Posts Tagged ‘snake eyes’

It has often been said that the eyes are the windows to the soul. I’m not sure what I can say about the soul of this Northern Watersnake (Nerodia sipedon), but I recently had a chance to take a long, close look into one of its eyes.

As I was walking in my local marshland park last week, one of my fellow photographers pointed out the snake to me in the low vegetation. Most of the time that I see this species, it is in the water, where it is almost impossible for me to get a close-up shot. The snake started to move several times as I got closer and closer to it, but then it would stop, thinking perhaps that it would be invisible if it remained motionless.

Most of the time, my view to the snake was obscured by the vegetation, so I waited and tried to anticipate where it would move next, hoping that it would move to a more open area. Finally, I was able to get a relatively clear shot of its eye in a head-and-shoulders portrait, though, of course, snakes don’t really have shoulders.

Northern Watersnake

© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved.

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Can snakes whistle? It sure looks like this Common Ribbonsnake (Thamnophis sauritus) is trying hard to whistle as he purses his lips and seems to be blowing air in this series of shots. Who knew that snakes had lips? This snake has lips that rival those of Mick Jagger and look a bit like they were enhanced with collagen.

When you shoot subjects, how close do you get to them? My general rule for wildlife subjects is to shoot them from a distance (so I can be sure of getting a shot) and then move slowly closer and closer. I was amazed at how close this snake let me approach—this first shot was not cropped very much at all.

I like the head-and-shoulders look of the first image (taking into account the fact that snakes don’t really have shoulders), which draws attention to the snake’s eye. At times, though, I prefer the shots that show more of the snake’s body and my favorite of this group is probably the third shot. I really like the curve of the snake’s body and the tilt of its head. It’s hard to see in this reduced-size image, but two little tips of the snake’s forked tongue are visible in its partially open mouth.


© Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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Snake eyes are often cold and menacing, but somehow this snake that I encountered yesterday seems to have warm brown eyes that look almost like he is smiling.

This snake, which I think is a Common Garter Snake (Thamnophis sirtalis), was curled up in some underbrush near the edge of the marsh. It was a real challenge getting a clear view of his head, the more so because I was using my 135-400mm lens that has a minimum focusing distance of almost seven feet (two meters).

For this shot, I used my tripod so that I could get an exposure of 1/30 second at f/9, with the lens zoomed out to about 350mm. I like the fact that I was able to capture some of the beautiful texture of the scales on his skin. You can easily see how I had to look for little sight windows through the brush, which is mostly blurred and hopefully is not too distracting. Finally, I am happy that I managed to capture some of the sinuous curves that help to guide the viewer’s eye to the snake’s head.


Michael Q. Powell. All rights reserved

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