Mountain Yellow Legged Frog on Pine Needle Raft

Critique Style Requested: Standard

The photographer is looking for generalized feedback about the aesthetic and technical qualities of their image.


Small and shallow, Matlock Lake sits a few hundred feet above the Kearsarge Pass Trail in the Eastern Sierra. Those (like myself) unwilling (or unable) to hike all the way to the pass can hike about halfway up, then take a spur trail south to a seldom visited lakes basin. I didn’t know Matlock would be teeming with endangered Mountain Yellow Legged Frogs. But I recalled that the Forest Service had been killing off introduced trout from selected Sierra lakes and re-establishing the frogs, which had been all but wiped out by the voracious, non-native fish. I saw no evidence of trout, so figured this must be a restored frog haven. Resting atop pine needles piled up by winds sweeping the lake, this little beauty never moved, allowing me time to compose a sharp shot. For giving me that Sierra moment and this shot, I could have kissed it.

Specific Feedback

I’m sharing partly just so others can enjoy this evidence of a successful endangered species project. But I’d be interested in comments on the crop and exposure. Maybe should have captured more shoreline features? Not sure if I should take down the brightness.

Technical Details

Olympus EM1 Mark II, F8, 1/500th, ISO 250, 300MM, handheld.

Beautiful, James. I love all the pine needles which is not the kind of habitat one thinks of for frogs. I’m not sure about the pano format for something like this. There may have been junk above or below that you wanted to eliminate, but it feels to me like it needs some more room at the top. Technically excellent with superb detail throughout.

Thank you, James, for the back story for this precious little fellow. I understand how special it must be for you. The pine needles are almost overwhelming to me. Maybe a small crop from the right and a bit more from the left would help. I do think adding a shore line, etc. might further detract from this little hero. I used a 2x3 crop with a vignette and a spotlight on the frog. I did it in the TK9 filters on PS. I don’t know if this still tells the story of how small this frog really is. When I look at the pano croup, I wonder. Just my thinking out loud.

I like your edit Barbara. I think the frog’s size is made obvious by the size of the needles. Thanks.

Thanks Dennis. Got similar feedback on the crop from another photographer. I’ll check the original files to see if I pulled back and captured more context.