Rough scale close up

(10 Feb. 2017) Say ‘cheese’ doesn’t really do the job when taking photos of snakes. Apart from linguistic issues and limited brain capacity of the subject, snakes are also deaf. This rough scale snake was caught in garden mesh and had to be relocated. With enough knowledge of the local snakes it is rather easy to identify it as a rough scaled snake. But it is still useful to make sure it is not a (non-venomous) ‘keelback snake’, which differs from the rough scale by only one scale between the eye and the nostril. This photo certainly helped to figure that one out: it is the highly venomous, potentially deadly, rough scale indeed.

Technique
‘Bird’s view’ snake photos don’t do it for me, as they show fear and large distance. The trick is to show the identifying features, in this case the head scales and the skin colour pattern.
Knowing their expected behaviour – ‘reading the snake’s mind’ – also helps: I’ve been a snake catcher for years. By wearing out the snake first, by letting it move around a bit, and a bit more, it became less agile after a while. Because of all this it was safe to get pretty close (400 mm) to the subject at the right spot. Handheld, 1/500 with a 9.1 aperture to gain depth of field, 60 mm macro lens. Of course it requires several pictures to get ‘the tongue right’. Also notice the rather large fang, sticking out at the left hand side.
After the photo shoot he could enjoy his new domain, near a beautiful, remotely located, billabong. Roughies like it wet.