Northern Spring Salamander in situ

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Zach Cava
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Northern Spring Salamander in situ

Post by Zach Cava » October 11th, 2016, 9:28 am

For my birthday I went on a solo night hike in Cattaraugus Co. NY and attempted my first nighttime herp-in-habitat shot (which was also my first time really trying to photograph salamanders). Any suggestions for improvement are appreciated! I had a hard time with salamanders spooking from the light of my headlamp—this was the only one that cooperated. Do people find that using a red light helps? How do others like to illuminate the background for night shots? Thanks!

—Zach


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Northern Spring Salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus porphyriticus), in situ by Zachary Cava, on Flickr




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Northern Spring Salamander (Gyrinophilus porphyriticus porphyriticus), in situ by Zachary Cava, on Flickr

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Re: Northern Spring Salamander in situ

Post by Zach_Lim » October 11th, 2016, 10:33 am

Very nice shots, man!

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Josh Holbrook
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Re: Northern Spring Salamander in situ

Post by Josh Holbrook » October 12th, 2016, 4:56 am

I like it. Since you wanted suggestions - if it were me taking the shot: I would go for a long exposure and put the salamander on an elevated rock or log that way I could fire two flashes - one to illuminate the subject, one to fill in the background. Looks good though!

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Zach Cava
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Re: Northern Spring Salamander in situ

Post by Zach Cava » October 12th, 2016, 8:13 am

Thank you guys - and Josh, I actually did have a flash on the salamander and a second one on the background. Wanted to do a true in situ shot though without moving the salamander.

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Re: Northern Spring Salamander in situ

Post by bgorum » October 12th, 2016, 11:46 am

Zach Cava wrote:Thank you guys - and Josh, I actually did have a flash on the salamander and a second one on the background. Wanted to do a true in situ shot though without moving the salamander.
Good choice! I think the posed pictures always look a little contrived and they really aren't being true to the animal's natural history and ecology. Just my personal opinion and I am well aware that many people disagree. As to the question of the red light, yes I think it disturbs the animals less. However, I'm not 100% sure if its because of the color, or just the fact that the red light on most headlamps, flashlights, etc is much less bright than the white light. I've often found using my headlamp on low also seems to disturb the animals less.

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Josh Holbrook
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Re: Northern Spring Salamander in situ

Post by Josh Holbrook » October 13th, 2016, 11:18 am

bgorum wrote:
Zach Cava wrote:Thank you guys - and Josh, I actually did have a flash on the salamander and a second one on the background. Wanted to do a true in situ shot though without moving the salamander.
Good choice! I think the posed pictures always look a little contrived and they really aren't being true to the animal's natural history and ecology. Just my personal opinion and I am well aware that many people disagree. As to the question of the red light, yes I think it disturbs the animals less. However, I'm not 100% sure if its because of the color, or just the fact that the red light on most headlamps, flashlights, etc is much less bright than the white light. I've often found using my headlamp on low also seems to disturb the animals less.

I don't disagree with your reasoning - in situs have their place; but as a general rule all the professional level herp photographers I know can/do pose most of their shots. Either way, it's a good picture nonetheless! You might consider keeping a spray bottle with distilled water to clean up the animal beforehand; if that's not undue manipulation by your preference, of course.

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Zach Cava
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Re: Northern Spring Salamander in situ

Post by Zach Cava » October 13th, 2016, 12:35 pm

Josh Holbrook wrote:
bgorum wrote:
Zach Cava wrote:Thank you guys - and Josh, I actually did have a flash on the salamander and a second one on the background. Wanted to do a true in situ shot though without moving the salamander.
Good choice! I think the posed pictures always look a little contrived and they really aren't being true to the animal's natural history and ecology. Just my personal opinion and I am well aware that many people disagree. As to the question of the red light, yes I think it disturbs the animals less. However, I'm not 100% sure if its because of the color, or just the fact that the red light on most headlamps, flashlights, etc is much less bright than the white light. I've often found using my headlamp on low also seems to disturb the animals less.

I don't disagree with your reasoning - in situs have their place; but as a general rule all the professional level herp photographers I know can/do pose most of their shots. Either way, it's a good picture nonetheless! You might consider keeping a spray bottle with distilled water to clean up the animal beforehand; if that's not undue manipulation by your preference, of course.
Right, I'm not totally opposed to some manipulation; part of my reasoning for not touching this one was that all the other salamanders I saw that night took off before I could even set up. Good tip with the water bottle, I have a small one just for that and forgot to bring it!

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Re: Northern Spring Salamander in situ

Post by Josh Holbrook » October 14th, 2016, 5:22 am

Zach Cava wrote:
Right, I'm not totally opposed to some manipulation; part of my reasoning for not touching this one was that all the other salamanders I saw that night took off before I could even set up. Good tip with the water bottle, I have a small one just for that and forgot to bring it!
I understand - remembering what I have at my disposal is the battle I most often lose!

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