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Explore the secrets of creative amphibian portraits as we learn how to photograph the common toad
Tags:Photographing a Common Toad,andy langley,animal photography,go wild tv,how to photograph amphibians,how to photograph common toad,mark hamblin,photography tutorials,wildlife photography
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The great time to photograph frogs and toads is at the end of the breeding season, you won’t see females are finished blooming, and I’ve come down this morning to a local pond to see if I can find some and adults, probably mainly males which is still lurking around the edges of the pond here and they’ll provide the ideal subject for some nice close-up work. Today we’re basically going to be setting up a night door studio, and in front of me here I’ve got a beautiful mossy log which will provide the perfect prop and for photographing the toad in close-up. One after with this particular type of shot is a nice close-up portrait of the toad, and for that I’m going to be using a 180 macro lens which is ideal obviously close focusing, allows to go in really tight on the toad, rear and right here on its size, if I choose to do so. Past the old wildlife, the welfare of the subject must come first and to help me try and catch a toad this morning, I’m going to use a small handy net which allow me to safely and quickly take the toad from the water and bring it over to the set here. if you have any doubts that’s all about handling amphibians that it’s always best to seek professional help, one thing that you can do is to go out on a guided walk with the arranger, and then they’ll have to show you the frogs or the toads, or other amphibians and show you how to handle those on the correct manner. Okay so, for the close-up shot that I’m after here, just placing the toads form not so close to the camera and face on, I’m going in really tight, I’m just going to focus on the eyes there. So I’m just going to look here just to get the shot framed up to start with, and the important thing to try and do with this type of shot is to get the two eyes in the same plain of focus. The toad here is staying lovely and still for me so it’s giving me plenty of opportunity to line up the camera very, very precisely; we need to get enough depth of fields to get the eye in the focus, but not too much to bring the rest of the toad in, so for this type of shot, I tend to select an aperture around f5.6 or f8, now the toad as you can see is quite dark in color, so in terms of exposure, the best thing to do here really is to just ring across and take a meter reading of the fairly neutral color of moss and brown, just to one side of the toad. I’m going to set that exposure manually and that will give me a good basic exposure if I have to photograph a toad. So that is giving me f8 1/30th of a second, which isn’t particularly fast, but obviously the toad here is pretty much static so the shutter speed is not too crucial. I’m shooting here, it’s an ISO 200, which will give me a nice clean image without any noise; again just check the histogram on the back and I can see that the exposure is pretty much spot on, so really it’s a matter of taking a few shots and just be confident right that I’ve got the picture in the bank. When you’re working with amphibians, particularly a toad, and more particularly with frogs, it can be quite a problem with flare and reflections burning up the surface of the animal. The best way to avoid those problems is to use a polarizing filter, and that will cut down the glare considerably from the surface of the toad’s skin. We could have been so close from the toad here, one thing I do need to be careful of is not to get any movement in the throat patch, so again when you take any shots you need to pay attention also to the fact that there is movement in the picture, we just wait until the throat patch is stationary before we take in the picture itself. The toad here is out from the water which is perfectly half away, there is no problem there whatsoever, particular on the cast day, like today, in fact it’s just after the rain so the toad is staying nice and moist, but what we wouldn’t want to keep it that here for too long and once I’ve got a few shots then I’m confident that the exposure’s right and the composition is good, then we just pick the toad back up and we can just very gently just take them back into the water and put him back in where we found him, and there he goes back into the leaf, see you sometime. We’ve got a good session with the toad here, that’s a nice close-up portrait which is really what we’re after this morning and as you can see now it’s starting to rain pretty heavily, so I’m going to pack up my gear and off back home. When you’re shooting a lot of images, there’s always one or two which will stand out, even if it’s the same shot which you’ve taken over and over, and the toad will be fairly static, it’s constantly moving, it’s throat is moving up and down so there’s a bit of movement in the picture for one thing; and though shooting it fairly slow shutter speed on that particular day, so you can easily run into problems with camera shake. And from that particular day, I think I probably shot 50-60 images, and if I get to catch one, all the other’s pretty much identical, but this one was a sharpest on the eyes and there’s no movement in the toad itself. Toads were subjects which are their moisture is and around so they’d mark triple time, is the perfect time to do them just after the breeding season, actually I visited the same pool and further after, males and females just post breeding, the shot here was taken on a very similar set up as the one this year, and it’s slightly better in terms of the fact that the toad is bit more alert-looking, it’s raised upon its front legs, and just give it the picture a little bit more impact, a bit more dynamic, and also because the head is well clear of the mossy mound, it makes it stand out much more from the background. Couple other shots to look at, the first one is an even tighter portrait from a slightly different angle rather sort of head-on , it’s slightly elevated here looking down on the toad, but the very similar technique, again, extreme macro shot focus, differential focus and by that we mean, the focus point is just on the eyes and nothing else, so foreground and background is either focused and the impact is all on the eyes. The final shot of the sequence was taken using a prop and it’s something that I often do particular with toads because they’re fairly easy to handle without causing many stress, you can put them into different situations and just get something a little bit different, some may slide this shot a bit gimmicky, a bit tweed, that’s for sure, and I’m, but I just put the toad inside a flower pot, one just to give it that sort of an urban feel really, the toad’s very much a creature which you find in garden environment, so it’s not out of place. The shot in was after was of the toad actually coming out of the pot, but what actually happened to it is it came out halfway and stopped. It just came in as rather quirky shot where I could just see one eye peering around the edges of the flower pot which was perfect really with a bit of humor touched the picture as well, so it worked really well. Garden ponds are a great (interrupted sentence).