Yellow toes

So, this is more a topic for discussion than a real critique, but do that, too. My dilemma is how long to ‘bother’ wildlife like this little toad to get the best image. Come August the woods are littered with new toads and I try not to scare them too much and I don’t use artificial light with them either. While I like this shot, I wish the other front foot was visible on top of the stick. You can see it behind and out of focus. IRL it’s about 2cm long and quite cooperative as far as it went, but I think it was afraid, too and I don’t want to stress them too much so I let it be before it moved the foot.

Any thoughts, experience or ideas are welcome. And of course it doesn’t just apply to this species, but all the small dudes - specifically when using a macro. I have a couple of longer telephotos that would have worked…kinda, but sometimes just don’t have the magnification a macro gives.

Specific Feedback Requested

Is the background too busy? I couldn’t clean it in the field and I’m not an ace with Ps, so I didn’t try to do it digitally. I wanted enough DOF to get the critter’s wee face in focus, but not to have a crispy background. Also, is there enough space for it to “move” through in front or is it too closely cropped?

Technical Details

Is this a composite: No
Panasonic Lumix G9
Leica DG 45mm f2.8 macro
Handheld right on the ground
f6.3, 1/20 sec, ISO 500
shade of my house in the back garden - natural light, no reflector
single image, no stacking
minimal processing in Lr for clarity, contrast and sharpness

Kristen, I really do appreciate your comments shared of your feelings towards not scaring the little critters we photograph in the macro world. I too am concerned about this, as we must seem like huge giants, not to mention all of the gear we have too. I try to move in very slowly, even talk gently to some critters, like dragonflies, and it seems to help them, I think. Just a gently soothing voice. If that doesn’t help, and they seem stressed, I might back off some, or just wait in position to see their reaction, and if they seem more comfortable, try to get a shot. A longer macro lens, like my Canon 180 mm macro does help to not stress them as much, since I don’t have to get as close to them. Also in this case, it would probably have helped with the background being more out of focus. I am fine with your background as displayed though. It doesn’t seem too busy.

I have used flash with a diffuser, and it doesn’t seem to disturb any of the small creatures that I have used it on. I just use it for fill flash, so not as bright as it could be.

Yes, the right foot would have been nice, but even in my talking to them, I haven’t managed to talk one into posing just right! :grinning:

As for the space on the left to give him room to move, I think if you were to crop just a tiny bit off of the right side, it would seem like more room on the right. Just a thought. Great capture, and sounds like they will give you more opportunities in the future, since they do hang out in your area.

1 Like

Thanks, Shirley. We don’t lack for frogs or toads up this way for sure. I’m such a softie about them that I walk ahead of my husband as he mows the lawn - I’ve become a herp herder! Any large frog that can hop on its own to safety I guide it along, but these little ones I have to handle to get them away. They are so tiny they sort of lose their oomph. Even spring peepers can poop out.

I think I absently talk to them, but not deliberately. I’m such a weirdo that way. Never tried it with dragonflies though. I live on the water and every year around Memorial day the big species come ashore and shuck off their larvae forms and become adults. It’s fascinating and I spend a lot of time with a 100-300 mm lens taking shots of the process.

Kristen: Really nice job on this. It is tough to get good frame filling shots on small critters with short focal length lenses. I do about 90% or more of my macro work with a 200mm lens and the rest with a 100mm or a 100-400 with extension tubes. Other advantages of longer lenses are the narrower fields of view which allows better control of the BG and the 200mm and 100-400 have tripod collars. This shot works for me because the focus on the eye is spot on and that’s where my vision goes immediately. If you had not mentioned the other foot I would have never noticed but even then for me it’s a non-issue. Great to have you aboard and looking forward to more of your work. >=))>

Kristen, this is a fine look at this little toad. The sharpness is where it needs to be and the background is nicely soft. It’s commonly thought among wildlife professionals, that if the animal is reacting to you, then you’re bothering it and need to back off. That idea is also commonly ignored by photographers seeking to get a frame filling animal shot. As Bill and Shirley have said, your presence is much reduced by using a longer focal length lens. Short macro lenses like your DG 45 are outstanding for working with things like flowers and when you want more depth-of-field, but most small critters will move away when your lens gets withing a few inches of it. BTW, toads are pretty tolerant of people, so you may not have bothered this little one. It’s also true that each animal is an individual, some will move away well before you get close and others of the same species will let you get to minimum focus distance… :man_shrugging:

Thanks guys. My other macro is a 90mm and has a longer working distance, but it’s a manual lens so these ‘grab shots’ are a little more challenging. I’ll keep working it and being sensitive to my subjects.