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.
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.
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 :)
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.
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.
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.
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 :)