RAUK - Archived Forum - Some neo shots

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Some neo shots:

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Alan Hyde
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Joined: 17 Apr 2003
No. of posts: 1416


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Posted: 23 Apr 2003

I took this picture with a +1 macro lens so I could get really close .

 

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Alan Hyde
Senior Member
Joined: 17 Apr 2003
No. of posts: 1416


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Posted: 23 Apr 2003

Another shot of the same neo

 

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Tony Phelps
Forum Specialist
Joined: 09 Mar 2003
No. of posts: 575


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Posted: 23 Apr 2003

Note the detail of the scalation on Alan's shots. This is how I have been identifying individual neos for the last twenty years or so, plus pattern.

It does use up a lot of film though, and this ID work is best suited to digital cameras, my next purchase I think. Smooth snakes are done the same way.

 

Tony


Caleb
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Joined: 17 Feb 2003
No. of posts: 448


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Posted: 23 Apr 2003

Alan-

could you tell us a bit more about how you take these photos, and what equipment you use?

I'm relatively inexperienced at photography- I've used a Pentax P30 for a few years, with a 28-80mm lens, and extension tubes for closeups. This is fine for animals that stay still, and for posed setups, but I find it hard to get close enough to skittish animals. I've recently got a Nikon Coolpix 950 digital camera, which is also excellent for closeups, but again needs to be too close for active animals.

Were these pictures (and the others you've posted) with animals that you'd caught and posed, or as you found them?


Alan Hyde
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Joined: 17 Apr 2003
No. of posts: 1416


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Posted: 23 Apr 2003

Hi Tony, Caleb, and thanks.

Tony-

That's realy Strange that you say about using Scales and patterns as a means of Identification. I was lying in bed last night discussing just that with my wife. I have started to carry around a small square of white cardboard for placing the adders head on when photographing . These close-up head shots will be named and stored on disc for quick reference.

 

Caleb-

I use the Olympus E20 and various lens's, mostly close up macro .

I am saving up for the Tele extension tube that is made for this camera , but unfortunately it's veeeeery expensive

Not all , but most of my herp pictures are posed unfortunately . I prefer to actually get down close and intimate with the subject rather than zoom in .

This may sound comical but, as my main interest lies in venomous snakes I actually made my own sort of shield to protect my hands during shooting.

I have a square of clear perspex (18in x 18in) . At the bottom of this I have cut a perfect fitting circle that clips over the lens. Using this I can actually get down in the heather up close to the adders, and all the time my hands are protected ,plus I can see what the snake is up to at all times. Sounds corny , but it works for me .

The main reason I came up with this idea was 1- so I can still use my favoured method , getting close. 2- A visit to St Lucia where I was hoping to see B .caribbeaus,(but didn't), and 3- a stab in the knuckle with one fang from a grumpy V.berus.

 

I hope this helps ,

Cheers Tony, Caleb

Alan


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Caleb
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Joined: 17 Feb 2003
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Posted: 23 Apr 2003

Alan-

thanks for the info. I have been concerned about being too close to an adder a couple of times while taking photos, but I rarely get that close! I hope your bite wasn't too serious?


Alan Hyde
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Joined: 17 Apr 2003
No. of posts: 1416


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Posted: 23 Apr 2003

Caleb,

You're welcome , and thanks again. No , luckily the bite wasn't serious at all. It was only one fang and he barely penetrated because he hit the bone of the knuckle.

The snake was very cold , and the strike sluggish . I only recieved a small purple dot on the knuckle. It was foolish of me to be so close and not pay attention . My fault entirely , and definitely not proud of it .

Cheers, and take care,

Alan


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Tony Phelps
Forum Specialist
Joined: 09 Mar 2003
No. of posts: 575


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Posted: 23 Apr 2003

Photo tips

About 70% of my shots are wild and free; first I like to record behaviour, and also because I like to establish snake/lizard in habitat.

My most useful lens (I use Nikon F5 & F4S) is a 200mm macro, used mainly hand held with film speed around 200. It is expensive, but it has paid for itself over the years. For things like adder combat the auto focus is amazingly fast and spot on although it is sometimes difficult to get both heads pin sharp. (i.e. if they are like this  x     x  and not xx) if you know what I mean.

For other photography - I do controlled portraits for big close ups, with either 60mm or 105 macro - with fill or macro flash.

