amphibians, frog photography, frogs, green frogs, nature photography, ontario, photography, wetlands on September 24, 2015| 4 Comments »
Posted in Frogs and Toads, Horseshoe Lake, Macro, Macro Photography, Muskoka, ontario, parry sound, Photo Gear, Reviews, Uncategorized, Wetlands, tagged denise ippolito, frogs, gentec international, muskoka, nature photography, ontario, photography, sigma, sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS, sigma lense, wetlands on September 21, 2015| 4 Comments »
In 2012 Sigma released the Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens. In July of this year I had the opportunity to spend about a week with the lens, to give a thorough workout, as it was on loan to me from Gentec International, the Canadian distributor for Sigma lenses. The Sigma 180mm Macro lens is physically a large lens yet does handle very nicely. It is equipped with Sigma’s Optical Stabilization feature, which will compensate for about 4 stops. At the time of this lens’ release it was the only 180mm Macro lens to offer such superb stabilization. It is also a fast lens with a maximum aperture of f2.8 therefore the viewfinder is bright making manual focus easy (should you prefer to manually focus your macro lenses – I generally do). Since my main objective was to use this lens handheld from the canoe for frog photography and wetland details too, I was very eager to put the Optical Stabilizer to the test. Some other features that are noteworthy to mention for this high-performance lens are:
- Three low dispersion glass elements for excellent correction of both axial chromatic aberration and lateral chromatic aberration.
- Hyper Sonic Motor delivers auto-focusing that is quiet, fast, and accurate.
- Multi-layer coatings to minimize flare and ghosting.
- Accepts 86mm size filters.
- Tripod collar to easily switch from horizontal to vertical orientations.
- Minimum focusing distance of 18.5 inches.
- Magnification ratio of 1:1 at the minimum focusing distance.
Let’s head out into the Horseshoe Lake wetland in the canoe and see what we can find. Do note additional info that is provided in the image captions.
One of the first things that did take some getting used to on my part was working with the greater minimum focusing distance. Since I am most accustomed to using my Nikon 105mm Micro Lens which has a minimum focusing distance of 12 inches I often found that I was getting in too close with the Sigma 180mm Macro lens and would have to adjust my positioning to accommodate for the greater minimum focusing distance. This is by no means a hindrance though, in fact the greater minimum focusing distance has many benefits to it. If you enjoy photographing butterflies, small lizards, snakes or other often difficult to approach subjects, the Sigma lens will permit photographing from a greater distance which in-turn will lessen the chance of entering the animals comfort zone causing them to take flight.
Hand-holding the Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens in the Horseshoe Lake wetland was a very enjoyable experience and allowed me to create numerous images that would have been difficult to do otherwise, as it would have been impossible to set-up a tripod in the soft mucky bottom. Do note that macro lenses as a rule are some of the best optics available and I will often use them for landscape imagery as well, including some of the intimate wetland scenes below.
After photographing several different scenarios in the wetland environment I decided to head into the woods with my tripod and photograph some woodland details. Many years ago I used spend much of my time in woodlands photographing woodland plants, tree bark details and any bugs that I could find. It was a ton of fun to take the Sigma 180mm Macro lens into the woods to re-visit my photographic roots.
And last but not least, I could not resist the temptation to create a pleasing blur of a lovely cluster of ferns growing alongside of the cottage road. To create the blurred effect I simply stood at the edge of the road, looking down upon the ferns and using an in-camera sideways motion with a shutter speed of 1/15 created an image that revealed the subject matter, yet had a pleasing amount of blur to it as well. This is a technique that I learned from colleague, mentor and friend Denise Ippolito.
Conclusion: The Sigma 180mm f2.8 APO Macro EX DG HSM OS Lens was an absolute joy to use. The 18.5 inch minimum working distance took some getting used to on my part, but is very beneficial to photographing subjects that are prone to spook very easily. The Optical Stabilization feature’s performance is superb offering a stable solution to creating hand-held imagery in often difficult situations. While I mainly used the lens hand-held, the tripod collar did make switching from horizontal to vertical orientations effortless when a tripod was in use. Alternately, the tripod collar would offer an excellent and very simple solution to mounting an off-camera flash for night-time macro photography, much like I do for my night-time frog imagery whereby I use flash 100% of the time. I would highly recommend this lens to anyone looking for a macro lens, or looking to upgrade to a longer focal length macro lens. It is a large, sturdy, and well built lens that delivers superb image results. I only wish that I had more time to fully explore the capabilities this lens has to offer.
Please do click on each of the images to see the larger, sharper versions.
