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Common Lizards 2014

Printed From: Reptiles and Amphibians of the UK
Category: Herpetofauna Native to the UK
Forum Name: Common Lizard
Forum Description: Forum for all issues concerning Lacerta vivipara
Printed Date: 24 Sep 2020 at 3:17pm
Software Version: Web Wiz Forums 11.06 -

Topic: Common Lizards 2014
Posted By: GemmaJF
Subject: Common Lizards 2014
Date Posted: 06 Mar 2014 at 3:19pm
Thought I might start a new common lizard thread for 2014. One from the garden, was playing with the post processing of the RAW image in DPP to remind myself what it does LOL

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 06 Mar 2014 at 3:37pm
And another, would have been infinitely better with more light and more DOF in my own opinion, should have gone to a higher ISO setting really when the sun went in, but best of today's efforts.

Posted By: SteveA
Date Posted: 07 Mar 2014 at 12:27pm
Amazing pics!
Our first Commons out on Wednesday, one which must have been inches away from having its hibernacula flooded out.
Its really warm in sun today and forcast suggests most of us will be seeing them over the weekend. Let the serious Herping begin!

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 07 Mar 2014 at 2:33pm
One from today, got to look through the rest, but this was an obvious 'keeper'

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 07 Mar 2014 at 3:12pm
Couple more from today

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I think the deal with the last one is, 'OK I've had enough of you now, not coming out again until you go away!'

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 07 Mar 2014 at 3:29pm
Originally posted by SteveA SteveA wrote:

Amazing pics!
Our first Commons out on Wednesday, one which must have been inches away from having its hibernacula flooded out.
Its really warm in sun today and forcast suggests most of us will be seeing them over the weekend. Let the serious Herping begin!

Same here first sighting on Wednesday, sun broke this afternoon and I had all life stages coming out to warm up in about half an hour!

Nice early start required tomorrow before it gets 'too' warm. Sounds daft saying that in March!

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 07 Mar 2014 at 4:44pm
One more for today, just a full size of the first one, looking at noise and considering ISO

Shot settings Tv 1/320 Av 10 ISO 400 - would like to push the ISO for a sharper image (faster shutter), not sure if I'm already on the limit? This is the EF-S 60mm in full sunlight. So opinions appreciated Tim and others!

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Posted By: Tom Omlette
Date Posted: 07 Mar 2014 at 8:00pm
the pics are looking great gemma. i think you can go higher iso but you'll need to de-noise in pp.  

just an opinion but this is my basic technique. i use some form of support. bean bags and monopods are a little cumbersome but well worth the effort. of course tripod is best but not always practical. i even use support when shooting fast shutter speeds. 

i always shoot in manual. set the shutter speed to 1000th and aperture according to the dof i want. for a small animal portrait for example f5.6 to isolate a particular feature like the eye going smaller (larger f number) the more of the rest of the subject i want in focus but bearing in mind i might also want a nice blurry background. f8 to f11 is my usual range. i set base iso to 100 but have auto iso on so the camera can increase it if it needs to which it often does in duller conditions. i set the max iso to 800. i am effectively using the auto iso to mediate exposure rather than shutter speed or aperture. take a test shot just to make sure its not underexposing and away i go. 

camera shake and motion must be the worst enemy of sharp images, thats why support and fast shutter speeds make such a difference, especially the closer you get. a fraction of a millimeter can make be noticeable. 

i don't often use it but flash can also be helpful, even in bright conditions. the flash burst will be around 1000th of a second so it doesn't really matter what your camera's flash sync speed is and a max shutter speed of 250th would be fine. obviously the closer you are to the subject the more this applies though. i think direct flash can be harsh though so some kind of diffuser gives much better results.

pp may be frowned on by some but i think its essential. a little sharpening and noise reduction at the very least. i use lightroom for everything.

just some thoughts

Posted By: Tom Omlette
Date Posted: 07 Mar 2014 at 8:13pm
a little bit of sharpening band noise reduction...perhaps a bit too much?

