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How To Photograph Tadpoles

We explain how you can take great photographs of tadpoles in a pond which you can do in your own garden if you have your own pound or at your local nature reserve.

|  Animals / Wildlife
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Tadpoles tend to be more prevalent at this time of year and, as they take about 12 weeks or so to become froglets, it's a good time to take some photographs.


1. What Gear Do I Need? 

A macro lens of 90 to 100mm is perfect, providing you have access to get close to the surface of the water. If not you will need a longer lens with a close focus facility. A tripod is handy to keep the camera steady as you take the photo, but you'll need one that has legs that splay out so you can get the camera closer to the pond's surface when using a macro lens. It's also better if the centre column swivels over 90-degrees to act as a macro arm so you can position the camera over the water's edge and not at an angle. It may be easier to lay down on the floor (use a waterproof sheet to keep you dry) and use your arms as support. A polarising filter will reduce any surface reflections allowing you to see more clearly under the water.


2. Follow One Tadpole

Tadpoles tend to be quite active but move around in spurts. One minute they stop to presumably rest and then swim off to another spot. When they're active you need to hone in on one and follow it around, taking shots as it rests. Use a fast shutter speed to prevent tail blur, and increase the ISO if you need a smaller aperture.

Also, watch for tadpoles taking in air - they swim quickly to the surface and gulp air in. At this point, you can get a head-on shot with mouth wide open, but you often have to be quick as it's fast action.


3. Make It Easy For Yourself

Look around the edges of the pond for the easiest shots. It's here where the tadpoles will be feeding off vegetation around the side of the pond, especially when they have no legs as they are not yet meat-eaters.  In the shot above the tadpole was slowly pecking away at the edge of the pond causing debris to burst back. This microscopic activity comes to life when a macro lens is at its extended range.

If the sun is out, make sure you don't get the distracting rim where the water touches the side. This will appear as a white burnt out outline. Take the shots slightly away from the edge pointing inwards to conceal this outline. Shoot when the tadpoles are nearer to the surface to prevent the cloudy water making the image look dark.

4. Older Tadpoles

When the tadpoles have legs they become carnivorous (meat-eaters) so you can pop the odd worm, snail or piece of chicken in and watch them gather around in a feeding frenzy.

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K4Joy 6
17 Jun 2016 3:07AM
Love it we have tons in our pond will have to give it a go thanks for the tips
little0wl 9 461 United Kingdom
29 May 2020 7:20AM
This is great, thank you.

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