You will find that adders and other reps are often predictable, use the same basking spot etc. If you keep low, belly-crawl even, you can get close.

Go early morning or late evening when basking is more prolonged.

The choice of film is personal for some, but Fuji velvia for portraits, and Provia 100F for other is great. You can uprate Provia + 2 stops without any increase in grain.

I never use print film - anyway you will want to show slides, won't you?

Reptile photography is still hit and miss, especially wild stuff, and to save on cost always just do 'process only' and just mount the goodies.

When it comes to those big close ups of adders, its not the problem of a bite that's my main issue. Once an adder has homed in on you the only shots available are  head on; side views are much better. I distract with my left hand and press the shutter with my right, if someone else does this for you then all the better. 

Remember also there are ethics involved; when a snake or lizard has had enough of being poked around and 'arranged' it is pretty obvious, so fair play, the animal's welfare is more important. (Also have you got the appropriate licence for the rare species?).

Tony

 


Alan Hyde
Senior Member
Joined: 17 Apr 2003
No. of posts: 1416


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Posted: 23 Apr 2003

Great tips Tony , Thanks.

 

By 'Appropriate licence for rare species'I'm assuming you mean the smooth snake and Sand lizard?  I never come across these two species where I look , only when visiting Studland , and have never photographed either.

I couldn't agree more on the ethics involved with regards to reptile welfare , and have upset many regulars on other forums with rants regarding Imorting , captivity, and handling of wild specimins. I'd be interested to know your thoughts on removing specimins from the wild and releasing in the same spot at a later date. My theory is that the snake would be so stressed by its captive ordeal that it would move on , thus this results in the same situation as a relocation. 

I also use the left hand method of distraction when taking photographs, because as you said the snake will automaticly take up the deffensive position. But I must confess I've never belly crawled up to a basking berus , and must give that a go , thanks.

One other point you mention is early evening searching. I've always had great success looking early morning , or on cloudy muggy days , or after rain , but I've never seen much in the evenings, .

Cheers Tony ,

Alan

 


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David Bird
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Joined: 17 Feb 2003
No. of posts: 515


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Posted: 24 Apr 2003
I have used a 135 mm or now use an Olympus 75-150 mm zoom usually with a No.1 or 2 extension tube so that one is not too close to the reptile to disturb it too much. I have found that by approaching calmly and quietly without too much direct eye to eye contact one can get shots where the animal is not staring at the lens. If the animal does look up one can stand, kneel or lay still for a few minutes often the animal will relax and look away in another direction. I never pose any animals for normal shots only for back patterns or head patterns for survey database. I do not like posed pictures which are usually the ones published and are often quite obvious with moss as a setting and fill in or worse still ring flash reflection from scales or eye. I personally would rather see a less sharp photograph or a shot taken from further away if it is an in situ picture showing some of the natural habitat, I also like to see photos of how one finds reptiles in the wild where they are often camouflaged or slightly hidden as this gives newcomers a better idea on what to look for when out in the field. Often when I go out with people they are surprised at how I see animals before they see me and they often say that they would never have seen them and often do pass by them until I point them out. I am sure they expect to see the animal standing out like they see in many books.
British Herpetological Society Librarian and member of B.H.S Conservation Committee. Self employed Herpetological Consultant and Field Worker.
Tony Phelps
Forum Specialist
Joined: 09 Mar 2003
No. of posts: 575


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Posted: 25 Apr 2003

I agree with Dave; pics taken in situ are better for slide shows as they show just how difficult reptiles are to see sometimes. even bright green lizards.

If you want to lessen the distraction of blurred almost in focus bits of grass/heather, then shoot with the lens wide open and this will soften the effect for a more pleasing result and if you are a reasonable distance away then depth of field is not critical. Use the same technique, i.e. shallow depth of field, on plants. Some of the best plant shots are often taken with a short tele lens 100/200 rather than a macro lens.

If you do want to get an 'open' shot of reptile then I repeat go early when not mosaic basking, i.e. fully exposed, and if it is cool adders will be 'flattened', always worth a shot.

Also on predictable basking spots, I often set up a remote camera on a beanbag or very low tripod with a wide angle lens @ F22 pre focused and just wait - you can even set up fill flash. This sets the animal up nicely in the habitat. 

 

Tony


- Some neo shots

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