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 07 Mar 2014 at 9:49pm
Cheers timtom, I've been using a cushion to steady the camera but it's too squidgy, must make a new bean bag! Then I can save the cushion to lay on Wink Funnily enough when I went back out this afternoon this lizard was sat on my cushion not the log pile!

Definitely an improvement with the image manipulation, captures much more of a 3D effect I think, much improved! I'll need to read the technical stuff a couple of times, not sure I have an auto ISO option available, but will check the manual for the 350D Thumbs Up

Posted By: Tom Omlette
Date Posted: 08 Mar 2014 at 12:16am
i wouldn't say much improved. maybe a little. the intention was to illustrate that you will be able to recover any iq lost to noise when using higher iso. you can't really do the same for motion/shake if your shutter speed's too slow.


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 08 Mar 2014 at 8:37am
Originally posted by Tom Omlette Tom Omlette wrote:

i wouldn't say much improved. maybe a little. the intention was to illustrate that you will be able to recover any iq lost to noise when using higher iso. you can't really do the same for motion/shake if your shutter speed's too slow.


Yep, I meant the noise I could see was improved! It tends to me to 'flatten' an image. Probably not the right term! 

I use to have a bean bag which I made full of split peas which gave really good results as the camera could be very firmly planted in it. Stopped taking it around in the field as it was rather heavy. With the advantage of shooting lizards at home though, I can make a bigger one and not need to worry so much about weight. Smile

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 08 Mar 2014 at 9:22am
PS Tim, just been through the technical bit again (in all seriousness writing some notes!). Thanks that draws together things I've played about with, I'll certainly give full manual a try, been avoiding it really and staying in a comfort zone!

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 09 Mar 2014 at 11:24am
One from this morning, not quite the result I expected! Any thoughts on the blown highlights??

I can confirm Tim that the 350D has no auto ISO mode in the 'creative' settings, so I was shooting ISO 800, Av mode.

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 09 Mar 2014 at 1:37pm
Same lizard, I did try to get closer, so sorry for this long distance shot (in fact the lens wouldn't let me get closer it was physically too big and by this time resting on the same log as the lizard! Guess who's second compact flash card went FULL right after this shot! What a way to spend a Sunday though! Smile

Shot was ISO 800 1/2000  f/5.6 Some sharpening in Photoshop, noise reduced with 'median' as I don't have the later noise reduction option it seems in Photoshop 7.

Quite acceptable I think, still working on camera steadying though.

Plenty of nose rubbing and yawning from this individual this morning, so I'm expecting he's preparing to slough.

Posted By: Tom Omlette
Date Posted: 09 Mar 2014 at 1:43pm
looks like the iso might have been too high for the bright conditions. what was the aperture and shutter speed? in bright light you could be at f8-11 and over a 1000th of a second at under 800 iso i reckon.


Posted By: Tom Omlette
Date Posted: 09 Mar 2014 at 1:45pm
posted while you were posting your second pic gemma. that's much better exposure isn't it and nice and sharp. 


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 09 Mar 2014 at 1:59pm
The 'blown' shot settings  1/400 f/10 ISO 800

I shot it with Evaluative metering and wondered if that hadn't helped, the lizards head was sticking out catching the sun, but much of the picture background wasn't in full sun, and some areas really quite dark. So I've now switched to partial metering. It seemed logical as our subjects are always best at finding the sunny spots and with these close-ups I'm happy to sacrifice the background a bit.

Posted By: Tom Omlette
Date Posted: 09 Mar 2014 at 2:04pm
in contrasting conditions like that i use spot metering but the camera can still struggle to cope. i think you've probably identified the problem though.  


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 09 Mar 2014 at 2:37pm
Thanks for the help Tim, shame as I really liked the shot but hopefully I'm on the right track as to why.

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 09 Mar 2014 at 3:46pm
Couple of behavioural shots, a bit of jaw cleaning after a meal? I spotted some cob web around his mouth in the picture above, so perhaps an eight legged snack, or just a bit of slobber!

