how to shoot it

James Lowen’s top tips for pho­tograph­ing snakes

World of Animals - - Behind The Lens -

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.

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