Posts Tagged ‘turtles’

Juvenile Eastern Painted Turtle, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm lens at 500mm (35mm equivalent = 750mm)
ISO 400, f8 @ 1/250 sec
B&W Polarizing Filter

Try as I may I have yet to find any Bullfrogs within the wetland at my cottage on Horseshoe Lake near Parry Sound, Ontario. To date I have heard all but one male Bullfrog chorusing so far this season but locating him is another matter altogether. I believe the difficulty in finding the Bullfrogs may have something to do with the very cool and late start of the growing season as the waterlilies are well behind schedule in terms of water surface coverage and blooming. The lake level is also considerably higher this year, by as much as one foot. It is possible that the Bullfrogs are seeking refuge in the dense thickets of leatherleaf that surround the wetland edges and will emerge out into the more open areas of the wetland when the waterlilies provide more coverage.

On a recent exploration of the wetland I did however have the good fortune of locating some very co-operative turtles and water snakes. On one outing I located 12 Northern Water Snakes basking on a beaver lodge! The highlight of my excursions was finding a juvenile Eastern Painted Turtle that was small enough to be sunning on a yellow pond lily leaf. To create the opening photo I chose a low perspective by seating myself in the bottom of the canoe and carefully framed the scene to ensure I maintained the turtle’s reflection in the slice of open water between two lily pad leaves. By resting the lens on the gunwale of the canoe I was able to gain the additional support for this handheld capture. A polarizing filter is pretty much a necessity when photographing basking turtles to eliminate the unwanted glare from the vegetation and the turtle’s carapace, they are also very useful for eliminating the undesirable glare from the scales of snakes. My choice of polarizing filter for use on the Nikkor 200-500mm VR Lens is the B&W 95mm F-Pro Kaesemann High Transmission Circular Polarizing MRC Filter.

Snapping Turtle, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D500, Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 340mm (35mm equivalent = 540mm)
ISO 800, f8 @ 1/125 sec.
B&W Polarizing Filter

The Common Snapping Turtle above was photographed in the exact same manner as the juvenile Eastern Painted Turtle although a passing cloud thankfully provided some temporary over-cast conditions, which eliminated the harsh shadows that were being cast from upward pointing branches on the log. Whenever I locate an overly co-operative subject such as this large snapping turtle I put away my long lens after creating a few images and reach for my wide angle lenses for an unique perspective as shown below.

Snapping Turtle-scape, Horseshoe Lake Wetland, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikkor 18-35mm lens @ 35mm
ISO 800, f16 @ 1/50 sec
Nikon Polarizing Filter


Snapping Turtle, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D800, Nikkor 24-85mm lens @ 78mm
ISO 400, f16 @ 1/200 sec

Below are two Northern Water Snake images that were captured over the course of the last two weekends. The first water snake was discovered within the wetland complex at rest among the branches of a beaver lodge while the second was found resting on a rock beside my dock in late evening light. Each of these images makes use of killer features found on the Nikon D500. In the first image I could not get in as close I was wanted to due to the branches extending out into the water. The work around was to select the Nikon D500’s 1.3X sensor crop and presto – I had the composition I desired. Once again, seating myself in the canoe and using the gunwale to provide additional support and activating the Vibration Reduction on the Nikkor 200-500mm lens I was able to handhold the shot at the 35mm equivalent of a 1,000mm lens!

Northern Water Snake, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500 (35mm equivalent = 1000mm)
ISO 500, f8 @ 1/160 sec
B&W Polarizing Filter

Often I will venture down to the dock in the evening to see what critters have begun to emerge and was delighted to find the water snake at rest on the rock beside the dock. The only way to effectively photograph the snake was to get into the water. Due to the fading light, hand-holding the image was going to be impossible so I set-up my tripod in the lake allowing me to mount my camera and lens just above the water’s surface. Once again I was wanting to create a slight tighter composition so I set the 1.3X sensor crop. To deal with the low light and slow shutter speed I set my self-timer to 2 seconds, activated the Live View feature, and since the Nikon D500’s LCD screen is a touch screen you can actually touch the screen where you want it to focus. Once focus is achieved an image will be captured. In this case, I touched the LCD screen where the snake’s right eye is and two seconds later the camera recorded the image you see below.

Northern Water Snake, Horseshoe Lake, Muskoka, Ontario
Nikon D500
Nikkor 200-500mm lens @ 500mm (35mm equivalent = 1000mm)
ISO 500, f11 @ 1/15 sec

Please remember to click on each photo to see the larger, sharper version.



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Common Snapping Turtle Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR Lens Nikon Circular Polarizing Filter ISO 800, f11 @ 1/320

Common Snapping Turtle
Nikon D800, Nikon 80-400mm VR Lens
Nikon Circular Polarizing Filter
Handheld at ISO 800, f11 @ 1/320

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.

Common Snapping Turtle Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm Lens @ 35mm Handheld at ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1000

Common Snapping Turtle
Nikon D800, Nikon 18-35mm Lens @ 35mm
Handheld at ISO 400, f8 @ 1/1000

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After a wild wind and rain storm yesterday the skies cleared and the temperature stayed relatively warm throughout the night. Perfect conditions for resuming my frog pond adventures. Every year when I venture out in to the vernal ponds ( created by melting snow and rainfall) in the 40 acre, abandoned cattle pasture behind my home I wonder if I will see the turtle again. The turtle is a snapping turtle, one of the largest I have ever seen. Last night we crossed paths while I was stalking the chorusing frogs. Since I was wearing my chest waders I sat down beside the turtle and waited for it to come up for air. When it did I captured the above image. I was rather glad to be wearing my chest waders as there were numerous bloodsuckers on the turtle, as can be seen in the photo, and many swimming among the grasses. I have absolutely no idea where this turtle goes once it leaves these ponds, it will leave in about a month or two, but every year it returns to hibernate here and for the last 14 years we cross paths in the ponds. I sat with this old friend for about half an hour and also had the opportunity to photograph a Giant Water Bug that was no doubt feasting on the bloodsuckers. I was also able to find a few cooperative frogs. The toads have just begun to arrive at the ponds, so they should commence chorusing in the coming days.

Hope you enjoy the photos.

Giant Water Bug

Green Frog

Spring Peeper with vocal sac inflated

Wood Frog with vocal sacs inflated

Common Toad

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