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This is what to me makes the hours and hours of waiting for these in-situ shots worth my time, not many animals will show behaviour like this if caught and posed!

These were again ISO 800 so I'm comfortable I can catch any noise in Photoshop, haven't tried to reduce it in these pics at all, so not too bad.

Posted By: will
Date Posted: 09 Mar 2014 at 4:44pm
those are great shots Gemma, really crisp and nice bit of behaviour too.

Posted By: Tom Omlette
Date Posted: 09 Mar 2014 at 6:27pm
that second shot is lovely - sharp well exposed and good dof :). noise is only really noticeable on the background.

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 09 Mar 2014 at 7:02pm
Cheers guys, got that last one down as my 'bench mark'. If I can keep it to that quality, going to be fun catching different behavior this year. Shot at 1/2000 f/6.3 ISO 800, going online shopping looking for a small tripod and remote switch, think I've earned at least a look at them today! 

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 10 Mar 2014 at 9:39am
Remote switch and mini tripod ordered. For years I thought because they were photography related they would cost a small fortune, Canon switch for my camera and mini tripod came to less than £30! Wish I had checked them out before.

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 10 Mar 2014 at 12:24pm
Some from this morning. These with my zoom lens in Tv mode, mostly hand held. Again looking at noise at ISO 800 in sunlight.

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Newly emerged male above, I wasn't doing  yesterday's subject much justice saying he was preparing to slough, as comparing with this guy, he's obviously post slough. Doh! So I'll give him a bit more 'exposure'. Talking of which, room for improvement I think with getting the exposure of the subject right. Ones below bit too much, not enough, mmmmmm just right!

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Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 10 Mar 2014 at 2:45pm
Back to the macro lens for this afternoon, was seeing how the angle of the afternoon sun affected things, had to remove noise from the backgrounds in Photoshop. DOF was limited as I was focusing on the shady side of the lizards face:

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Posted By: Tom Omlette
Date Posted: 10 Mar 2014 at 9:27pm
Clap! the last one especially. with tripod and remote you can probably go back to iso 100 and aperture priority.

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 11 Mar 2014 at 8:56am
Cheers Tim, looking forward to the new bits arriving Smile

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 11 Mar 2014 at 11:17am
Switch has arrived! How was I working without it! Even hand held there is much less camera movement when using the switch. Happy days Big smile

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2014 at 11:56am
A vertical jaw rub! Missed them yawning twice this morning, I WILL get one with it's mouth wide open!

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Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2014 at 3:51pm
Are my two favourite subjects going to pair up???

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2014 at 4:20pm
Going macro! 

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Any thoughts on macro lights? Seem very expensive but I'm still pushing for DOF and shutter speeds are slow with the available spring sunshine? I wondered though if they are the cause of white 'rings' in the eyes of reptiles in some pictures I've seen?

Posted By: will
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2014 at 6:04pm
I bought a cheap ring flash for the macro last year, and the results looked, well, cheap...  negligible benefit IMHO..

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2014 at 6:37pm
Cheers Will, suppose I could have used the built in flash at least in the last one to fill in the shadows. For some reason I've yet to understand, when I use flash in Av mode it locks the shutter speed to 1/200 which is kind of worse Confused Might be my naivety behind the lens, but I thought flash would be more light, faster shutter for a given aperture??

Posted By: Tom Omlette
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2014 at 8:06pm
flash is pretty much essential for bugs and really small stuff. partly because of the closeness to the subject which reduces the amount of light available but mostly because dof becomes so shallow that it is difficult to get useable results from anything under f11. 

the issue about max shutter speeds with flash is complicated and i'm not sure i really understand it but here goes:

every camera has a flash sync speed which is the max shutter speed when using flash. canon is 1/200th. this is to avoid black underexposed sections that you would otherwise get. the shutter is actually made up of two 'curtains' one opens from top to bottom to expose the sensor then a second closes from top to bottom. however, at faster shutter speeds it works differently and the second curtain starts to close before the first one has finished opening all the way. this means that they sort of form a slit traveling down the sensor letting light in as they go. faster shutter speed = smaller slit.  thats fine in ambient light which is constant but flash is a burst of light anything from 1000th to 20000th of a second. your canons sync speed is 200th that means the whole sensor can be exposed for a maximum of 200th of a second. after that the slit thing starts to kick in. then if you use flash with a higher shutter speed a proportion of light (more there faster the shutter) will be blocked by the downward travelling curtains and you will end up with sections at the top and/or bottom completely un or underexposed.

