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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Pseudo-nature Photographers

Content updated on 19th August 2013, to include Alex Wild's article

CONTENT DISCLAIMER: added 22nd August 2013
This article had gather a series of trending photographs, coincidentally these photographers are from Indonesia.

We should not be stereotype, this is pointing towards a certain group of photographers- Pseudo-Nature; regardless of race, nation and border.

Please take note that i do not own the idea, write up and analysis of this article original content from here, written in Chinese ( or here magazine here. I merely translated it. 
I tried to contact the rightful owner of the content through weibo but still no reply from their side. 


There are series of trending photos, and they actually seem cute and amazing.

Indonesian Tree Frog holding an umbrella, a rare occasion with great impact. 

When people are hiding indoors avoiding the summer heat, this resourceful frog holding an umbrella under the rain. This tree frog is photographed sheltering under a leaf in the rain for 30 minutes. The photographer is Penkdik Palme, 27. He said this riveting image was captured at his neighbor's garden.

Ohh wait! Isn't it holding a leaf for 30 minutes? Why is the leaf changed in the last photo? A frog's skin, in its natural state, need to be moisten. Raindrops to them are an enjoyment, why would they need an umbrella? And it seems to be an Araceae planted on an aloe vera. The rain is too uniform and could possibly reproduced from a watering can. Look at the frog, it doesn't really look in good condition. The red bruises on its legs show it could've been injured; a defenseless frog that is been posed by others. This is undoubtedly a set of staged and posed pictures.

Moreover, the photographer is from Indonesia, I am even surer that these photos are posed. There have been a lot of posed animal photos that crop out on the internet, and most of them are the works of Indonesian photographers. Their traits, they claimed their photos are captured naturally but that's a far-fetched reality. A nature enthusiast can easily tell that these animals are staged and posed, some animals are suspected to be abused. When I look at these photos, i can only say I am really amused.

Let's take a look at a couple more photos.

A crazy frog giving the fingers.

According to The Sun's March 12 article, Shikhei Goh from Batam, Indonesia recently captured a rare photo of a frog giving the fingers. He said he found the frog was beautiful. So he spent 3 hours following the frog. Fed up, the frog turned around and gave the fingers to the photographer.

Analysis: Did he just bump into a leprechaun of some sorts? It is a miracle he didn't pee his pants. The frog is actually a red-eyed tree frog (Agalychnis callidryas), it inhabit in the rain forests of Central and South America. They're not found in Indonesia rain forest, but they can be bought from pet store. Posed photographers like using pets as their subjects; you'll know when you look closer. A tree frog can't give the middle finger; its muscles don't allow it physically. I suspect Shikhei used a thread to force the frog to pose in these photo and removed the thread with Photoshop, because these animals seem to be arranged on a straight line when they're upright, as such:

There are a lot of similar photos, like:

Look, Bruce Lee kung fu frog!

Shikhei from Batam (AGAIN!), Indonesia said: "I like insects and animal, and i find it interesting to observe them. When this frog shifts its center of gravity to its left, it lifts its right leg up. It's swift as lightning and was gone in a blink of eye, but thank God, I managed to capture it.

Analysis: Nice try, it wasn't anything close to swift movements.

The cool dancing lizards.

These are some sick moves, these lizards sure know how to party! The owner of these dancing lizards, Shikhei Goh puts them on a reflective surface and observes them as they enter a trance-like state. They would use their limbs to stomp on the ground and shake their bodies. One of the photos show a gecko uromastyx doing the legendary pose by Travolta with one arm suspended mid air.

Indonesia-based Shikhei said: "Capturing them is difficult because they won't stop moving. But these fellas' movements are like dance moves. One of them look like it is doing a kick in Kung Fu."

Analysis: This is leopard gecko uromastyx (corrected by josefek) naturally found in Central Asia North America, Middle East and Iran. Anyone who's had them as pets know they won't be able to pose like this even if they took ecstasy. All these are with the help of a simple thread.

POP QUIZ! How are these photos below captures? Who is the photographer?

Oh, by the way, a red-eyed tree frog supposed to look like this.

Photo from Jan Sevcik. (

So do you still think these "amazing" photos funny?

These photographers are quite fond of snails as well, their favorite: East African land snail (Achatina fulica). They're native to African and have been introduced to a lot of countries including Indonesia. They can be found at pet store, dining table and around the houses.

Tiny snail climbs aboard mother's back crossing a puddle.

