Nearby - Right here in my yard so I can go out between the late news and bedtime, while the pizza is in the oven, or while
the computer is taking too long to do something. Any time of day or night I can go out the back door and walk 50 feet and
find a frog, without fail (during frog season, April to October). I get many of my best portraits because I go out frequently and
just show up at the right time when something interesting happens to be happening.
Manicured - Trimmed lawn right down to the water’s edge, giving the advantages of ...
- No trekking through tall vegetation or soggy ground, so getting a good frog is as easy as getting the mail
- A clear view of frogs that are near or on the shore, which is where they mostly hang out
My night camera is this Sony DSC-F707 (circa 2001), which allows me to find my target in the dark. It is no longer
in production, but it is so essential to this project that I bought another one on the used market to have for backup.
(That left frog is the same one as the September 29 Frog of the Day, "Tasted like chicken" )
My day camera is the Canon PowerShot S3. It’s a newer camera with image stabilization,
higher optical zoom, and a more agile viewscreen, so I use this one for everything except night work.
Both of these cameras were gifts from astute camera-shoppers who knew
what to look for. If my benefactors are reading this, you know who
you are, and thank you for your contribution to the project!
3 A tripod
You wouldn't think a tripod would be particularly useful for animals as fast-moving as frogs, but the reality is that most of the
time they just sit there, very still, waiting for the next meal to show up – slow shutter speeds are therefore no problem. I didn't
start using a tripod until 2009, and it has allowed me to get many shots I wouldn't otherwise get, particularly when the frog
is at a distance or light is low.
Direct sun is generally bad light for what I'm doing (wet reflections and highlights get washed out, shadows are too dark), so
I typically will set up the tripod and wait for a cloud to calm down the light. If it's a particularly dim situation, I use the timer so I
don't have to worry about button-pressing wiggle.
Long exposures with a tripod allow for (1) low – i.e., "slow" – ISO setting of 80 to minimize that crunchy digital "noise" in low
light and (2) maximum depth of field, which is nice for some portraits.
Shooting in the lilypad patch
This means dedicated jeans for the job – preferably black – so I don't care if I get muddy when I sit or kneel to get the shot.
Later in the summer when the shoreline recedes and leaves a mud “beach," boots become essential in order to get close to the action. Interestingly, boots don’t let me wade INTO the water, because the bottom is undefined and sucky-soft – I learned this the hard way! If you step into the zone of bottomless muck, you have to pull out of your boot and squish back to shore with a soggy sock! (Or maybe loose your balance with TWO stuck feet, and sit down in the mud.)
Thank goodness for washing machines !
To get a little further out into the soft stuff, I lay down a square of plywood
like a "snowshoe" to stand on
To get the good ones, I need to get out there often – even if sometimes I don’t really feel like it – to make sure I don’t miss whatever surprise may be waiting. The animals do their thing whenever THEY feel like it, and if I'm not there to shoot it, it’s lost.
Once I’ve got a frog in my sights, I don’t give up until I get the
“good one” ... or until the subject leaves the scene!
Digital cameras and exploding storage capacities make this
strategy of "shoot-'til-you-get-it-right" both easy and affordable.