Archive for Tree Frog

Night Critters

Posted in Photography Technique with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on March 10, 2014 by chamimage
Red-eyed Tree Frog

Red-eyed Tree Frog

Night macro wildlife photography is the most technically challenging for me. We made several forays into the night in Costa Rica in December.

There is a balance between depth of field and high ISO noise that is a problem even with our newer cameras that do better at noise suppression at high ISO’s.

Sleeping red-eyed Tree Frog

Sleeping red-eyed Tree Frog

I usually err on the side of narrow depth of field. Higher ISO images look fine on a computer screen, but are throw-away’s if you look at them in full size. Spiders are especially problematic because they are small and the closer you have to get the narrower the depth of field. Not to mention the risk that the spider might jump onto you in the dark.

Drab Tree Frog

Drab Tree Frog

It helps to have a big, bright flashlight when looking for these critters. Then it helps to have LCD video light panels to keep them illuminated while trying to focus the camera. Obviously it is almost impossible without at least two people, unless you are especially good at aiming a flashlight and holding camera at the same. I tried it. It’s not easy.

Turnip-tailed Gecko

Turnip-tailed Gecko

Some of these guys bite. I guess I am surprised that they don’t bite more often than they do. You can see in the image above that someone is holding an LCD light panel behind and my macro flash is acting as front fill.

Gecjo Silhouette

Gecko Silhouette

The silhouette through a banana leaf is a bit of a cliche, but you have to do it.

Smoky Jungle Frog

Smoky Jungle Frog

This guy was huge so was actually the creepiest critter of the night for me. He secretes toxins through his skin. I didn’t know that at the time, but it is always a good idea to wash your hands as soon as possible if you handle a frog or lizard in the tropics. Usually the worse that will happen is you will get nauseous.

The Nikon R1C1 macro flash system is a Godsend with these macro shots in low light. I use it on macro shots even during the day at lower power. At night it takes full power so bring lots of batteries because they will go fast. Bring two flashlights because you really don’t want to be out there in the rain forest in the dark with a dead flashlight. It’s not really dangerous, but try telling that to your pounding heart.




Posted in 1 with tags , , , , , , , , , on June 24, 2013 by chamimage
Vervet Monkey

Vervet Monkey

Up until now I have not had a good way to sell prints of my photographs other than the local gallery. I have a stock photography site that is headquartered in England so they are no help. I didn’t like the structure of 500px for selling prints.

I have decided to give Fine Art America a try, mainly because I know a couple of photographers that are using it. I haven’t really researched SmugMug as an option, but I may develop a portfolio site on Squarespace some day and they integrate with SmugMug.

For now give the new site a look and see what you think at I like that there are lots of options for canvas, metal or framed, as well as gift cards. I will keep you posted on how it works out.

I am excited that my images on Getty should be freed up to put on the new site in the next few weeks so there will be a sudden surge in quantity of images when that happens.

Red-eyed TGree Frog

Red-eyed Tree Frog

The Practical Joke

Posted in Photo Stories with tags , , , , , , , on December 26, 2012 by chamimage
Red-eyed Tree Frog

Red-eyed Tree Frog

I’m not much of a practical joker, but once in a while someone innocently sets one up and it really seems a shame to waste a ripe opportunity. Just such an opportunity presented itself to me last week.

I have framed photographic prints on the walls at work. In one hallway are a half dozen of them and as part of her Christmas-ification program after Thanksgiving my assistant likes to take them down and gift wrap them and hang them back up in her spare time, which she apparently has way too much of.

These six framed prints have been there longer than I care to admit. Most of them were shot on film and switched to digital in 2006. One is from Laos in 2003. Not that they are bad images, they have just been there for years and everyone is prone to ignore them.

I sensed an opportunity to hang new prints and have a little fun at the same time, so I went in last weekend and carefully unwrapped each print and replaced it with a new one and carefully re-wrapped them. I left a couple of them; one because it is the most discussed image of a pool with an eddy of autumn leaves in front of a waterfall and every body wants to know how I did it (threw everything in the bag in front of the lens that would slow the shutter speed because you could barely notice the eddy with the naked eye). The other was an 8.5 x 11 from France and I didn’t bring an 8.5 x 11 with me.

Japanese Garden

Japanese Garden

This morning I thought I had blown it because I also hung new prints elsewhere and they were noticed right away. Should have waited to change those. But when my assistant unwrapped the first two they were the two old ones so her surprise when she unwrapped the third one was genuine. I told her the rest would be just like Christmas all over again because she didn’t know what to expect.