According to Daily Mail's June 6 article, Uda Dennie, 33, captured a snail carrying a baby Mollusc to cross a puddle. The tiny snail occasionally takes a peek at its reflection.

In fact, this series of photos by Dennie was not an easy task. He added, "In face it's quite a challenge, as I had to wait for a unique moment. The most important thing is patience, sometimes it takes hours to capture the moment. I was really surprised when I spotted the baby being carried by his mum on her shell- I've never seen this kind of behaviour."

Analysis: First thing first, they are not related. The larger one is an East Indian land snail and the smaller one, after examination from conchologist (Gondwana) is an Ariophantidae, a family of air breathing land snail. With this depth, it'll drown under prolonged times. Snail won't actively cross a river; their tentacles would retract when come in contact with water. So they will seek an alternative route. The river in the photo is just a thin film of water, because of angle, the water surface becomes reflective so it's hard to judge the depth. Don't believe me? Look at this:

Indonesian photographer captures exquisite insect shots.

According to Daily Mail's October 9 article, amateur photographer Nunu Rizani from Indonesia captured a series of crystal clear shots of insects taken after the morning dew had settled in his garden. Insects are on his marble table are playing with water or dangles on the tip of a plant stem and appears to gaze at its reflection. There is also a spider that realized the water wasn't deep, it started to revolve around the marble quite happily.

Analysis: See! He admitted the water is shallow and it's also a marble. Judging from previous pattern, he could easily say it is morning dew, but where did the spider get happier? The spider can be on its net quite happily, you put it on a puddle of water can scare it. And "revolve around the marble quite happily?" Really, that's called drowning! A normal spider will tip top when it walks, and this one is half-sunken. Admit it, you just beat it up, didn't you?!

Putting two animals together is very common as well. They'll make up a very interesting story; a surprised photographer is key to a good one.

Snail crawls over a frog.

Indonesian photographer Lacy Sebastian recently captured an interesting image of a snail crawling past a frog. He said it took the snail 8 minutes to finish the journey.

Analysis: 8 minutes?! Snails are slow, but definitely not that slow! Judging from the photo, the snail was moving at full speed at it could easily crawl past the frog in 15 seconds, maybe even 10 seconds. Oh Sebastian, can you guess why isn't the frog moving? Cause it is tired and been treated like a puppet. You're putting all sorts of things on its head, how can it not feel your hostility?

Moving on befuddled, I opened a new tab and saw a reversal: the frog is taking a lift on a snail.

Snail picking up a lazy passenger.

The snail was slithering on the rock when the frog saw the snail.

They both stare at each other for a while, and the lazy frog hopped on the shell of the frog.

Nordin said: "I laughed when I first saw it and then quickly grabbed my camera to picture it."

According to article by Daily Mail on 15 January 2013, Indonesian photographer Nordin Seruyan captured the cartoonish scene outside his home near a pond. He spotted the frog leap on to the shell of a snail and hitched a ride.

Analysis: I said: "I laughed when I first saw it and quickly pointed at Nordin and yell, you're crazy!"

Okay okay I'd calmed myself, let's move on. Wait what? New discovery? Lizard? Let's find out!

Indonesian photographer captures lizard's lightning fast feed!

According to an article by Daily Mail on 25 October, Shikhei Goh, 39, a photographer from Indonesia has recently captured an amazing sequence of pictures that shows a lizard feeding on. He said: "I was walking through this grass field. All of sudden, I stopped in my tracks because I saw this beautifully colored chameleon clinging to a long shoot of grass. The chameleon saw this cricket landed on a grass nearby and all of sudden it shot its tongue out caught its prey."

Analysis: Taking a walk and spotting a chameleon? Ho ho ho! After examination from Ricky SD and Saffron Von, this is a panther chameleon (Furcifer pardalis), native to Madagascar. This cricket can be bought at a pet store as usual live bait.

Shikhei said he had to wait 40 minutes after spotting the lizard.

Analysis: Serves you right!

This Shikhei Goh is rather interesting. After some researches, he's apparently a winner of some world-class photo competition Nut Geo in the nature category. The winning shot:

Shikhei said, " I was taking my macro-shots as usual that time. I had other subjects in my mind and didn't notice this dragonfly. When I'm ready to snap a shot of it, the storm is coming. I was hesitating whether I should continue shooting, but the light was unbelievable. So i decided to keep shooting and the result was amazing.

