Photography Times: Green Snake

March 14, 2010

Snakes are tricky creatures to photograph. The meticulous camouflage of the green snakes only makes it harder to find if what's raised between the small branches is the head of the snake, or just another docile extension of a leaf.

The trees and the branches were fairly thick making it all the more difficult to find where the snakes were curled away. And my idea for the moment was to photograph one with particular importance to the scales and the eyes. Green snakes have large eyes and blunt shaped heads.

After an hour of patient searching I could find a couple of them, not very far from where I stood, that could be my possible subjects for the day. One of them was looking downward as if it were about to swoop down to catch some prey, and the other seemed almost at the right spot except that it had its head turned away from me.

Making this photograph a bit more difficult to shoot was a disturbing ray of light reflecting from a glass enclosure adjacent to the green snakes. I sought additional help asking K to hold a bunch of books beside the enclosure blocking the path of the light from reaching the abode of the green snakes. With the books held high, I had to work on my zoom before the snake turned his head toward me, which - for all you know - may only be for a couple of seconds.

I was carrying a 70-300mm lens, so had ample focal length to cruise between the branches and leaves to get as close as possible to his head. After a few adjustments to the focal and the aperture to wade away the unwanted lights, I took position hoping the snake didn't hiss away into some other branch. I continued looking through the viewfinder wondering at the amazing stillness with which the snake stayed in his head-turned-away posture - an essential skill if he needs to camouflage and set himself up to catch an unsuspecting prey.

After about 20 minutes of holding my position, my shoulders starting drooping and I badly needed a sip of Red Bull. Even before I had a second thought on giving in to a Red Bull, the green snake slowly turned over. Looking through the viewfinder at close to the entire focal length of my lens, it seemed as if he was staring straight into my eyes. The large eyes and the scaly slimy skin - just what I was waiting for, and three quick shots later I lunged for my Red Bull.

Reptiles are probably the oldest of species to have ever existed on the earth. Reptiles are generally cold-blooded and their skin is usually covered in scales. Contrary to popular belief, many species of snakes are not poisonous, and do not have a history of being hostile to humans.

The Green Snake, for instance, tends to escape if threatened by human or other activity in its vicinity. A rather meek species of snake, they rely on camouflage to protect themselves and prey on insects like crickets, moths and butterflies.

Vidhya is an Independent Artist and a student of New York Institute of Photography. Twitter. Facebook. Facebook Photography Page. LinkedIn.
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