How I Got the Shot: Greg Basco on Photographing a Frog in the Rain Forest
Take a moment and think: How do you think the above photo was shot? Can you figure it out? Was it all natural light? Was it cropped in post-production?
This jaw-dropping photo of a glass frog was shot by Greg Basco, who runs Deep Green Photography. We asked him how he shot the photo above, and here's his response, with a breakdown including a lighting diagram, and also the gear he used.
Greg often uses Canon gear. He and his friend had switched gear for the day just for the challenge, and also to keep up with the other brand's offerings. With that said, he was using Nikon gear.
Here's a link to his gear page.
How Greg Shot the Photo
Greg was out shooting with a friend in the Costa Rican cloud forest in May. That is the start of the rainy season, and is one of the best times to find the elusive glass frogs, which are looking to breed at the edges of rushing streams.
After dinner one night, he and his friend ventured out and found this Emerald Glass Frog.
Luckily, once you find them on a leaf, Greg says that they're actually pretty calm, if you don't disturb them too much.
In order to light this image, Greg used flashlights—three of them, in fact.
Greg already had a vision—he planned to use flashlights for a kind of otherworldly green glowing look. He often uses snoots and diffusers with flash in his tropical nature photography, but finds the look of flashlights to have a different and appealing quality for certain types of nocturnal macro shots.
Here's what Greg had to say about shooting this image:
"I chose to shoot at f11 in order to give me enough—but not too much—depth of field, as I wanted some of the leaf to taper off into a blurred look. This aperture also gave me a decent shutter speed (1/8), at a decent ISO (800), which was important because there's always a bit of breeze in the forest. Since I was using flashlights, I wouldn't have the motion-stopping benefits of flash."
"I used mirror lockup, and held a cable release in one hand and one flashlight in the other. My friend held the other two flashlights. The idea we had was to have the light shine mostly through the leaf, rather than directly on the frog, in order to give that green glowing look, and also to make sure that the leaf didn't receive any flat light. By adjusting the beam spread on the maglites, we were able to create some cool shadows and brighter areas."
Greg and his friend took turns shooting for a little while—seems that the frog was extremely calm.
According to Greg, the photo was not cropped. "I'm a big believer in composing in-camera. In post, I did some standard tone tweaks, and I cloned out a few annoying spots of dirt and grit on the leaf in Lightroom. But that was it," he said.
If you'd like to learn more, Greg gives tours through his company Foto Verde Tours. He also has prints for sale.
Disclaimer: The opinions expressed in this piece do not necessarily reflect the views of B&H Photo, Video, Pro Audio