how to shoot it
James Lowen’s top tips for photographing snakes
Know your subject
More than any other creature I know, understanding adders’ habitat preferences and behaviour is key for successful photography. I spent days visiting suitably sheltered, sunny and south-facing locations to assess where males were likely to congregate in the spring Sun.
Use a telephoto lens
Shooting with a telephoto lens – rather than, say, the macro that I initially used to photograph adders – offers several advantages. Most importantly, it enables you to stay a respectful distance from these vulnerable creatures and thus avoid disturbing them.
Get down like a snake
Adders are ground-dwelling animals. To convey a snake’s life (and blur an often messy background) you must join them. Although uncomfortable, I lie prostrate to photograph adders, supporting my equipment with a beanbag and minimising neck ache with a right-angle viewfinder.