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Posts Tagged ‘amphibians’

Bullfrog Among Lily Pads on Horseshoe Lake Nikon D800 (with 1.5 sensor crop activated), Sigma EX DG f2.8 15mm Fisheye Lens ISO 800, f8 @ 1/60 sec

Bullfrog Among Lily Pads on Horseshoe Lake
Nikon D800 (with 1.5 sensor crop activated), Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/60 sec

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.

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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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Gray Treefrog on Branch at Night Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens Nikon Speedlight SB400 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Gray Treefrog on Branch at Night
Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens
Nikon Speedlight SB400 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

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.

American Toad with Vocal Sac Inflated

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Spring Peeper with Vocal Sac Inflated.

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

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.

Northern Leopard Frog with Vocal Sacs Inflated

Northern Leopard Frog with Vocal Sacs Inflated. Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens Nikon Speedlight SB400 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Green Frog with Vocal Sac Inflated.

Green Frog with Vocal Sac Inflated. Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens Nikon Speedlight SB400 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

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.

Gray Treefrog at Night in Wetland. Nikon D800, Sigma EX DG f2.8 15mm Fisheye Lens, Nikon Speedlight SB400 on a Wimberely F-2 Macro Bracket, ISO 100, f16 @ 1/60 sec.

Gray Treefrog at Night in Wetland. Nikon D800, Sigma EX DG f2.8 15mm Fisheye Lens, Nikon Speedlight SB400 on a Wimberely F-2 Macro Bracket, ISO 100, f16 @ 1/60 sec.

Green Frog in Wetland at Night.

Green Frog in Wetland at Night. Nikon D800, Sigma EX DG f2.8 15mm Fisheye Lens, Nikon Speedlight SB400 on a Wimberely F-2 Macro Bracket, ISO 100, f16 @ 1/60 sec.

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.

Gray Treefrog.

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

Gray Treefrog.

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

Gray Treefrog.

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

Gray Treefrog.

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

Gray Treefrog.

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

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

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

Gray Treefrog with Vocal Sac Inflated. Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens Nikon Speedlight SB400 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Gray Treefrog with Vocal Sac Inflated. Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens
Nikon Speedlight SB400 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

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Cuban Treefrog at Rest Nikon D800, Nikon 24-85 VR @ 85mm ISO 100, f22 @ 0.5 sec.

Cuban Treefrog at Rest
Nikon D800, Nikon 24-85 VR @ 85mm
ISO 100, f22 @ 0.5 sec.

One thing I was looking most forward to upon returning to the Caribbean Island of Cayman Brac in March was photographing Cuban Treefrogs. Although the Cuban Treefrog is an invasive species throughout the Caribbean known to feast upon smaller frog species, they are still a beautiful treefrog. When I visited Cayman Brac in February 2014 the Cuban Treefrogs were very easy to locate however, in March 2015 this was not the case. It had been relatively dry prior to my return trip and I think some of the frogs moved on to wetter areas or were lying dormant somewhere. After three very unsuccessful nights of searching for these frogs I remembered one very important fact about treefrogs – they will most often hang-out around human structures and porch lights as the lights tend to provide these amphibians with an all-u-can-eat buffet :) I began searching the decorative concrete wall surrounding the villa and alas I found a Cuban Treefrog sleeping away the day. The next plan was to monitor this frog as night began to fall so that I could finally create some fresh Cuban Treefrog imagery.

Cuban Treefrog Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400 VR @ 200mm Canon 500D Close-up Filter Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Cuban Treefrog
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400 VR @ 200mm
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Once I had discovered this frog’s day-time resting place I was easily able to locate and photograph it over the course of several nights. Here is a selection of my most favorite froggie images from the lovely island of Cayman Brac.

As you scroll through the images below do note that I have used a Canon 500D Close-up Filter on my Nikon 80-400mm VR lens. This close-up filter is a simple and relatively inexpensive option for turning lenses such as the Nikon 80-400mm and the Canon 100-400mm into close focusing macro lenses. Here is a photo to illustrate the Canon 500D Close-up Filter attached to my Nikon 80-400mm VR lens.

Canon 500D Close-up Filter Attached to Nikon 80-400mm VR Lens

Canon 500D Close-up Filter Attached to Nikon 80-400mm VR Lens

Also note that each of these images were photographed handheld using the discontinued Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket (the best flash bracket on the market for macro work today).

Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket

Please do remember to click on each image to see the larger, sharper versions.

Cuban Treefrog Nikon D800, NIkon 80-400mm VR @ 195mm Canon 500D Close-up Filter Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Cuban Treefrog
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 195mm
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

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

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

Cuban Treefrog Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 260mm Canon 500D Close-up Filter Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Cuban Treefrog
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 260mm
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
ISO 100, f22 @ 1/60 sec.

Cuban Treefrog Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 175mm Canon 500D Close-up Filter Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket ISO 100, f32 @ 1/60 sec.

Cuban Treefrog
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 175mm
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
ISO 100, f32 @ 1/60 sec.

Cuban Treefrog - headshot Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 310mm Canon 500D Close-up Filter Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket ISO 100, f32 @ 1/60 sec.

