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Reptiles and documentary photographs in local parks.

Garter snakes have emerged as spring takes hold at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.
Garter snakes have emerged as spring takes hold at Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.
Photo by Bill McCracken

Garter snakes have beautiful color and lines that make them elusive to find. This documentary shot tells the story of a true spring icon. They are the most visible early in the spring when the temperature is above sixty degrees lying in the sun These reptiles can be found in any of the area parks along trails. This one is at the Battelle Darby Creek Metro Park.
The coils of yellow and brown lines are in direct contrast to the leaves it is resting on. The leaf color is similar enough to the yellow coil lines that it produces the camouflage affect. The small green leaves pushing up through the tan leaf in front of the snake and the small flower bud behind it help complete the picture of early spring. Documentary detail shots like this must be in sharp focus.
There are two ways to photograph snakes safely. First photographing in natural surroundings produces the best looking shot. The number one rule in any animal photography is to have sharp eyes. This species is approachable and if it does not feel threatened will stay still. Our Columbus area parks do not have any poisonous snake species but that does not mean they will not bite. Using the telephoto lens will work in keeping your distance. A minumum focal length of 210mm should be used.
The second method is to use an aquarium and create a scene inside it. If you do not know how to handle snakes this method is not advisable. Get someone to help you that can handle them or has access to specimens.
The exposure for this shot was shutter speed .4 sec, aperture f13, exposure program manual, and the white balance is auto mode. The lens was a 70mm-300mm lens set at 200mm with no flash.