Truck Full O' Muddy Dogs

Truck Full O’ Muddy Dogs

In the end what saved me was that she couldn’t believe I would actually go to the trouble of re-wrapping all of those prints.

Like I said, these prints are pretty old. The yellow lab above has passed on from congestive heart failure. The golden retriever is looking kind of wary because the yellow lab is the alpha and not above playing a few practical jokes of his own and being trapped in the back of a pickup with him is not the golden retrievers idea of a good time. Actually the black female is the real alpha, she just lets the lab think he is. Any perceived infraction and she will let him have it. Even if he strayed too far out and had to be called back, she would be there waiting to light into him for it. She was my enforcer. She’s mellowed a bit with age. It all just rolls off of her now.

Big Ben_London

Big Ben_London


Posted in Philosophy and Spirituality with tags , , , , , , on March 12, 2012 by chamimage

It takes time. According to one book you need to do something 10,000 times to be proficient at it. This is not what people want to hear in our age of instant gratification. If you are passionate about it, you’ll be happy to put in the time.

“Even Mozart, with all of is innate skills, his passion for music, and his father’s devoted tutelage, needed to get twenty-four symphonies under his belt before he composed something enduring with number twenty-five”

Twyla Tharp in The Creative Habit

Red-eyed Tree Frog_Costa Rica

The Latest

Posted in Photo Stories with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 28, 2010 by chamimage

Red-eyed Tree Frog

I am on call this week so not many new images. I am editing Costa Rica images (believe it or not, I mean I only took them in December for crying out loud) like crazy to try to keep up before the next few weeks worth of new images are added. Next weekend is rodeo weekend.

This little guy is kind of sleepy, being a nocturnal dude rudely awakened during his daytime sleep period. I used the 105mm macro with two macro flashes on the end of the lens. I also added a small video light from below for a beauty light. Love the lacy eye covering. Hard to get it when it covers his eye, yet he still hasn’t shut his eyelids.

Strawberry Poison-dart Frog

This guy is a lot smaller than the frog above. Photographed him before breakfast one morning. I think I waited a bit too long before washing my hands after handling him. Felt like breakfast might not be staying down for a minute there. He was plenty lively and liked to hop off of his leaf.


These guys are also called “Jesus Christ” lizards because they walk on water. They actually run. It is pretty cool in person because it is so noisy and fast. They are usually running down a butterfly and are usually successful. One of the photographic challenges I faced in Costa Rica, besides dark rain forest and bright sky, was shooting from a moving boat in the Rio Frio River, seen in the background here.

Palm Tanager

I had no idea there were so many varieties of tanagers until I went to Costa Rica. This was one of the few that wasn’t colorful, but he made a nice subject while he was jawing at me. Actually he was jawing at the other birds. They tend to feed in mixed flocks. There is safety in numbers and they tend to bunch up wherever there is something ripe. The food supply in Costa Rica is constant, but scattered here and there. The birds that migrate here do it for the abundance we have all at once during nesting season.

Tent-making Bats

These guys make a tent by biting the stem of a cecropia leaf or banana leaf so it droops over. As you can see it works pretty good for keeping the rain and sun off while they sleep through the day. They eat mostly fruit, but will take a bug.

Now, only 23 more day shoots worth of files to edit.

Photographic Sins

Posted in Photo Gear, Photo Stories, Photography Technique, Travel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 15, 2010 by chamimage

Strawberry Poison-dart Frog in Costa Rica

On National Geographic photographer Joe McNally’s blog recently he invited readers to submit to him their most heinous photographic sins. I am not sure what he is going to do with them, other than get a good chuckle at all of the lunkhead things we do out there from day to day. Maybe he is going to absolve us all of our transgressions or maybe he is going to make them into an easy book. This photograph represents one of my more recent falls from grace. I love the image, but have put off working on it in Photoshop because of all of the work I had made for myself. Here is the before image. You will see what I mean.

Dirty Frog

Now, we are in the rainforest and everyone has a water bottle, so why did nobody think to clean this little fellow and his mushroom up a bit before taking his photograph? I mean, he’s a frog. He likes water. It is just amazing what you can overlook in that viewfinder. A couple of little squirts and I would have saved an hour of cleanup the hard way.

