Frog Blog


Wild Arena are hosting their ever popular macro workshop in our Salisbury store on the 22nd of September 2017. In honour of this, I thought I would write a blog about Macro photography, focusing on when Wild Arena bought in their beautiful peacock tree frog and the shots that I created. Who knows, you may be able to meet this little fellow (who is a female by the way!) if you book on the course! Don’t miss out!

A few years ago I had the opportunity to photograph a beautiful peacock tree frog while Wild Arena were hosting their mini beasts macro workshop at the store. As one of the largest tree frogs in Africa they make for fantastic photographic models, but still small enough to use a macro lens and capture the fine detail. Wildlife photography and macro being a particular interest of mine, I thought I would take the opportunity to talk through some of the finer details of this style and give you tips that helped me produce a photo worthy of this exotic creature.

(All shots taken with the Canon 6D and Canon 100mm f2.8 L IS USM)

 

Your First Photo

 

 

Information is a beautiful thing. It fills our mind with knowledge. However, too much thinking can get in the way of a creative masterpiece. We need to work on our emotions and the FEELING we get when we hit that shutter button at the exact right moment. With that thought in mind, shown above is my very first shot in a series of frog photos being taken with an hour at my disposal and I think it’s my best one! Of course, photography is speculative and I’ll let you make up your own mind, but my point is still valid. Sometimes its better to forget all the technical knowledge you know and shoot with a passion and excitement that comes from a primal feeling. Technology can only get you so far. The rest is endless.

 

Capture the moment

Following on from the above is the necessary need to capture the moment. Animals have a certain time frame of patience and they are gone! You have one shot to get the perfect pose or you might not get another opportunity. The Peacock frog was placed on the back of the leaf to climb onto it giving me a second to capture the image you see above. She hadn’t settled yet so there were some interesting poses awaiting me. As soon as she had settled she did not move a muscle! This gave me the opportunity to get lovely macro shots. However all the action and movement were in the first few seconds. The last thing you want is to stress the creature, so if they don’t move don’t poke and prod but rather work around them. (See “Perspective”) Animals work to their own tune. You just have to guess what that tune will be and be ready when they create their music.

 

 

Perspective

Don’t be frightened to move around. Most people are afraid to move anywhere other than the space in front of them missing all those opportunities that are right in front of their nose! Try and get into the mind of the frog and focus on features that aren’t necessarily the obvious. The Usumbara peacock tree frog likes to reside on low hanging branches in the wet tropical forests of Tanzania. Although this may not be common knowledge, working around the frog to incorporate the leaves can create a different viewpoint. The leaves are part of its environment and should be a focal point of the photo. The leaves and frog are as one. If you can think out of the box your image will stand out from the crowd and get you noticed.

 

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Macro

The draw to macro is the ability to capture those finer details. This opens up a whole new style of photography. This doesn’t mean that you need to get up close each time. You can create fantastic shots at a sensible distance, but still achieve the fine detail that macro lenses are known for. The most widely used lens in my kit is my old Sigma 105mm f2.8 (The equivalent is now the Sigma 105mm f2.8 EX OS) I use this lens for portraits as well as macro and it does a fantastic job. Look beyond the lens functions and play around with what your lens can achieve outside of its advertised purpose.

After the frog had retired from her photo-shoot it was time to bring out the big guns. The beautiful, if not slightly scary stick insect. The reason I have mentioned this, is to highlight the fact that you should never be satisfied with the obvious. Focus in on key areas and try to find different ways of shooting the inevitably shot to death animals.

Above all, have fun. Nothing is worth the time or money if you don’t have fun with it. If you fail this time round, just appreciate the fact that you got to spend time out in the field or in a studio environment getting up close and personal with the animals on this earth.

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Nikon Owl and Raptor photography day


On 20th October Castle Cameras were lucky enough to host an Owl and Raptor day with John Clements from Go Photo Training, Adam from Nikon UK and Toby from South Wilts Falconry in Hampshire.

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The weather was very kind to us for the time of year.  It started off overcast and brightened up in the afternoon.

John Clements started off proceedings with some very useful tips on setting your Nikon DSLR to get the best out of the day.  He talked about shooting modes, ISO and autofocus amongst other things.

We then headed out into the field to meet Toby and his wonderful birds.  The first to fly was the Peregrine Falcon.  He was so fast, with speeds of up to 80mph. It gave us practise at getting the bird in shot.  John gave us some tips on getting the bird well-framed and in focus with a blurred background.  Some people got fantastic results!

We had another input session with John, then soup and a buffet lunch was provided by Karen and Howard at Castle Cameras.

After lunch we had the opportunity to try the Nikkor 600mm f2.8 with a Sirui gimbal head. Toby flew a bird of prey directly towards the camera.  What a treat!  The lens is a beast and definitely not within most peoples’ budgets, so lovely to be able to have a little play with it here.  There were also plenty of other lenses which Adam brought along from Nikon and everybody shared them nicely throughout the day.  There wasn’t too much squawking!

Toby asked for volunteers to fly the snowy owl.   They put on the special glove, held some food for the bird and it flew across the field and landed on their hand.  What an awe-inspiring bird to get up-close and personal with.

At the end of the day we went back inside and had a good look through our photos.  We had a chance to share some of the best ones with the group.  There were some stunning shots to come out of the day and we all learned a lot from John Clements and Toby.

So our thanks go out to all the participants who came along to make the day possible. Also special thanks go out to Toby from South Wilts Falconry and his magnificent birds, Adam from Nikon and all the fantastic kit he let us play with and especially to John Clements from GoPhotoTraining for making the day so interesting and informative.  It was a great success and we hopefully we will get the chance to do more sessions like this in the future.

Shots from the day

Here are some shots from the day, taken with the Nikon D500 and the Nikkor 80-400mm.

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Some of the participants photos from the day.

These are from Tricia Glass, well done Tricia!

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And thanks to Michael Berkeley for these great pictures:

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Here is a snippet of some glowing feedback we had from one of the attendees on the course, David Nevett:

“Many thanks to you and Castle Cameras for organising such a splendid day with NIkon and Toby.

John Clements was a brilliant presenter, he offered so many tips and techniques not found in instruction manuals by the amateurs like me.  

The provision by Nikon of so many suitable lenses, plus the opportunity to try them out on our own cameras was a bonus.  

In one day with Castle and Nikon, I have learned more about how to improve my images, tips on using the D500, and a hands on experience to discover which are the best lenses for my field work.”

If you would like to come along to the next event with Castle Cameras, follow us on facebook or twitter with @castlecameras or check the  events page on the website.

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