The green frog, with his wonderful color and charming behavior, makes a great photo subject. They can be very shy when in the ponds and marshes where they live and it is often difficult to photograph them at their level. But, if you have a pond with frogs in your backyard, or if you know someone who does, it becomes a very different story. Strange as it may sound, it’s actually very easy to tame these frogs.
Take a five foot length of dowel (1/4″ thick) and saw a 2 inch slice through the middle of one end. Clamp a mealworm in this new split. Then, down by your pond, make a distinctive sound with a bell or a whistle. It doesn’t really matter what it is, as long as it’s always the same. Then offer the mealworms to the frogs. If the mealworm is wiggling, it will soon become a meal for the frogs. You repeat this a few times, every time with the same sound. The frogs are curious, and once they associate the sound with a free meal, they will instantly come swimming every time they hear it. It worked for Pavlov and his dogs, and it will work for you and your frogs. Of course, it is important that you never make the sound without a mealworm, because after a while, they won’t come any more.
The boldest frogs will always come first, but after a few days the others will catch on as well. Once this happens, hold the stick progressively closer to the mealworm, and after a time you’ll be able to hand-feed your frogs. The whole process shouldn’t take more than a week or two.
Once you reach this point in their training, the fun begins. Laying flat on the ground at the pond’s edge, you can capture beautiful images of these amusing creatures. Because the reflections in the water of sky, trees and bushes is always changing, you can get very different (and sometimes surprising) backgrounds. Now is the time to experiment with different lenses and apertures. And of course the use of polarization filters and fill-flash can have a profound influence on the final results.
The Pictures, Above: The blue sky is reflected in the frog’s skin, and yellow-green leaves create the color of the water. The whole image, and a detail of this frog’s eye can be seen in the Gallery, under Reptiles and Amphibians.
Left: A series of portraits. The one in the middle has a great reflection, and looks as if it could have been the inspiration for Kermit from the Muppets.
Bottom Left: When photographed from behind, you get a totally different image.
Bottom Center: Reflections of the sky provide the blue background color.
Bottom Right: To photograph the croaking, you’ll need quick reactions and a fast shutter speed.