My worst photographic sin was not an original one, but it was costly. I used to have my ball head tension knob and camera mounting tightener both sticking out on the left side…until July of 2002. I was tooling down the road in the early morning in Glacier National Park just past Lake McDonald and I came across a nice cow moose foraging in a small pond by the side of the road. I pulled over, set up my tripod, set my Nikon N90s with a 500 mm f/4 Nikon telephoto on the ball head and tightened… the wrong screw. As I turned back to the car to get my vest I heard the worst noise known to photography, a Nikon body and telephoto lens going to ground from eyeball height. Things looked surprisingly unaffected. I remounted the camera and lens and took my photographs. Not great photos, and certainly not worth sacrificing a camera body for.

Cow Moose, Glacier National Park It wasn’t until the next spring photographing Sage grouse in Wyoming that my N90s suddenly decided it didn’t want to advance my film at any old time during any given roll. It developed enough tension on the film that it would trigger the auto-rewinder to rewind the film at frame 12 or 16 or 8. I sent the body in to Nikon to see if they could solve my problem. I figured it just needed a good cleaning. The message I received from Nikon Support was an obituary for the N90s, saying it had somehow gotten a bent frame and could not, in good conscience, be resuscitated. My past sins had caught up with me. I knew exactly how that frame had gotten itself bent and it made sense that it would affect the tension on the film having landed high on the left hand side where the film spool resided. I had no alternative but to replace the N90s, the first Nikon I ever owned, my faithful companion since I bought it used from Laurie Excel in 1998, with a reconditioned F100, which had a few quirks of its own.

I could write a book about my photographic sins, alone. I will commit more. It is inevitable. None of us are perfect and in the heat of battle we get buck fever, or leave our tripod unattended on a windy day to take a pee or…

Red-Eyed Tree Frog

Posted in Photography Technique with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 11, 2009 by chamimage

Red-eyed Tree Frog on Heliconius Flower

I spent nine days photographing wildlife in Costa Rica. I returned today to freezing temperatures and freezing rain tonight. Even tougher, I return to Christmas season in full swing, with our office Christmas party today. There were a few wreaths and Christmas trees in Costa Rica, but they seemed out of place in the setting of banana trees and ninety degree heat and humidity somehow.

At home I go out and photograph wildlife in situ, wherever I find it. We did a fair share of that in Costa Rica, finding several sloths and howler monkeys, but we also did a lot of table top type set-ups and bird feeder photography, which is very new for me. It is hard to get a bison or grizzly to pose on a table top for you, but when you are dealing with small frogs and snakes, it is possible to transport them a short distance to a more convenient place for a photograph. That was usually a hastily set up branch or flower clamped to a table or tripod with a clamp (Wimberley Plamp).

This tree frog was an example. He lived within 100 feet of where we photographed him and was returned to his home leaf afterward. He didn’t seem terribly stressed. The hardest part was keeping him awake for the short session since he is nocturnal and just wanted to go back to sleep.

There are two strategies for the birds in the rain forest. They feed on whatever tree is in fruit at the moment so casting about looking for birds is hit and miss. The fruit trees don’t all ripen at the same time like they do in the temperate forest, they ripen randomly here and there all year round. We did find a couple of fruiting trees and that worked well for toucans and resplendent quetzals. More commonly, there were feeding stations set up to attract them and the birds were photographed while staging, awaiting their turn at the fruit. You could photograph them feeding if you really like pictures of bee-covered bananas and mangoes, I suppose.

Costa Rica was beautiful. The photography was difficult due to low light and flighty subjects. For the smaller critters like the tree frog a macro lens with a ring light was the best solution. In his session we found that adding a small battery-operated video light for a beauty light worked out nicely. You can see it reflected in his eye.

I didn’t take many landscapes and may need to go back and work on that at some other time because I would like the challenge of trying to reveal the essence of the rain forest on pixels. It would be very challenging due to the heavy contrast and the profusion of greenery. How to make order out of all of that chaos would be the challenge.  The focus of this trip was wildlife and I didn’t usually have the right lens with me for good landscapes. You tend to limit the load when it is ninety degrees and 100% humidity and every movement results in profuse sweating (and you never dry out in all that humidity). And you are already packing a 600 mm lens and D3 body and Wimberley head.

We were in Costa Rica at the end of the wet season and beginning of the dry season so it was very green, and wet. It showers every day for short periods. Using an umbrella seemed the best solution to rain. We went at this time, also, because the resplendent quetzals were in breeding plumage, a very spectacular site. I will post my photos of them in another post so stay tuned.