The Toad Blog

Sigma 180 Macro Lens Review 17 September 2017

Sigma 180 Macro Lens Review

One year testing

This week I bring to you a full two years of the Sigma 180mm Macro lens. Is it a solid lens and worth the price? Does it deliver as a medium telephoto? Can you use this lens as your go to portraiture lens. Over the course of two years now, I will give you my opinion and a few Macro shots.

Black & Yellow Garden Spider 6 September 2017

Black & Yellow Garden Spider

Argiope aurantia

Over the last few years I became interested in the Orb Spiders, in particular the Black and Yellow Garden Spider as the common name or the Argiope aurantia, scientific name. Ultimately my fascination for spiders and insects in general always cause me to stop and take a closer look when I run across them out in the wild. As a photographer I enjoy taking a few photos at any opportunity, here in this write up I share my observations and images of the Black and Yellow Garden Spider.

Macro Photography Best Lens 27 August 2017

Macro Photography Best Lens

My setup and gear

I spent a few hours outdoors enjoying my macro photography and I hope you enjoy and find inspiration in the images I captured. What do I use for my Macro setup and why?  read on...

Summer Flower 25 July 2017

Summer Flower

Mid Summer Dream

On June 20th we officially enter into summer known as the summer solstice and on that day summer arrives.  I took a stroll through open  wooded area looking for signs of summer, you know - Dragon flys, and beautiful cone flowers.  I was greeted with this wonderful specimen, using my long telephoto I took a moment and snapped a couple images.  The color and contrast speak for themselves. Summer is Here!  

July Cone Flower 20 July 2017

July Cone Flower

Digital Paint

I took the reference photo in early July in very bright sunlight at about 9 A.M, I thought I the image was a good photo to make a digital painting from.

Wood Duck Photography 6 June 2017

Wood Duck Photography

Great Find

I was not all that lucky in previous years of getting any real useable photos of Wood Ducks in the location I lived, due to the scarcity and short time frame they seem to stay in this area during the late spring season.  I find the Wood Duck a stunningly beautiful waterfowl. The males in particular with iridescent browns, blacks, white green, ornate patterns on nearly every feathe, this is one pretty bird.   Females very attractive but have a less colorful pattern but the same distinctive profile and delicate white pattern around the eye. I find Wood Ducks in the wooded marsh ares that have hardwood forest adjacent to the water.  With some research I discovered they nest in holes in trees or use man made nest boxes. Little did I know they are one of the few duck species with claws that can grip bark and perch on branches- see my photos of a group perching.

Cedar Waxwing 29 May 2017

Cedar Waxwing

Chasing Berries

Each year I am blessed by the migration of the Cedar Waxwing, Bombycilla cedrorum through my area of the country. Their visits are timed almost perfectly with the arrival of the fruiting trees and bushes.  These delightful birds will stay in the area for several months basically as long as the fruit holds out. See my gallery and read more on these birds.

Flower Photography 28 May 2017

Flower Photography

Beautiful Details

I have a couple photographic weakness, Birds and Flowers.  Whenever I am out doing some photography shooting regardless what my intentions are, if i run across a great looking flower I stop and take a photo or try to incorporate the flower into my scene. The great thing about flower photography is you really dont need any specialized equipment.  I have even taken flower photos with a fish eye lens. I you want to discover more about flower photography read on...

Carolina Wren 20 May 2017

Carolina Wren

Super Song Bird

When you spot the Wren it looks to be rather plain but is a Whitney Houston of birds song wise; mostly brown with some lighter brown and speckles on the wings. The Wren is commonly found over nearly the entire Western Hemisphere. Listen for its rush-and-jumble song in summer and you’ll find this species zipping through shrubs and low tree branches, snatching at insects. Wrens will will accept and use man made nest boxes.

Rainy Day Photography 13 May 2017

Rainy Day Photography

Shooting in the Rain

I admit I like being out during rainy days  Why?  It is refreshing and stimulating to walk a wooded trail hearing and feeling the rain,  and besides that, It offers many opportunities for photographers - if we come prepared.

Woodland Photography 7 May 2017

Woodland Photography

Forest for the Trees

I truly enjoy the outdoors especially during spring months, plants and animals begin to flourish and the forest comes alive with colors, sound with a calm atmosphere.

Eastern Box Turtle of Occuquan 1 May 2017

Eastern Box Turtle of Occuquan

Help Save My Life on the Wildlife Refuge

HELP SAVE MY LIFE!  If you are reading this and live in North Virginia - send the Occuqan Wildlife Refuge an email and ask they NOT ALLOW TRAFFIC on  park "grassy" trails during March - Jun due to turtles mating and laying eggs.

FACT: Occoquan issues "special permits" for autos that unknowinly CRUSH the turtles - Help stop the decline of this special creature!! email:

The photo you see is of a 16 year old female Easter Box Tortise who  lives in the Wildlife Refuge. Over the years I have the pleasure of seeing her out and about in the area she lives in.  Also in the area are Eagles, Osprey, Owls, but I respect this creature the most, due to the extreme habitat loss.... Read More..
Lower Cost Wildlife Kit 13 April 2017

Lower Cost Wildlife Kit

Get Out and Shoot

You probably noticed most of my blogs cover the upper end of the Photo Spectrum. I owe it to many my recommendation for getting a 90% solution for fantastic wildlife photography.

Great Blue Heron 10 April 2017

Great Blue Heron

Getting a good Photo

I am lucky to live in an area that the Great Blue Heron is found in most of the year. Here in North Va, you can expect to see the Great Blue Heron in numbers starting in Mid April through Late September. I really enjoy watching and photographing these birds. They are large and somewhat predictable and with some good planning you can acquire a few good photos on most occasions..

Thank You Nikon! 13 February 2017

Thank You Nikon!

100 Years

Thank you Nikon for being a wonderful company. In particular as my camera company of choice, I could not think of photography without Nikon as being part of it.

Coming of Spring 12 February 2017

Coming of Spring

Last Throes of Winter

This wonderful Male Cardinal sits on a perch as sleet comes raining down, and is undaunted by the ice crystals that are falling on his face and feathers. The Cardinal is a native species of North America and suited for the elements, he appears well protected from these elements.  

Potomac Sunrise 14 January 2017

Potomac Sunrise

Wide Shot Early Morning

This is my early sunrise overlooking the Potomac. This photo was a result of taking 4 images and merge both the exposure and panographic ends together to form a single photo.  

The Morning Commute 14 January 2017

The Morning Commute


I enjoy the early morning sun rise in hopes of capturing one good image. My modest setup was a Nikon D7200, great camera.

Photo Storage + 14 January 2017

Photo Storage +

Mass Storage Solution

So, you are an avid photographer with thousands of images in your collection.  Maybe you have been relying on an USB 3 external drive to as your file backup along with your lightroom database;  one copy on your work computer and a backup on the external - does this sound familiar?  While that approach is a viable one, you just might be at risk of serious data loss.  Here is my story on the near loss of many years of work, and why I decided to go pro, and invest in a serious NAS.

Birds 8 January 2017


Life is Good

Many times each year I take time to appreciate wild life and nature, These creatures who fly, walk, slither and live along side us humans. Several things stand our as I write this, one being how amazing are the birds survival capabilities out doors in the cold, wind, and snow, I took a few hours today to brave the near 0 temps to go out and take a few photos of birds being birds. 


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