Canon Pro 90 IS, handheld
7mm at f4
1/160 second at ISO 50
Eye of the beholder
northern black racer Coluber constrictor constrictor

As I've said elsewhere, I've gotten many of my wildlife photos because I've been clued in to the animal's location by the noises they make, but it takes paying close attention. Especially when it's a snake.

This northern black racer (Coluber constrictor constrictor) wasn't exactly crashing through the undergrowth, but it did rustle enough leaves to tell me it was around. They're incredibly fast, and it was a mad dash to capture this one, and I got a poor grip too far back from the head. As a result, it bit me vigorously several times before deciding this wasn't working. Racer bites are harmless, and can draw blood on a human, but that's about it

Then, it was a simple matter to get out the camera, switch it on, set the focal length, manual focus, and timer, and arrange to have the snake reasonably centered and in focus in the shot, all with one hand while the snake took the occasional shot at me from the other. I have a lot of frames that didn't work.

But what's funny about this one (and two others) is that it's a self-portrait of sorts. Look at the eye, and you'll see my pale blue shirt and my arm stretching down to its grip on the snake, and even the scales reflect this. Also visible is some spiderwebbing on his nose from where he exited his lair under the building I worked within.

northern black racer Coluber constrictor constrictorHere's another shot to give a better idea of size, and how poorly I had him – you can't quite see the blood on my thumb at this resolution ;-). Racers are quite aggressive when threatened. I returned him back where I caught him after I finished the shoot, which was less than ten minutes.