Posted in Frogs and Toads, Macro, Macro Photography, ontario, Reptiles and Amphibians, tagged frogs, muskoka, nature photography, ontario, photography, spring peepers, wimberley macro flash bracket on May 29, 2013|
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Spring 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 🙂
Before and After Versions of Spring Peeper
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Posted in Frogs and Toads, Macro Photography, Photo Gear, tagged flash brackets, flash photography, frogs, gray treefrogs, macro flash brackets, nature photography, ontario, photography, wimberley, wimberley macro flash bracket on May 27, 2012|
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Wimberley Macro Flash Bracket – Single-Arm Set-up
For many years I have relied on a home-made flash bracket for photographing frogs and toads and butterflies. This bracket was constructed from aluminum strapping purchased at a local hardware store. The design was quite simple and the bracket was easily made. In fact, I simply followed John Shaw’s instructions on how to make such a bracket in “The Nature Photographer’s Complete Guide to Professional Field Techniques” that was first published in 1984. This home-made bracket has served me well over the years and certainly allowed me to capture many of my most cherished frog images, however, this bracket also had its share of issues. I often found it awkward to carry in the field as it would not store easily in my gear bag, the weight of the flash would cause the bracket to sway, and I disliked having to hold it during long hikes. Enter the Wimberley Macro Flash Bracket – Single-Arm Set-up, which is by far the best design and the most user friendly macro flash bracket on the market today. A couple of months ago Wimberley was kind enough to supply me with a Macro Flash Bracket – Single-Arm Set-up for my frog and toad photography this season. I have given this flash bracket a thorough workout and can honestly not find a single issue with it or its design. One of the things I like best about this bracket is that it will fold down to a small enough size that I can fit it into my back pocket or a jacket pocket for carrying convenience, I can position the flash in any direction I wish thanks to the multi-jointed design, and once the locking knobs are tightened the bracket is rock solid.
What I like most of all about this flash bracket is the multi-jointed design that literally allows you to position the flash in any position desired to obtain optimal light on the subject. I find it particularly useful for capturing Gray’s Treefrogs chorusing from tree branches over-hanging the breeding pools or hiding under small over-hangs at the pond’s edge.. I can simply position the flash around any branches or up under the over-hang that may be in the way to get the flash where I need it to be for the image, with my home-made bracket and many other commercially available brackets this is not possible, and if your bracket should by chance bump the branch that the frog is sitting on you have just lost your shot. In the above image you will see the Wimberley Macro Flash Bracket – Single-Arm Set-up as I use it with the M-8 Perpendicular Plate attached. The M-8 Perpendicular Plate will allow you to position the flash bracket a little further out and make the bracket more user friendly than it already is and it will allow you to add a second Single-Arm Set-up for a dual macro flash system if you prefer to use two flashes for your macro work. Check out the pdf instructions for the Macro Flash Bracket here. If you are looking for a high quality macro flash bracket that is solid, offers superior functionality, user friendly, and folds easily for storage and carrying in the field I highly recommend that you take a close look at the Wimberley Macro Flash Bracket – Single-Arm Set-up…I think you will be glad that you did.
In the image below you will see how I use the system when it is attached to the camera. I have used an old Nikon D70 for illustration purposes. Do note that I will often change the position of the flash as each situation may require something a little different. The flash that I most often use is the Nikon SB400, although I will sometimes use a much heavier Nikon SB600. Even with the larger heavier flash attached this bracket is rock solid.
My typical set-up for photographing frogs & toads
And the next image is the home-made bracket that I used for a number of years, but will most likely never use again. The Wimberley Macro Flash Bracket – Single-Arm Set-up will now be my go to bracket for all of my macro flash photo needs. It is quite simply the best bracket to use for my macro photography needs.
Home-made Flash Bracket
Below you will see a few recent Gray Treefrog images that I photographed during the Canada’s Victoria Day weekend while I was up in the Parry Sound region of Ontario. The Wimberley Macro Flash Bracket – Single-Arm Set-up made shooting these images very easy, as I was able to position the flash around some small branches to illuminate the frog as it inflated it’s vocal sac while chorusing above the pond, and for the last image I was able to get the flash to light up the area under a small over-hang where this male was calling.
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