Cuban Treefrog – headshot
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR @ 310mm
Canon 500D Close-up Filter
Nikon Speedlight SB600 on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket
ISO 100, f32 @ 1/60 sec.

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American Toad. Nikon D800, Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens, ISO 800, f8 @ 1/100 sec

American Toad. Nikon D800, Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens, ISO 800, f8 @ 1/100 sec

One of my favorite ways to photograph smaller critters with the Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens is to utilize the sensor crop feature on the Nikon D800. For each of the images in this post I selected the DX 1.5 crop. which is the sensor size of  DSLRs with the APS-C size sensors. When this crop is selected the 15mm fisheye lens becomes the 35mm equivalent of 22mm. Considering that the Sigma fisheye lens already focuses down to 5.5 inches once the sensor crop is selected you have a very effective tool for creating up-close-and-personal portraits of small critters that also give a sense of the habitat in which these critters live. Do note that the Sigma Fisheye lens will focus almost twice as close as the Nikon 16mm Fisheye Lens and for the type of imagery I like to create with the fisheye perspective this is what makes the Sigma lens such an important tool that now follows me everywhere I go :)

Here are a few American Toad images and one Spotted Salamander photo that were created a couple of weeks ago while exploring the woodlands for toads and salamanders. You may note that the salamander only has one eye, which is either a deformity or a past injury now healed. I purposely photographed the good side in hopes of hiding the closed eye. Interestingly enough I photographed this same salamander last fall, so the deformity allows me to monitor this particular one, which resides beneath a log on the cottage property at Horseshoe Lake.

Please do remember to click on each of the photos to view the larger, sharper versions.

American Toad on Haircap Moss. Nikon D800, Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens, ISO 1250, f11 @ 1/250 sec

American Toad on Haircap Moss. Nikon D800, Sigma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens, ISO 1250, f11 @ 1/250 sec

American Toad. Nikon D800, Sigma 15mm f 2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens. ISO 1250, f11 @ 1/40 sec

American Toad. Nikon D800, Sigma 15mm f 2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens. ISO 1250, f11 @ 1/40 sec

Spotted Salamander. Nikon D800, SIgma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens, ISO 1250, f11 @ 1/160 sec

Spotted Salamander. Nikon D800, SIgma 15mm f2.8 EX DG Fisheye Lens, ISO 1250, f11 @ 1/160 sec

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Aquarium Set-up_1173

Above you will see the temporary set-up that I used to create the Water Tiger images in the previous post. Click on the image to see the larger version and you will see that I have used a pair of clothes pegs to hold a small piece of cardboard that has been painted with greens and browns to try and get a pond water look onto the back wall of the aquarium. In the image above I used water-logged leaves as the substrate, which did work not bad but they do hold a lot of debris that can cloud the water. On my second attempt at using this set-up I opted for a sandy substrate that worked much better. By setting the small 2.5 gallon aquarium on the bucket photography was made so much easier and the dip net was essential for catching the various critters that I was able to photograph.

In the images below you will notice that some have relatively clean looking water. I achieved this by cloning out some of the larger particles that were in the water and also with a quick and dirty method discovered by reducing the structure and contrast sliders in Nik Viveza 2 to create the ‘clean’ look. Do note that the images with the sandy bottom yield a cleaner look. The debris in the frog photo (you shoulda known I could not resist the temptation for over-under froggie photos :) ), which is a result of the leafy substrate is acceptable to me as frog ponds are seldom crystal clear anyway.

Here are a few of the recent edits from the aquatic pond life set-up. Please let me know which is your favorite and don’t forget to click on each to see the larger, sharper versions.

Salamander Larva. Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens, ISO 50, f14 @

Salamander Larva. Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens, Nikon Speedlight SB400, ISO 100, f14 @ 1/60

Gray Tree Frog Tadpole. Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens, ISO 400, f20 @ 1/60

Gray Tree Frog Tadpole. Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens, Nikon Speedlight SB400,  ISO 400, f20 @ 1/60

Predaceous Diving Beetle Larva Breathing at Surface. Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens, ISO 400, f16 @ 1/60

Predaceous Diving Beetle Larva Breathing at Surface. Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens, Nikon Speedlight SB400, ISO 400, f16 @ 1/60

Green Frog. Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens, ISO 500, f16 @ 1/125

Green Frog. Nikon D800, Nikon 105mm Micro Lens, ISO 500, f16 @ 1/125

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American Toad_9913

The two images presented here were created a few seconds apart. Often I will take several images from various angles and perspectives when photographing frogs and toads at night, especially when I see the ripple effect. The ripple effect is created when the toad’s vocal sac touches the water’s surface while it is chorusing. The vibration of the vocal sac creates the ripples. In each of these images I was immediately drawn to the way the dead cattail leaves were framing the toad along the bottom portion of the composition and while composing I made certain not to cut-off the ‘V’ created by the break in the leaf at the bottom edge.

American Toad_9915

Please remember to click on each of the images to see the larger, sharper versions. Which do you prefer?

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