You can learn a lot from a frog…
My backyard pond is home, at any one time, to 5-7 Green Frogs. Occasionally other species show up, but they either a) eat the other frogs and leave, or 2) get eaten. Either way, the ecosystem in the pond pretty much reverts back to Green Frogs sooner or later.
Frogs are very patient animals. They are the amphibian equivalent of a leopard sitting in a tree all day long waiting for the antelope to just wander a… tiny… bit… closer! Instead of antelope, they’re after flies or other insects.
Frogs are either super-cool and practically let you bump the lens on them — or they are flying across the pond, diving for cover when you get within 20 feet of them. Either way, because of how their eyes are situated on their head you have a pretty clear sense that you are being watched and evaluated at all times — and those seemingly spring-loaded legs will fire at any moment.
Photography, and particularly outdoor/nature photography, requires the photographer to be patient. Sometimes the patience is simply moving slowly towards a subject so that the animal isn’t stressed out. Sometimes the patience is waiting for some behavior to occur – with no guaranties that it’ll happen. Sometimes the patience is knowing that, in a few minutes, if the gods aren’t against you, the light will be just right. Sometimes that afternoon snack lands on the lily pad you’ve got staked out and sometimes you watch the sun go down hungry for a meal. One thing for sure — you have to be engaged in your environment: there’s no “calling for take out”.
[Update: As luck would have it, Juan Pons recently posted an article apropos to this photograph. Juan talks about the importance of getting at the eye level of your subject. Visit [url]http://wildnaturephoto.com/2009/09/24/connecting-with-your-subject/trackback[/url] for some good advice.]
Image captured with a Canon 5D Mark II, 500mm f/4L lens (and I’m going out on a limb here and guessing that I had at least one closeup ring on the rig.) ISO 200, 1/320 second, f/4.0
Post processing with Lightroom: Cropped a bit off the bottom and a wee bit off the right. The bottom was just more out-of-focus leaves and didn’t contribute to either the composition or as depth cues. To push attention to the frog itself I employed two exposure modifications: A 1-stop graduated filter was applied to the top 2/3rds of the image. Then I added a small amount of (post-crop) vignetting – again, just to nudge the eye a bit closer to the subject. (Image below is SOOTC for comparison purposes. The 500 and the full-frame 5D exhibits a bit of vignetting.)