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Thread: 150mm macro lens + patience = extreme closeup snake photo

  1. #1
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    150mm macro lens + patience = extreme closeup snake photo

    After getting the 5am marsh photo last weekend, I stuck around for some macro shooting. I always wanted to get a good photo of a garter snake, but the time, place, equipment, and luck never aligned for me....until now...

    A snake was on the boardwalk as I approached, but before I could get in position it slithered away. I continued down the path, ate a snack, then came back to the spot. Two snakes were in position about 20 feet away, spaced about 8 feet apart. Somewhat reluctantly I decided to try the "inching forward" approach. From 20 feet away, that is quite a challenge. I got on my stomach on the boardwalk and began to creep forward very slowly. About halfway to the snake, a nasty looking fly landed on my arm and appeared to be preparing to bite me. Instinctively (and unfortunately) I tried to swat it away, and the snake bolted. The other snake remained a distance away, and it was larger. I continued my approach. About 10 feet away, a man came down the boardwalk from the other side, and the snake made its escape.

    I picked myself up, dusted off, and walked past the spot where the larger snake was. I wasn't about to give up. I estimated where a good position would be to wait for a snake to return based on their previous location. I got on my stomach, aiming at the spot, and remained motionless. After about 10 minutes of not moving (when my neck was getting tired), I heard a gentle rustling sound. After a bit I assumed it was just a breeze blowing the grass. The sound got louder, and I very slowly turned my head to the side. The snake was 6 inches to the right of my arm. I waited. The snake moved forward slowly, next to my head, then to my front, about 18 inches away from me. I snapped a few frames. No response from the snake. I watched and periodically shot more photos. I then had to shift my body position and arms, and went slightly too fast. The snake whipped its head in my direction very rapidly and was very alarmed! Then it turned back, flicked its tongue, moved across the path slowly... and I had to move again. This time it fled the scene, but I had some shots...

    Processing was my standard adjustments, plus minor background cleanup and distraction clone outs. I considered cloning out the stringy thing on the eye, but decided that would be going "too far" for my personal comfort zone of modification, and felt it was natural, so I'd leave it. The upper lip and tongue appear to have some blown highlights because the sun was direct and the scales are shiny, but I don't think it's too bad.

    View full size. Hope you enjoy! C&C is appreciated, of course including suggestions for possible improvements. Thank you!

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    150mm macro lens + patience = extreme closeup snake photo


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    150mm macro lens + patience = extreme closeup snake photo

  2. #2

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    Re: 150mm macro lens + patience = extreme closeup snake photo

    Very sharp, of course I like the first one the best. Lots of detail. I see it's a sigma lens, you must like it. Sure seems to do well. Colors are great too. I guess I have nothing to say besides great.

  3. #3
    Stagecoach's Avatar
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    Re: 150mm macro lens + patience = extreme closeup snake photo

    Matt,

    That first shot certainly made the wait worthwhile, great !

    And thanks for the explanation behind these shots, there are many that do not realise the patience required to get the capture in the wild.

  4. #4
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    Re: 150mm macro lens + patience = extreme closeup snake photo

    What a great shot the first one is - (I do not like snakes)
    I don't know how you could do that, get so close I mean.

    I know I just could not, it is not the patience question,
    It is the SNAKE.

    Anyway I love the sharpness and the colours, and just poking through the grass, a good frame.

  5. #5
    Clactonian's Avatar
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    Re: 150mm macro lens + patience = extreme closeup snake photo

    Any chance you could post a similar shot of a 'rattler'?
    I admire your patience, flexibility and skill.

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    Re: 150mm macro lens + patience = extreme closeup snake photo

    Snakes and I have an understanding - I keep my distance and they do the same. Consequently I can't help admiring your approach to these images and it was certainly worth it. All three are informative but the first stands in its own right. Good photography.

  7. #7
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    Re: 150mm macro lens + patience = extreme closeup snake photo

    Matt, I like snakes and all things creepy and crawly, they fascinate me.
    That first photo is just brilliant and well done for your perseverance, it payed off big time.

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    Moderator Dave Humphries's Avatar
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    Re: 150mm macro lens + patience = extreme closeup snake photo

    Excellent persistence and nature skills Matt, with darn good results, probably be a while before you better it

    The EXIF on the first shot is: Canon 7D at 150mm; 1/1600s, f/5.6 at iso 640.

    Well done,

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    Re: 150mm macro lens + patience = extreme closeup snake photo

    Matt, I enjoyed looking at all three of your images. The little bit of white-out on your first image is meaningless.

    karm

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    Digital's Avatar
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    Re: 150mm macro lens + patience = extreme closeup snake photo

    Very good captures.


