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Posts Tagged ‘amphibians’

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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Gray Treefrog_244

A few nights ago I ventured out into a new pond that I had discovered where Gray Treefrogs are chorusing very loudly. The pond already has a dense growth of cattails so working my way out to the area of the pond where the frogs were located was tricky at best, but I was able to create a few new images that ended up in the keeper file :) Gray Treefrogs are the chameleons of the amphibian world, able to change their colors to blend in to their surrounding environment. Photographing them in the spring when they are at their breeding pools among the green cattails typically produces images of them in their splendid greens.

Gray Treefrog_260

Gray Treefrog_278

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Green Frog With Vocal Sac Inflated

Green Frog With Vocal Sac Inflated

By far the most productive nights for photographing frogs and toads tend to be those which are humid, rainy, or drizzly. Above is a recent Green Frog photographed with its vocal sac inflated that was created on a wet evening after the rain stopped. Using a Nikon D800 and a Nikon 105mm Micro lens, I knelt down in the shallow pond with my chest waders on and assumed a low and steady perspective  by resting my elbows on the pond’s substrate. Green Frog’s vocal sacs are only inflated for a brief period while they are making their loose banjo string-like song, but closely watching their movements you can easily learn when to press the shutter to capture a fully inflated vocal sac.

Please click on the image to see the larger, sharper version.

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A Large Male Bullfrog on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

A Large Male Bullfrog on Horseshoe Lake, Parry Sound, Ontario

I created this bullfrog portrait last summer on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario. The easiest way to create such images of bullfrogs is to do so from a canoe. Bullfrogs are generally quite approachable and will often tolerate you sliding up beside them in a canoe. By using the Live View mode on my Nikon D800 with a Nikon 105mm Micro lens attached I was able to hand-hold the rig just above the water’s surface for a low perspective – the lens hood was actually dipping into the water slightly. When you photograph frogs in the water from such low perspectives you will be able to get the accompanying reflection. To ensure that I am holding the camera square with the world I place a double-bubble level in the camera’s hot-shoe, alternately you could activate the virtual horizon feature while in the Live View mode. It is also advisable to use auto-focus while doing so as the last thing you need to worry about while leaning over the edge of your canoe is focusing the lens manually.

I am eagerly awaiting this season’s Bullfrog photography on Horseshoe Lake as I will be experimenting with the Sony RX100 in an underwater housing for a completely new perspective on froggies.

Please do click on the image to see the larger, sharper version.

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