the only way around this is with an external flash which can emit a pulse of light rather than a burst. i have tried this however and images are very underexposed. ironically the technique is used more in bright light for fill in flash rather than when the flash has to provide most of the light required. 

hope this helps.

btw super sharp close up Clap


Posted By: will
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2014 at 8:32pm
er, yeah Gemma, what Tim saidLOL...

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2014 at 8:51pm
Thanks Tim, didn't have a clue about any of that, so thanks for a great explanation.  Thumbs Up

Posted By: Tom Omlette
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2014 at 9:16pm
if you're still unsure about anything prob best to google flash sync speed than get me to clarify lol!!!

people tend to prefer either twin macro flashes with diffusers or a normal external flash with home made diffusers that channel the light to the subject rather than ring lights which are thought to give harsh light and as you say can result in obvious refections in the eye. i like this guys stuff. he seems to use flash for everything although he does a lot of his work at night

you can clearly see the reflection of his flash but i think its ok


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2014 at 9:45pm
oooh! They are really good! I've just blown my pocket money on some extender rings, but I've been looking at the canon Twin Lite MT-24EX but its's way out of my budget new. I'll have to look at rings too, maybe there is a suitable one at a more affordable price.

Posted By: Tom Omlette
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2014 at 9:59pm
extension rings with a 60mm macro should get you very close Smile. look forward to seeing the results.


Posted By: Tom Omlette
Date Posted: 12 Mar 2014 at 10:06pm
btw i have had some very good results using on camera flash and one of these diffusers

i also like the look of these though,or.r_cp.r_qf.&bvm=bv.62788935,d.d2k,pv.xjs.s.en_US.UTNq5j5_43M.O&biw=2559&bih=1320&tch=1&ech=1&psi=99kgU8G-DYOO0AXO2YH4Cw.1394661897106.5&ei=FdogU4nBNaOt0QXB7IC4Cw&ved=0COMBEKYrMA0

or maybe use them both together


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 13 Mar 2014 at 8:22am
Thanks Tim, thinking behind the extension rings was too fold, close is never close enough but also for action shots I'm hoping I can get useable stuff from further away. Once I'm set-up in front of the log piles there are often several things going on, so switching between a nice close-up of one individual quickly to an action shot of another was part of the plan!

Thanks for the links Thumbs Up

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 13 Mar 2014 at 9:08am
Here's one from yesterday, tried to be a bit arty, which seemed to work as it's the first picture I've had put in someones favourites on Flickr! 

Posting though to show where I think the lizards hibernate. These deep fissures seem to go right to the center of the logs, and this is where i see the animals first emerging from. They hang about the entrances like this for a day or two, then start to go further afield. Often returning to the same log in the evenings.

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Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 17 Mar 2014 at 1:41pm
One from today, I've always been intrigued by this behaviour, of lifting feet whilst basking on warmer days. I've seen them lift both front feet, hind feet, combinations, and even attempts at all four at once. I've never understood why they do it, though assume it is to do with thermoregulation:

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First time I've tried out the tripod and very pleased with the result, shot with the 18-55mm at full zoom.

Also tried the extenders, quickly realised I had totally misunderstood how they might work having never used them before! I'll be trying those out on another day when I understand them better.

But it gives me a question. 

The 55 mm doesn't quite get me close enough with a tripod, the macro is very good when I've the time to set-up and get very very close, often waiting for hours on end to get the shot. 