    Bruce

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    Re: 150mm macro lens + patience = extreme closeup snake photo

    Thank you very much, everyone, for your comments and feedback! Nature/wildlife photography can be very frustrating (and often is), and sometimes I feel like I'll never get a shot, but I have obviously found that perseverance does pay off big. It has happened time and time again, when I think it's over and I'll never get anything, I "dig deep" and push forward, and then I usually get something better than I originally hoped. I hope this is somewhat reassuring and motivational for other aspiring photographers.

    It was easy for me to be close to the snake because I have zero fear of snakes. On the other hand, if you put a spider on me, I'll scream like a little girl

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    Re: 150mm macro lens + patience = extreme closeup snake photo

    Quote Originally Posted by flyingSquirrel View Post
    The snake whipped its head in my direction very rapidly and was very alarmed!
    I'd love to see his "expression" at that moment, but I'd be willing to guess you were a bit startled too and in no position to take another shot.

    Love the shots, especially the first one. Excellent effort and outcome.

  13. #13
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: 150mm macro lens + patience = extreme closeup snake photo

    Quote Originally Posted by Jeff S View Post
    I'd love to see his "expression" at that moment
    I really want to thank you for mentioning that, and here's why:

    Being an amateur at photography, particularly wildlife, I am still learning a lot and making noob mistakes. On that note, it might be difficult to believe this, but until you actually mentioned the idea of a shot of the snake in its alarmed posture, it never occurred to me that I'd missed a shot in my time with the snake that day. Literally, that moment and event were blocked out subconsciously.

    You are correct, it was somewhat of a shock to me when it occurred, because the movement was so sharp and rapid (I was not afraid, just sort of "distracted" by it and thought it was awesome). And thinking back, I also realize that shortly after the snake whipped its head over, I was focusing on the expansion and contraction of the body as it was breathing rapidly, and was thinking at any moment the snake was probably going to jet.

    It's rather enlightening for me to realize this now, because it will help me a lot in the future. I need to be in the game 100% of the time, no matter what happens. So as I gain more experience, I will begin to take things in stride and utilize those opportunities to get really great shots, instead of just really great memories. I can actually visualize exactly what the shot would have looked like...darn

    So, thanks for your feedback, and for bringing this to my attention!

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    Re: 150mm macro lens + patience = extreme closeup snake photo

    This is pretty awesome, Matt. Persistence definitely paid off. One thing about nature photography is that the type of experience that you described here is cool even if you don't come away with a photo to show for it. To come away with this quality imagery is over the top. Added to the landscape of the marsh I'd say you had one heck of a morning. Nicely done.

  15. #15
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: 150mm macro lens + patience = extreme closeup snake photo

    Thanks a lot, Dan, I appreciate the comments! I totally agree with your sentiments as well and have had awesome close encounters which did not yield any photos but are great nonetheless. One such experience was when I was wearing camo and a bird was taking a bath in a puddle about three feet away from me

  16. #16
    Shadowman's Avatar
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    Re: 150mm macro lens + patience = extreme closeup snake photo

    Very nice image. You've got some courage, seeing one snake is within the odds, seeing two would put my Alfred Hitchcock" radar on alert.

  17. #17
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    Re: 150mm macro lens + patience = extreme closeup snake photo

    Stunningly gorgeous image, Matt! Beautiful clarity and love the perspective. The stringy thing on the eye shows the snakes character...

    You've inspired me to try and find a garter snake... I'm very tempted to post a spider on your thread, just to see what happens

    Thank you for sharing the story behind your photo. PS I'm still lying down on the ground every chance I get.

  18. #18
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    Re: 150mm macro lens + patience = extreme closeup snake photo

    @ flyingSquirrel


    Crocodile hunter Steve Irwin, had a habit of getting near to the ground and the camera man was taping at a low position also.

    Once he was doing rattlers and he was sitting low to the ground because he spotter 1 snake, in the next shot we saw he was nearly sitting om a bunch of rattlers. Now these people where never alone, there was always a bunch of them (including SPOTTERS) and even then, nobody saw the snakes until he was sitting on them.

    Never underestimate wildlife, they pop up at the most unexpected places on the most unexpected moments and if you see/saw one probably there are more. And even the friendliest animal can be dangerous in a stress situation.

  19. #19
    FlyingSquirrel's Avatar
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    Re: 150mm macro lens + patience = extreme closeup snake photo

    Thanks again for the comments folks.

    Christina, good job, I am sure you are making huge improvements in everything you are doing. I hope you find a nice garter snake!

    Splashy, thank you for your concern. I definitely give animals and nature their due respect.

  20. #20
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    Re: 150mm macro lens + patience = extreme closeup snake photo

    Thanks for sharing the background, Matt. I smiled all the way through your explanation. Most people have no idea what we go through for a good shot. I probably have no idea yet what a pro goes through, but I'm learning!

    These are great, especially the first one. So sharp and, of course, with snakes it's always great to have the tongue flicking!

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