Editors’ Note, January 12, 2012: This caption has been edited to accurately reflect how Goh took the picture. The original caption said that Goh had taken the picture in a sudden rainstorm, which he has done in previous occasions—but not for the winning photograph.

Analysis: Storm, sunlight and strong wind, and a dragonfly that refused to give up: 4 unrelated elements coming together are pretty rare. But Shikhei's album has a couple more.

This is a miracle in meteorology; a palm size storm cloud raining at 5-25 degree on the dragonfly's face. And another storm raining heavily while the dragonfly is chilling under it. All these are captured by Shikhei?! I just have to learn from him.

Shikhei is not only a photographic maestro. He is also a Qigong master who can manipulate the weather. He says rain, rain is what you get! Really!

Note: A raised tail is a leopard gecko's defense mechanism; it means it is in a state of shock.

I'm getting a little fuzzy; I could only subconsciously look for other Indonesian maestro's works:

The ultimate of macro: little world, big story.

Indonesian photographer Fahmi Bhs's works are known for the story and he's skilled at creating dramatic tension, which is visually arresting. After the visual impact, it brings an intellectual experience, which will then elevate into an emotional experience.

What's up for the praying mantis flipping the toad over?

Battle between the praying mantis and atlas moth larvae.

Photographer captured a fire ant standing on one leg in an Indonesia village.

Robertus Agung Sudiatmoko, an Indonesian photographer was doing macro at Sebilong Village, he captured an army of ants' bizarre behavior. The most shocking was when one of them stood on one leg, "That ant suddenly stood on one leg and it looked like it is breakdancing. This is the first time I've captured something like that, I think it'll be hard to top that."

++ Content Update: to include Alex Wild's article ++ 

A Fake Makes it to the Smithsonian's Photo Contest Finalists

Alex Wild was surprised, I was astounded, my friends are flabbergasted! Biologists, Entomologists can bluntly tell without further investigation that this is faked, posed, staged, ants don't behave this way. These images were captured by Eko Adiyanto, West Java, an interview on Daily Mail 6 May 12, Adiyanto had described how incredible is the strength of ants putting onto a parade of defying gravity, balancing seeds above their heads.

Analysis from Alex Wild: Oecophylla smaragdina, the Asian weaver ant, is not shy about attacking intruders to its treetop territories. The scene can be set by taunting guard ants, who stand to attention and look around for something else to bite. If you hand an ant something into which she can sink her toothy jaws, she will grab and hold; this species is unusually tenacious and the guards will cling to offending items for some time. The strategy works well to deter attack by other ants, for example.

Weaver ants are strong- that part isn't faked. The ants build nests by pulling living tree leaves together and binding them with larval silk. The strength and grip involved in bending leaves and stems is unusual even among ants.

The patient observer can cajole the anry-but-not-terribly-bright insects into a pattern like that seen in Mr. Adiyanto's photo. It's clever. And I'd be fine with the image if photographer weren't trying to pass off a manufactured pose as natural ant behavior.

Mr. Adiyanto's circus ants might have a place in Smithsonian's "Altered Images" category. But they certainly don't belong among the "Natural World" offerings.

Between me and the photographers, one of us must be nuts.


I believe these are just a minority amongst the Indonesian photographers but the damage done is hard to fathom. In the context of not harming the model, posing fun is all good. But fabricating stories to mislead the public to believe the unnatural behaviors is plain wrong. Winning awards and gaining profits with deceit and animal abuse is unfair for the real nature photographers. There’re also(posed) photographers like these in China; in order to capture the moment of bird feeding a chick, they would take the chick out of the nest and stick it onto twig. To capture the flight of the migrating birds, they would scare and prompt the tired birds to fly. Nature photographer should capture the true essence of wildlife, not forcing the poor animals to hold an umbrella, dance or do kungfu. The nature is beautiful and interesting as it is. We believe in the true beauty of nature, not fabricated, posed photo at the expense of animal rights. My best regards to the photographers above.


I know you may find these images funny, interesting and beautiful, but these are staged, experts explained that these creatures do not behave like this in nature. The ONLY thing about nature photography is to show the beauty of life surrounding us, its complexity and divergence. It's important to remember that you can really hurt an animal if you pull it away from its habitat. Life of the undergrowth are very much depend upon the plants you find them on, so even when you replace them for a shot, put them right back on the same kind of plant when finished. The same goes for amphibians, and practically any other kind of animal.

Animals can't speak for themselves but that doesn't mean they don't have feelings.


Article also discussed on:

  1. PetaPixel
  2. Gizmodo