Two Red-spotted Newts, Watoga Lake, Allegheny Mountains, West Virginia ---- 

If you saw my photo from Watoga Lake in yesterday’s post you can imagine that Joan and I had a really good time there. Our excitement grew when we discovered a whole bunch of Red-spotted Newts in the crystal clear water at a shallow part of the lake. So, what is a newt? I found a simple answer on a website of the University of Georgia. All newts are salamanders, but not all salamanders are newts. With other words, they are a specific type of salamanders. The Red-spotted Newt is a subspecies of the Eastern Newt. This newt produces tetrodotoxin which makes the species unpalatable to predatory fish and crayfish. Key to survive! There is a lot more to tell about the biology of this very interesting critter. I trust you know where to find more detailed information in the world wide web.

Since this was not an “everyday” shooting situation I like to share my approach for this photo with you. We had an overcast day and it was already late afternoon, hence the amount of light was limited. Even if the water was crystal clear, we had to deal with some reflections of the sky on the water surface, means a polarizing filter was mandatory. The B+W F-PRO Kaesemann High Transmission Circular Polarizer MRC filter did an excellent job to keep the glare on the water out of the frame. The downside is that it swallows about 1-1.5 f-stops. The photo was made handheld with the Sigma 150/f2.8 at 1/40s, f/4.5, but to get into this speed range I had to pump up the ISO to 400. I tried to keep the focus point on the eye of the adult newt on top, but obtaining focus on a small spot under water is quite a challenge. The newts moved around but often stopped for short periods of time.

There is lots of wildlife in West Virginia. It is not always easy to spot because most of the state is forested land. Our biggest hopes to see a Black Bear again were not fulfilled, but the excitement while watching the Red-spotted Newts left a lasting impression on us.