What I really need is a lens that will get me better zoom than the 55 mm but I don't have to be all that close so I can catch some of the action that goes on. Any thoughts? I can come up with some numbers of just  how far away I'm talking about if needed. I'm keen on canon EF-S but will look into any suggestions. Smile

Posted By: Tom Omlette
Date Posted: 17 Mar 2014 at 8:05pm
great behaviour shot.

the macro @ 60mm will still get you closer than the 18-55mmm and should be sharper being a prime lens. 

i use nikon so don't know enough about canon to be of much help. if you think zoom is necessary though i do know thew tamron 70-300mm vc has an excellent reputation and is sharper at 300mm than the nikon equivalent that i own but hardly ever use. 

other than that most prime lenses are very sharp but expensive. my tamron 180mm macro gives me enough working distance for most subjects. there's also the excellent sigma 150mm macro. 

i tend to buy lenses second hand because they hold their value. i will always be able to sell them on for pretty much what i paid for them if i need to. i use that as rationalisation for buying them really because if you think about it i haven't really spent anything on them ErmmWackoWink

canon do a 70-200mm in their pro series which i imagine would be excellent quality but don't know. 

i think you are looking anywhere in the 100-300mm range though. 

will should have an idea how much working distance the 105 gives. 

there's really no substitute for getting as close as you can either by stealth or more telephoto.


Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 17 Mar 2014 at 8:33pm
Cheers Tim, I did notice today that I seemed 'closer' through the view finder with the 60 mm than the zoom lens, I get it now! Had never really noticed but with the tripod being a fixed point, it became clear to me that was the case!

The canon 70-200mm does look a bit tempting, pricey though. Been wondering about getting into photographing other wildlife, so could be one to add to my 'wish list'.

The EF-S 55-250mm seems quite affordable and has image stabilization, so could be the budget option. Decisions decisions, need to read up more on your other suggestions!

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 24 Mar 2014 at 2:24pm
Any thoughts on the EF-S 55-250mm Tim, I'm getting very tempted" rel="nofollow -

One from today with 60mm Macro:" rel="nofollow">" rel="nofollow - Male Common Lizard Shedding Skin by" rel="nofollow - GemmaJF , on Flickr

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 24 Mar 2014 at 7:55pm
It just struck me after Richard mentioned how well the browns in some of the lizards matched a rusting wheel rim, just how well this male merges in with an aged sawn willow log. Perhaps there really is a bit of selection going on in the wildlife garden! 

Posted By: Tom Omlette
Date Posted: 24 Mar 2014 at 8:34pm
hi gemma

i don't know enough about the lens to say really apart from it seems to get good reviews especially in terms of value for money. i've had a quick search around the canon vs tamron 70-300mm vc which gets excellent reviews and is considered a semi pro lens. however, mixed thoughts on this and quite a few people advising to go with the canon so i don't know. a second hand tamron would be over £200 so more expensive as well e.g.

i have a nikon 70-300mm zoom but barely ever use it because i think i get better results from a 180mm fixed prime even if i'm a bit further away, although i can usually get as close as i need to with a 180mm. 

buying lenses second hand works for me because they hold their value. if you buy the 55-250mm then decide you want to upgrade just sell it for what you paid for it and away you go. that makes it a bit of a no-brainer really i suppose cos you've really got nothing to lose.

another cracking shot btw. are you still at 800 iso? conditions look bright enough for you to risk coming down a bit i reckon. 



Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 24 Mar 2014 at 9:02pm
Cheers Tim, think I will go with the canon, from there I can figure which prime lens would suit.

Still using ISO 800, light was coming and going but I think if I get a clear day will come down to 400, shot was 1/500th F10 ISO 800.

Posted By: GemmaJF
Date Posted: 27 Mar 2014 at 4:09pm
Couple from a local survey today, first shots with the Canon EF-S 55-250mm, these are cropped shots, hand held with the image stabilizer engaged:

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Wouldn't have got anything usable without the new lens, these lizards were up to operating temperature and ready to be off any second.

Posted By: Tom Omlette
Date Posted: 28 Mar 2014 at 5:29pm
glad you're pleased with the lens gemma Thumbs UpSmile


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