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Nature ’s Lil & Huge Guys
Written By: OC Fotoguy
*Click images below to view larger versions.
 Nature ’s Lil & Huge Guys
 Nature ’s Lil & Huge Guys
 Nature ’s Lil & Huge Guys
 Nature ’s Lil & Huge Guys
 Nature ’s Lil & Huge Guys
 Nature ’s Lil & Huge Guys
I see them occasionally, but in January and February when I’m usually here in Big Cypress ( for weeks at a time, but this year I’m here in December and may come back for a while in January after spending several weeks in the Florida Keys. I’ll be taking note of what different flowers, birds, and animals I’ll see and compare those sightings several weeks apart and with what I have seen in past visits. The weather and migrations effects nature, too. I expect it to be consistently warmer now than a month from now. These guys probably hibernate, but like our blue crabs, when there’s a warm week in the winter, they get up from their sleep and are active. I saw a couple my first day here, but this morning I’m seeing lots of them on the big palmetto leaves. I check the mid spine of the leaf near the trunk, that’s where I see most. I got some good photos, but they’re just like posed portraits - lil green tree frogs. 
Nothing special although one has stunning blue eyes; of course they’re unique to you and I and that’s enough, but here they’re nearly as common place as the geckos that scamper everywhere. For a photo of them to have impact I need more. Some action would be nice. They need to do something. Almost all of them I see are just sitting there and I can only hold the camera so long before it gets too heavy. I look down a palmetto leaf spine and OMG there’s four of them! Now there’s a challenge. This morning I have my tripod, which will allow long exposures, that can’t be hand held (more than 1/30 of a second).  This will saturate the colors, will enhance the sharpness of focus, and expand the in focal area, but can I get all of them in sharp focus? I’m using my 180mm close-up lens, which will allow me to get within inches for a 1:1 ratio or larger. With extreme closeness of an object as large as a tree frog, about the size of a half dollar, I’ll have less sharpness in the periphery of their bodies, so I need to keep that in mind.  Although the higher the number of the Fstop (2, 4.6, 8> 32) the more of the area is in focus and this is definitely true for intricacy of this lens.
I start to try get an access point over the edge of the large (several feet across) curved leaf where each of the four frogs are nearly an equal distance from the camera. I move from side to side and back and forth. I’m on a bank that slopes down to a swamp and there’s also several fire ant mounds to keep my feet out of or on, and I’m getting frustrated.  I’ll settle for at least all of the heads sharp, but that doesn’t happen. Once in awhile I almost get what I want and one of the frogs moves. I think they are conspiring to drive a human nuts!  Then one leaves the area, then another. I try for an action shot of them moving, but the tripod restricts my movement. I have another camera with the telephoto lens, but I can’t get a sharp photo closer than a meter (39”) from the subject, so it doesn’t help.    Maybe I should just shoot a long burst of a couple dozen photos and hope for a frog to jump or do something unique in the midst it. They rarely move; when they do it’s only for a split second and I don’t react fast enough. I consider shooting a video knowing 99 percent will be motionless, but the other 1 percent may give me that treasured photo. They are so calm, cool and relaxed.  I wonder if they’re amused by this human’s frustration. They’ve probably played this game before and know how to set up their formation to drive me nuts!
I’ve had enough; a couple more portrait posed shots will suffice for today’s effort. I  gather my stuff up, and walk on. I eat my oranges that I brought along for a snack and start back to camp pondering if doing a video could work. I get about half way back, where I have a folding chair stashed along the trail, set it up, put my gear on the ground, and I’m about to have a seat. I glance up the trail and OMG there’s huge bear crossing the trail about a 100 yards away. It’s only in view for a couple seconds; I stand there astounded with my mouth hanging open, and don’t even raise the camera! I have a seat knowing full well I’m going to miss something and that I’ll see much more than I photograph. The saving grace, though, is that even if I don’t see another bear here, what I’ve read promises that I will see more in British Columbia when I’m there in April. It’ll be an amazing escapade from here in America’s jungle, next to Key West, then to Cibola an oasis in the desert on the Az./Ca. border, then culminating with a 15-hour ferry ride up the coast of British Columbia, and then through remote territory to the Canadian Rockies, across their tops, and back to O.C.!  (written 12/15/12)
Traveling to British Columbia and/or Alaska will probably remain a dream just a little out of reach. I ran in to locals who live in the area I was going to visit and they recommended against going there in April, because the weather would have just been too cold to live in my nest (slide-in camper on a pickup truck), that has no heat. I watched the weather after I returned to O.C. in late March. It snowed and was miserable all along the U.S./Canadian border in April, and I’d have had to drive through all of that, so not going was a good call! 
My dreams, encounters with beasts of the wilds (panthers, bears, alligators, bobcats, etc.), all of which have shown me they’re not aggressive, discovering all those lil green tree frogs, and what Mother Nature has shown me will keep me coming back for more! As for this weekend, I’m escaping to the peace and serenity of the Miles River Area near the Chesapeake Bay, where I’ll kayak, bike, and enjoy after stocking up with good eats at the Amish Market in Easton.
Bob R  o.c.FotoGuy
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