Canon 30D, handheld
Mamiya 80mm at f4
1/30 second at ISO 500

Hello gorgeous
common snapping turtle Chelydra serpentina

Exploring along the edge of the nearby pond one spring, I chanced across this common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina) sitting alongside the path not too far from the water. I suspect it was a female, and returning from having laid her eggs not too far away, since like many aquatic turtles they leave the water to bury the eggs in a safe spot. The newborns, upon hatching, will dig themselves out of the ground and make their own way to the water.

Snapping turtles, as almost everyone knows, can be actively defensive, but this is usually only when handled, and this one watched me distrustfully but near-motionless while I sprawled on the ground to get a nice close portrait. The light was pretty dim, due to being under the tree canopy and on the shadowy side at that, so I boosted ISO and went for a large aperture, bracing the camera on the ground to keep it steady under the slower shutter speed. Depth of field was quite short, so I concentrated on the eyes (this is almost always the best practice) and I like how it came out.