Captured Moments by Tim

Garden Discovery

by on Feb.01, 2010, under Amphibians, Animals, Salamanders

A Pleasant Surprise

This weekend I finally got around to picking up the debris that had been strewn about my yard from the last big storm that blew through.  I was working on a pile of palm fronds that were stacked on the lawn when I spied something curious.  A tiny face was staring up at me.

The little creature couldn’t have been more than 2 inches long and maybe a quarter of an inch across.

Was it a earthworm?  No, it had eyes.  Perhaps it was lizard.  I don’t think so.  It seems a bit moist to be a lizard.  It sure looks like a salamander, but I know we don’t have salamanders in inland San Diego County.

While I was puzzling over this fellow’s identity, he just contentedly stared up at me, blinking occasionally.  What could it be?   I gently picked him up and placed him in a pot of chamomile so he wouldn’t wander too far off, and went inside to see if I could ID him.

After a few minutes on Google Images, low and behold, I had a Garden slender salamander (Batrachoseps major major) on my hands.  Apparently these salamanders are fairly common in these parts but I had never seen one around here.  I thought I might grab a few photos of him while I as at it.  He was a very cooperative model and immensely patient while I toiled away taking pictures of him.

A salamander, indeed!  What a pleasant discovery while working in the garden.

Shot Details

To capture these images I used a Canon EF 100mm f/2.8 Macro USM lens and an EX 580II flash.  The flash was fired remotely using a pair of Pocket Wizards with the power dialed back  just enough to balance it a bit with the ambient light.  I used a Honl speed snoot as a bounce card to try and soften the light and wrap it around the subject (literally and figuratively).


Canon EOS 40D + EF100mm f/2.8 Macro USM @ 100 mm — f/10, 1/125 sec, ISO 800


Canon EOS 40D + EF100mm f/2.8 Macro USM @ 100 mm — f/14, 1/60 sec, ISO 800


Canon EOS 40D + EF100mm f/2.8 Macro USM @ 100 mm — f/14, 1/60 sec, ISO 800


Canon EOS 40D + EF100mm f/2.8 Macro USM @ 100 mm — f/14, 1/60 sec, ISO 800


Canon EOS 40D + EF100mm f/2.8 Macro USM @ 100 mm — f/18, 1/60 sec, ISO 800


Canon EOS 40D + EF100mm f/2.8 Macro USM @ 100 mm — f/18, 1/100 sec, ISO 800


Canon EOS 40D + EF100mm f/2.8 Macro USM @ 100 mm — f/9, 1/80 sec, ISO 200


Canon EOS 40D + EF100mm f/2.8 Macro USM @ 100 mm — f/7.1, 1/100 sec, ISO 100

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