Wednesday, June 23, 2004
Frog Photo Safari
As I mentioned on Monday, I discovered that the little goldfish pond in back of our office building is also the home of several Green Frogs, Rana clamitans melanota. They're really handsome critters, classically froggy-looking and about three to four inches long, with iridescent green markings on their snout and jaw.
That photo at the bottom of Monday's post was taken from about one-eigth of the frame - I just couldn't get very close to these guys before they got nervouse and jumped away. The only lens I have at the moment is the "kit lens" 18-55mm zoom that came with the Digital Rebel. It's equivalent, at the long end, to an 89mm lens on a 35mm camera - very handy for general shooting, but too short to get a decent frog image without getting really close.
Wanting to get closer, I brought my tripod with me yesterday and tried to use it as a boom on which to mount my camera. The idea was to use the "boom" to get the lens closer to the frogs, triggering the shutter with a remote release.
Well, it just didn't work for me - I got quite a few out-of-focus pictures - mostly of empty pond water with a few aquatic plants. I just wasn't able to aim it properly, and the autofocus wouldn't lock onto my intended subjects.
Abandoning the tripod/boom idea, I went back to standing at the edge of the pond and squatting down to take the photos. I finally hit on a technique that worked well: I'd look through the viewfinder and let the autofocus lock on the frog, then snap a preliminary image. Then I'd slowly move the camea away from my eye and straight towards the frog, trying to keep the red dot of the central focusing spot in view through the dwindling "window" of the viewfinder. Every few inches, I'd stop along the way and take an exposure.
Maybe this seemed less threatening to the frogs than bending right over them, or maybe they're just getting more used to me, but I was able to get a few properly-aimed and properly-focused shots near the lens' closest-focusing distance with the lens zoomed out fully on the telephoto end. It was hot in the sun, and I was schvitzing, but it was worth it.
Like last month's cicada photos, I'm very happy with these images, and a bit surprised as well. Surprised because in my camera-toting youth, I normally wouldn't have bothered to snap even an easy-to-grab picture of such small animals, let alone go to any trouble to get them. But these kinds of things really delight me now. I think the credit goes to Steve Irwin, of "Crocodile Hunter" fame. When I first was exposed to his series in early 2000, I found his enthusiasm infectious.
So yesterday, while shooting the frogs, I found myself saying, out loud and in a poor imitation Queensland accent, "... you're all right mate!", and "...isn't he GOOOAW-jess!"
A New Photoblog
Every few days, I scan the "Recently Added" list at photoblog.org to see who's doing what. Also, I figure that as thrilled as I am when I find that someone has actually looked at my blog, why not post a comment or two on someone else's newly-hatched blog.
One new blog that caught my eye yesterday, probably because I like the attitude implied by it's title, is Greg's beauty in the ordinary photoblog. Greg says in his first post,
Ok, so here it is. My first picture, my first note...
The idea is to force myself to publish a picture every day. To throw some discipline upon myself. To get myself to go out there and take pictures. No matter if I feel like it or not...
Seeing as how Greg is trying to do what I'm trying to do, and publically putting himself on the line with his very first post, I'm going to keep checking back over the next few days to see how he's doing. Good luck, Greg!
I should mention that the other photoblog I check almost every day is The Mother Of All Photoblogs, Black and White Photography : Dave Beckerman. Actually this link is for his website - when you get there, you'll see his Photography Blog link at the right of the screen. Dave's site has been there for years, and his online journal predates, I think, the blogging phenonmenon. Take the time to look at his amazing B&W photos, then jump in and start following his blog. You'll be inspired.