Posted in Amphibians, Frogs and Toads, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, ontario, Wetlands, tagged amphibians, bullfrogs, fisheye lens, frogs, Horseshoe Lake, muskoka, nature photography, ontario, Parry Sound, photography, wetlands on July 28, 2015| 10 Comments »
Without a doubt my most often go-to lens for Bullfrog in the wetland on Horseshoe Lake is my Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens, and more often than not I select the Nikon D800’s 1.5 sensor crop when creating these images. By selecting the 1.5 sensor crop I am effectively using a 22mm fisheye lens with a close focusing distance of 5.5 inches. The close focusing capabilities of the Sigma 15mm Fisheye lens are hard to beat when it comes to creating these Bullfrog portraits. To view a larger selection of my fisheye imagery on the Sigma Canada website please click here.
Please remember to click on the images to see the larger, sharper version.
Posted in Animals, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, ontario, Reptiles and Amphibians, Wetlands, tagged common snapping turtle, Horseshoe Lake, muskoka, nature photography, onatrio, photography, turtles, wetlands on July 9, 2015| 4 Comments »
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.
Posted in Amphibians, Frogs and Toads, ontario, Wetlands, tagged american toads, amphibians, frog photography, frogs, gray treefrog, green frog, leopard frogs, nature photography, ontario, photography, spring peepers, stock photography, toads, treefrogs, wetlands on July 1, 2015| 6 Comments »
For the first time since the inception of this blog I went an entire month without a new blog post. Yikes! Sorry folks. The month of June quickly became a hectic month me as I was spending many evenings driving to various frog ponds near my home and the cottage in search of fresh froggie imagery, processing a large, multi-print, fine art order for the corporate head-quarters of a financial institution in the United States, and several other responsibilities that were leaving me little time to post any new content. The good news is that I was by no means slacking off on creating fresh imagery and now have many new photos, tips, and info to share in upcoming posts.
Each of the frog images within the post were created throughout the month of June during the peak of the spring chorus (breeding season) and surprisingly enough I do still hear the American Toads and Gray Treefrogs chorusing around my home, mostly due to the cool nights prolonging the breeding season this year.
During my travels to various ponds in June I discovered two new ponds that have become my preferref locations for frog photography. At one pond I was amazed at the sheer numbers of American Toads that were floating out in the deeper, inaccessible sections of the pond. They would make their way in towards the stands of last season’s dried cattail stems to chorus. Also among the dried cattail leaves were vast numbers of Spring Peepers. Finding a Spring Peeper among a stand of dried cattail leaves is like looking for a needle in a haystack. Most often the Spring Peepers will be chorusing well above the surface of the pond and once discovered, a slow approach is mandatory as they will become aware of your presence quickly and stop chorusing. If this happens remain still for about 10-15 minutes and you will soon be rewarded for your patience.
At the second pond that was newly discovered there were large congregations of Northern Leopard Frogs, which were quite co-operative as well as Green Frogs. Creating images of these two species with their vocal sacs inflated has always been a challenge for me as the call is quick and seemingly unannounced, but upon carefully studying the frog’s behavior I have noticed that they do indeed give very subtle clues that they are about to croak 🙂 Green Frogs will quickly flap the skin on their throat a couple of times just prior to calling, and the Northern Leopard Frogs (as do other frogs) will noticeably begin to draw air in making their body appear inflated. Once they look pretty full of air, a song is soon to follow.
This season I wanted to try creating some night-time imagery of frogs that had a slightly different look to them and thus I decided to head-out into the ponds with my Sigma 15mm Fisheye lens to see what I might be able to create. Below are two of my favorite fisheye night frog photos. When using the fisheye lens for these images it was imperative that I paid close attention to the placement of the flash, cords, and mini-flashlight (used for focusing) as they would end up within the image if placed incorrectly.
Of all the frogs and toads I get to photograph, none are more enjoyable than the Gray Treefrog. Often Gray Treefrogs will strike interesting poses as they climb around vegetation. Below are a few more Gray Treefrog photos that were created over the past month.
Posted in Animals, Frogs and Toads, Muskoka, ontario, parry sound, Wetlands, tagged bbc wildlife photographer of the year, bullfrogs, frogs, Horseshoe Lake, muskoka, nature photography, ontario, wetlands on November 9, 2014| 11 Comments »
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.
Posted in Macro, Macro Photography, Wetlands, tagged nature photography, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens, Nikon D800, Nikon Speedlight, ontario, pond life, ponds, predaceous diving beetler larva, vernal pools, water bugs, water tiger, wetlands on July 27, 2014| 6 Comments »
Water Tiger is the common name given to the larval stage of the Predacious Diving Beetle. During my forays out to the frog ponds I often encounter bizarre, alien-like waterbugs, so recently I decided to use a small 2.5 gallon aquarium and and photograph a few of these interesting critters. The Water Tiger has a voracious appetite and will often devour tadpoles, salamander larva, other aquatic bugs, and small fish. The large sickle-like jaws allow them to over-power prey larger than themselves. My aquarium set-up was quite productive allowing me to successfully create numerous images of various subjects. I will share in a future post soon exactly what worked best for the set-up and how I processed each of the image files.
Please do click on each of the images to see the larger, sharper versions.