Photographing Snakes

Please try include your camera settings with your photos where possible.

Photographing Snakes

Postby corn snake » Wed Mar 21, 2012 7:51 pm

Hello everyone

I helped a Lady who found a Harold Snake yesterday.
Afterwards I brought him home, and I took some photos of him,
but they didn't come out nice.
This was my first time taking photos of a wild snake, I tried to take photos
of my corn snake in the past but they didn't look that nice ether.

Can the guys who have a bit more experience on this matter give me some tips,
and advice on taking photos of snakes.

Here is the photo I took:
Image

Regards
Leonard
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Re: Photographing Snakes

Postby Jacquesvw » Thu Mar 22, 2012 7:44 am

Turn on the macro function on your camera to take closeup photos.

It's usually a dial or button that look like the picture below, but can also be on an electronic menu on some camera's:

Image
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Re: Photographing Snakes

Postby corn snake » Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:00 am

I was using my canon 600D on av mode with the 18-55mm kit lens, I went as close to the snake as the lens would focus.
Will macro mode make a difference to how close the lens will focus?

The settings I used were as follows:
55mm
f/5.6
The shutter speed was at 1/20 or 1/30 of a second.
iso 800

I would have liked to use a faster shutter but we were in the house with bad lighting.
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Re: Photographing Snakes

Postby Jacquesvw » Thu Mar 22, 2012 8:26 am

corn snake wrote:I was using my canon 600D on av mode with the 18-55mm kit lens, I went as close to the snake as the lens would focus.
Will macro mode make a difference to how close the lens will focus?

The settings I used were as follows:
55mm
f/5.6
The shutter speed was at 1/20 or 1/30 of a second.
iso 800

I would have liked to use a faster shutter but we were in the house with bad lighting.


Oh yes, the macro function will make all the difference in the world. You have a good camera so there is probably going to be two macro functions. The one is for 20-30cm from the object and the second is for even closer.
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Re: Photographing Snakes

Postby Smeegle » Thu Mar 22, 2012 9:06 am

I don't think that is a bad photo at all. The head is nicely in focus and I love the shallow depth of field.

As you already mentioned, your main problem is lighting. A lot of people I know use light boxes to photograph snakes. This is how the pro's do it, notice the big mirrors etc. Good lighting is crucial. Credit to Neville Wolmarans for this pic.

Image

Also, pay attention to your white balance under different types of lighting sources.

Another very important but often ignored thing you should read up on is something called "rule of thirds" cropping.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rule_of_thirds

I think your camera setup is good and you appear to understand the exposure triangle well, nothing wrong there. Just experiment with lighting.

As for your pic, as I said i think it is good, but the only way you could probably save it is to convert the original high-res version to black and white.

Image

Kinda has an "arty" feel to it, would look good printed on canvas :D

No disrepect, but I don't think you have to shoot on macro. Just make sure your lens is on 55mm as you already did. I shot this pic with the exact same lens:

Image

This is a hatchling puffie, quite a small target.
One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.
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Re: Photographing Snakes

Postby corn snake » Thu Mar 22, 2012 10:16 am

Thanks Smeegle I'll remember to use the rule of thirds in the future and I didn’t even think about converting the image to black and white wow.
May I ask what program you used to convert the image to B&W.
Also it seems as if you added a little bit of grain to the B&W image, or was that from the original image?
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Re: Photographing Snakes

Postby Smeegle » Thu Mar 22, 2012 11:30 am

No problem!

Also, you probably know this already but you will need to set the camera to use a single focal point (red dot), so you can move that around and keep the snakes eye or whatever in focus whilst maintaining good composition.

I used Adobe Lightroom, but there are a lot of free editing programs out there. A friend said he tried one called Photoscape and was happy with it.

The image is grainy probably because I edited the low res version that you posted, and also because you shot it on quite a high ISO setting to compensate for the poor light. Try and keep the ISO below 400 by using better lighting.
One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.
- Dale Carnegie
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Re: Photographing Snakes

Postby Karin » Thu Mar 22, 2012 2:55 pm

I bought my 600D only yesterday, played with it a bit - there is a setting that allows you to take photos in black and white or sepia if I remember it is on the CA setting
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Re: Photographing Snakes

Postby it_bit_me » Thu Mar 22, 2012 3:53 pm

I only use programs with an function that auto fixes photos.
Microsoft Office picture manager 2001 or 2003 has the option. Infranview is my favorite at the moment it has an image sharpening option.

