Photography

As my interest in amphibians and reptiles developed, I soon realised that I wanted more than just memories of the encounters I have had in the field and gradually became interested in photography. Back in 2002 I started out with an old Minolta SLR camera which I eventually broke while on a trip to Greece and therefore made the wise conversion to digital SLR in the form of the Canon 300d. This camera has served me well since around 2006 until today and in 2009 I finally started shooting with a 100mm macro lens. Additionally I use a 35-200mm mostly for scenic photographs and a 400mm lens that I use to photograph birds and the shier species of lizard (such as the larger species: Timon lepidus, Laudakia stellio, Lacerta sp). Last year I upgraded to the Canon 500d, but tend to still use both cameras as each has it’s own strong points. Although I don’t consider myself to be a real photographer, I have developed and improved my skills in this field but I rarely carry more than one camera and one lens around in the field. The reason for this is that by carrying a lot of equipment around I tend to ‘worry’ that when I find something (especially diving for a snake..) that I might damage my equipment in the process, since this has happened before.

I have never used a flashgun for my photography, and I never capture animals and photograph them in a studio environment. I much prefer to photograph a wild animal exactly where I found it, using natural light if this is possible. I am not too bothered by the shadow cast when using the camera’s in built flash when photographing animals (usually amphibians) at night as I don’t usually want to make it look as if it was daytime. It is always preferable to photograph an amphibian or reptile without too much disturbance, but in the case of many species such as fast moving snakes, it is necessary to capture and then calm the animal in order to photograph them. This typically does not take long and then the animal is soon able to continue on it’s way. My most effective way of calming a caught animal is to cover it with an object such as a pan lid, a cloth bag, or even with both palms. This is particularly effective with smaller snakes and some lizards. In fact, it is rarely necessary to handle any lizard, and so long as they are approached very slowly and quietly, are excellent animals for ‘in situ‘ photography. This can also be achieved with a number of amphibians, especially when they are occupied with breeding where they allow a closer approach than usual (For example Bufo sp, Pelophylax sp). Some snakes, such as some of the smaller vipers (Vipera berus, Vipera aspis) can also be photographed quite easily without even approaching them too closely. Unfortunately, most other snakes tend to be nervous and if spotted only remain still for a few seconds before taking flight.

Below are a few samples of my photography, of course you can see many more on my field reports and my Picasa web album. For any enquiries regarding the use of my photos, just send me an email: mjwilsonherp1@yahoo.co.uk

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3 comments on “Photography

  1. Thanks Steve. Sounds like a good idea, especially since there is not a lot of data available for Crete. However, I would not give exact localities for species such as Leopard snakes or Cat snakes, as the former in particular is a prize target for collectors (I know of several examples of this happening in Crete).
    All the best,
    Matt

    Like

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