Photographing Snakes - Tips on How to Master Snake Photography
written by: Misty Faucheux•edited by: Rhonda Callow•updated: 5/12/2010
Photographing snakes takes more than just practice. It takes preparation, patience and a lot of precaution. But, snake photography can be very rewarding for the right person.
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Precautions to Take When Photographing Snakes
Photographing snakes is not as easy as it sounds. These creatures are built to blend into their surroundings, sometimes making it hard to focus your camera. Plus, generally you’re not in a controlled environment. And, snakes are very fast and can be very dangerous. However, if you’re willing to be careful and have a lot of patience, you may be able to score some shots when photographing snakes.
First of all, know your snake species. If you know nothing about snakes, then this may not be the field for you. While many snakes are non-poisonous, many are and knowing the difference between the two could mean your life. If you understand snakes, you should still take precautions. If you find a snake that you are not familiar with, then you probably shouldn't go picking it up to get that perfect shot.
Snakes can strike to a length that is equal to one-third of its body. Always be in top physical condition, especially if you plan on handling the snake. Avoid alcoholic beverages, and do not go out when you are sick when photographing snakes.
Always wear heavy clothing and boots in case a snake does strike. And, carry a first-aid kit with anti-venom. Always let others know where you are heading, and carry your cell phone. Have programmed into your phone emergency contacts, and provide printed copies of emergency numbers to others in the group.
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Snake Photography Equipment
Next, you need to find an area where snakes are known to be. Water sources, sunny areas or thick brushes can be prime areas depending on the type of snake you intend on photographing. Also, try to find places where the least amount of people are as they can scare the snake or disrupt the session.
Carry a snake hook. You can use this to move objects around under which a snake may be hiding. And, you can also use the hook to reposition the snake into a better area or uncoil it. Just be very careful doing this. If you have never handled this type of equipment, bring along a snake handler. The easiest way to get yourself hurt is by not knowing what you are doing.
Have all your equipment prepared. Batteries refreshed, and keep your camera around your neck so that your hands are free to manipulate the environment. Be very still when photographing snakes as they scare easily.
You may not have time to set up a tripod or monopod, but they’re good to have on hand if you do find an opportunity.
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Snake Photography Techniques and Tips
Look for snakes that have recently shed their skin as they coats will be shiny and fresh looking. Try capturing snakes in the early morning, generally in spring or summer. Snakes will move slower when the temperatures are cooler and faster as they heat up under the sun.
Let the snake rest after a few shots. If necessary, move onto a different snake, and let the one photographed go. If you want to stick with the snake, then cover it with a dark cloth for a while. Use a spray bottle with mineral water to clean off any dirt or debris off the snake.
A good photography technique is to look for coiled snakes for they look better than snakes lying stretched out. You can try getting the snake to coil by putting a plastic bucket with a hook on the bottom for the snake hook over the snake. The snake will generally curl up into the bucket, and then you can remove it and get your shot. Just be very careful doing this.
Try to capture the snake in a close-up with its tongue out. If a snake is sunning itself, try taking the picture there as it will give the snake a clean background. Try different angles when photographing snakes. Try to get the snake in as clear as setting as possible. Take plenty of shots, and always carry backup memory cards in case the one that you have fills up.