I have been away for the last couple of weeks up in Ontario’s Parry Sound region where I have been photographing a variety of subjects that range from landscapes to environmental issues, avian to amphibian, and an endangered Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake. I have tried on several occasions to locate and photograph these remarkable snakes, Ontario’s only venomous snake. I discovered this specimen in Killbear Provincial Park on the shores of Georgian Bay. It was a young snake being only about 12-14 inches in length and a small two segment rattle, however, it’s markings were striking. As I photographed this snake for well over an hour, several folks stopped to see what I was taking photos of and I let them see an enlarged , close-up view of the snake through the Live View feature of the D800. The kids that stopped thought it was pretty awesome to see a close up view and personally the more folks that think these snakes are awesome critters the better chance they will have for survival. I was pleased that the snake had a peaceful pose to it. All to often I see photographs of rattlesnakes that are curled up and in position to strike, a clear indication of a snake that is agitated. And for the record, only one person has ever died in Ontario from an Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake bite and that individual never sought treatment. Furthermore, roughly 25% of venomous snake bites are considered to be ‘dry’ bites, that is no venom is injected. The snakes would rather conserve their precious venom for subduing their next meal.
Since the snake was in rather heavy shade I bumped up the ISO to 800 and selected an aperture of f16 to keep as much of the snakes body as possible in focus. Once I composed the images that I wanted I switched the camera to ‘Live View’ mode and zoomed in on the snake’s head and eye and manually focused my tripod mounted Nikon 80-400mm VR lens (VR off). The more I play around with the usefulness of the “Live View’ mode the more I am liking it.
Click on each of the photos to view a larger, sharper version.