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Posts Tagged ‘spring peepers’

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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Spring Peepers_7318Spring Peepers, Parry Sound, Ontario

To follow-up on my previous post regarding Spring Peeper clean-up, there is on occasion when I may find it necessary to perform little clean-up at all. The above image illustrates one such situation. These treefrogs were located far up a sandy bank of the pond among some small twigs. I do not often encounter such interactions between spring peepers and I have never photographed two in the frame with one singing before, so I was delighted to find this very co-operative pair.  As you can see it would be a nightmare to attempt cleaning up the grains of sand from the frog’s skin and I do think the grains of sand and small twigs help illustrate the environment in which these frogs were found. I did perform some clean-up of the flash generated spectral highlights as this is a night-time capture. Night-time is my preferred and most productive time of day for frog photography. Why? Most frog species are nocturnal and are most active at night.

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

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Spring Peeper_7343Spring Peeper with Vocal Sac Inflated

With the frog ponds behind my home destroyed, I traveled north to the Parry Sound region to first open the cottage up for another season and to visit one of my favorite temporary ponds that is usually highly productive for American Toads, Spring Peepers, and Gray Treefrogs. The first night was very cool and only the Spring Peepers were out chorusing. Finding Spring Peepers requires a boat load of patience due to there tiny size, but they usually co-operative once you do locate them. The above little fella was found in perfect position on a small silver birch sapling and his placement on the branch would allow for a beautiful poster-like background.

The main problem encountered with photographing frogs at night with flash is spectral highlights. These are blown-out highlights caused when the light from the flash hits the frog’s glossy skin and surrounding wet vegetation. Often I will spend a lengthy amount of time cleaning up these undesirable and unnatural highlights. On occasion, as you can see in the before and after versions below, there will be extensive blown-out highlights. For this particular image there was little good skin left, on the frog’s nose, to work with to evict the highlights so I looked back through the series of images I photographed of this frog on the branch. Sure enough I was able to find another photo where the flash hit the frog’s skin at a slightly different angle resulting in fewer blown-out highlights. I now had my solution. I opened both images into Photoshop and rather than use the ‘Tile’ viewing, I opened them into ‘windows.’ I then made a quick mask of the nose in the image with fewer highlights and moved it into position on the optimized image. The remainder of the flash generated highlights were evicted using the clone stamp tool whereby I would vary the hardness depending on where in the image I was cloning.

This Spring Peeper image was created using a Nikon D800 with a Nikon 105mm Micro lens attached. The flash was a Nikon SB400 Speedlight on a Wimberley F-2 Macro Bracket (the best flash bracket I have ever used for frog photography). A small mini-mag flashlight is affixed to the SB400 with two elastics. The small flashlight makes focusing on these critters at night a breeze.

Do remember to click on the images to see the larger, sharper versions of each. The image below shows the original RAW capture straight out of the camera with no adjustments made to it, and the optimized image.

A quick reminder to folks about Denise Ippolito’s presentation for GRIPS Camera Club in Kitchener, Ontario on Monday June 3rd at 7:30 pm. Denise is a very talented and highly creative photographer with imagery bound to fill you with inspiration. If you are in the vicinity do make plans to attend.Hope to see you there 🙂

Spring Peeper Before & AfterBefore and After Versions of Spring Peeper

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Male Spring Peeper calling at night

I have received numerous kind words about my collection of frog photos and several folks have been inquiring with me about how I go about photographing them at night. Night is often the best time to photograph frogs and toads when they are chorusing and the best way to photograph them is by pulling on a pair of chest waders and get in the water with them. I personally find Chorus Frogs and Spring Peepers to be the most difficult to photograph as they are tiny and quite wary of danger. My usual attire for pond walking are chest waders, heavy fleece sweater with pockets, toque, head-lamp and a small clip-on flashlight. Chest waders are better than hip waders as most often I find myself sitting down in the shallow ponds to get as low an angle as possible to photograph the frogs at their level. A fleece sweater to keep warm on cool nights with pockets to keep spare flashlight batteries, camera batteries and flash batteries. A toque for my bald head so that the head-lamp fits more comfortably and a small clip-on flashlight that is attached to my flash bracket. My camera set-up is simply a 105 macro lens  on my Nikon D200 with a Nikon Sb400 Speedlight attached to a flash bracket to hold the flash out above the lens. Once I am all set-up with my camera gear and clothing I head out into the field behind my home and enter the ponds. Most often I find I am using sound to locate the calling frogs. When one is located I will slowly move into a kneeling position and turn on the small clip-on flashlight that is attached to my flash bracket. This clip-on flashlight is what I use to provide light to focus on the frogs. The Chorus Frogs and Spring Peepers tend to stop calling when you approach, but if you sit absolutely still they will begin to sing again. Good things come to those who wait. Once they commence singing again you will soon hear that their songs have a steady rhythm to them, allowing you to time when to press the shutter to capture the vocal sac at its largest size. Often while in the kneeling position I will crouch forward putting my arms into the pond to hold the camera set-up right at the water’s surface for a very low angled perspective. This alone will most often yield a more pleasing photograph than if you shoot down on the frogs from a higher angle. As the grasses in the ponds grow up out of the water it becomes increasingly more difficult to capture images with pleasing backgrounds and many times I have tracked a Spring Peeper in the ponds only to find that it is completely hidden, out of sight, inside a clump of grass making photography of it near impossible…onto the next frog. I have been lucky this year as the temperatures warmed up very quickly, even set an all-time record, +25 Celsius, for this region in March ever. The rapid increase in temperatures brought numerous species of frogs and toads out of hibernation, a month early, allowing me to photograph the them with little distractions from unwanted grasses beginning to grow up and out of the water. The two images in this post are of the same frog. As you will see in the image below this little fella was right up against some old and new grasses making a poster-like background impossible, so I decided to make some very tight, close-ups to help render the background more out of focus. Let me know which is your favorite and why.

Male Spring Peeper calling at night

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Chorus Frog, male, in position to start calling

I have spent the last two nights out in the ponds photographing the Chorus Frogs, Wood Frogs and Spring Peepers. The Spring Peepers emerged about two days ago and began singing. So far, this year is turning out to be one of the best, if not the loudest chorus I have ever heard in my 15 years of living here. While sitting in the ponds, surrounded by a large number of Chorus Frogs, I can honestly say that the sound is utterly deafening this year. I love it! And the best part is these little fellas are quite literally singing all day and all night long. Each night after I have finished photographing the frogs it is so nice to crawl into bed, leaving the bedroom window open, and be serenaded to sleep by these wonderful sounds of spring. Here are a few recent captures from the last two nights. Note, I have never been able to photograph Chorus Frogs in the day as they are too weary and go silent when I get within 50 feet or so of the ponds. At night it is a different story, especially if it is an overcast night. For some reason overcast nights are always more productive. With temperatures predicted to break records, for this time of the year, over the next few days I would not be at all surprised to see the American Toads emerging very soon as well.

Chorus Frog calling

Chorus Frog calling

Spring Peeper calling

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