This photo has been auto colour corrected and sharpened .
Image
If I'm gonna be an old, lonely man, I'm gonna need a thing, you know, a hook, like that guy on the subway who eats his own face. So I figure I'll be Crazy Man with a Snake, y'know. Crazy Snake Man. And I'll get more snakes, call them my babies, kids won't walk past my place, they will run. "Run away from Crazy Snake Man, " they'll shout!”
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Re: Photographing Snakes

Postby Cronje Rademan » Thu Mar 22, 2012 5:32 pm

Hi Corn snake
Another thing that you have to remember with macro photography esp with slow shutter speeds is to keep the camera as still as possible. Even the press of the shutter release button, while the camera is on a tripod, can create fuzzy/blurred/out of focus images. That's where good lighting comes in. With proper light on your subject you'll get much clearer pics and your shutter speed will be much faster using the av function. I tend to take the subject outside in a nice natural location and use either early morning or late afternoon light (note mid afternoon light is too bright and you may overexpose the photo).
What I've done in the past with photographing snakes outside is to take a buddy along to help with handling and positioning the snake. Use a dark container to put the snake under and then get on your belly (It's very important to be on their level it makes for great pics). Get yourself comfy and your camera settings right (you can use anything from your camera bag to a nice firm pillow to prop up your camera, try not to shoot straight from your hand because camera shake is a big influence on clear photos) and when you're ready let your friend lift the container. The sudden light will "stun" the snake a little and it will take him a few minutes to get accustom to his surroundings. There will also be a lot of tongue flicking that you can try to catch. You can also make yourself a homemade reflector by covering a beer box bottom in tinfoil which a buddy can handle for you to reflect more light on your subject. As soon as the snake start moving cover him again for about 2-5 minutes to settle.
Use the "rule of thirds" method as smeegle suggested and always try to have the eye of the snake on one of these reference points. Always try and capture some light reflection in the snake's eye. This will make or break you photo. The experts are always looking for this. It make the photo come alive.
Most important is to plan your session properly. What's your subject and what equipment you'll need. As mentioned time of day is important, I prefer early mornings because than the snakes isn't so active and they will take a bit of time to warm up before becoming a hand full. Always be on the lookout for "interferences" in the frame. You might not notice them in the view finder at first but it is very frustrating to see later on your computer that your friend's dirty big toe crept up into the award winning shot. Also be on the lookout for unnatural marks made in the sand or surroundings. I always take a little hand broom with to sweep the area every now and than. The marks made by the snake itself is fine. It's not nice seeing a tekkie footprint next to the snake.
When it comes to camera settings I usually shoot with av mode. I try to use f6-8 the most. With this the subject is nice in focus and the background out of focus. My iso is never more than 400 and I try mostly to use 100-200. I also set the white balance to auto. Just remember when you use av mode the higher your f stop the slower your shutter speed will be and then you have to compensate by pushing your iso higher. With iso the higher the more grainy (noise) the photo will be.
When choosing background or scenery to take your photos don't choose backgrounds that's too busy it will also be distracting to the viewer unless you want to illustrate something like camouflage.

I hope this help you when taking pics. Here is some pics I took viewtopic.php?f=6&t=26704.
Remember practice makes perfect. We are lucky today with the digital age just to erase the pics we don't like.
Regards
Cronje
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Re: Photographing Snakes

Postby corn snake » Fri Mar 23, 2012 9:45 am

@smeegle:
It turns out after double checking the settings I used that the iso was actually set to 1600, but I think the high iso worked well with B&W. Also my dad happened to have bought us light room on Tuesday. :D

@Cronje Rademan

Thanks for the advice

I wanted to try photographing the little guy this morning but things didn’t work out. :(
Luckily I have a friend coming this afternoon who will help me to handle the snake while I take photos. :)

I will post the photos here when I’ve taken them.

Regards
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Re: Photographing Snakes

Postby Smeegle » Fri Mar 23, 2012 10:19 am

Great stuff! Can't wait to see some pics:)
One of the most tragic things I know about human nature is that all of us tend to put off living. We are all dreaming of some magical rose garden over the horizon instead of enjoying the roses that are blooming outside our windows today.
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Re: Photographing Snakes

Postby Cronje Rademan » Sat Mar 24, 2012 11:02 am

Hi Corn snake
Have you manage to come right with taking pics of your herald?? Waiting to see the pics!!!!
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Re: Photographing Snakes

Postby corn snake » Sat Mar 24, 2012 8:52 pm

Hi guys

Sorry for the long wait I went to a friend’s house today, and didn’t have time to upload the photos.
We used a half bent paper plate to cover the little guy. The problem was that my exposure was for the paper plat which left everything else under exposed. I also had some trouble with my focus. I don’t think we left the paper plate over him long enough; as a result he didn’t relax as he should have.

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Re: Photographing Snakes

Postby Durban Keeper » Sun Mar 25, 2012 8:38 pm

If that out of focus piece of grass was not in the shot it would have been a damn good photo! Good effort...
Life is but a dream for the dead.
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