Black Racer Snake

Black Racer Snake           

Wouldn’t you love a cool name like “Black Racer Snake” ?  Instead, my parents played a cruel joke on me by naming me “Bruce”.  Blech..  Which kid’s name is cooler, demands respect, and is the least likely to get picked on by Billy F. on the playground near the big oak tree:  “Black Racer Snake” or “Bruce”?  Hint: It ain’t “Bruce”. 

Yea, I got issues.

Forty Years Ago

Forty years ago, my teacher, of the Order of Saint Benedict fame, asked my classmates and me what we wanted to be when we grew up.  Praying not so silently to hear “Priest” or Nun”, she heard these responses instead:

  • Beth Hunter: “ I want to be a lawyer and sue everyone who screwed my parents and pissed me off!  Oh, and find true love.”
  • Bobby Chandler: “I want to buy companies and fire people!  Then run for public office and find true love.”
  • BambiCandiSandi: “Um…. Um…. Um…..Um…. OO! OO!  Get married, spend money, and complain!  Like Mommy! oh, and, maybe, find true love. ”
  • Bruce (Me): “I want to stoop over a camera for hours getting bit by bugs and flies just to get a kick-ass picture of a Black Racer Snake!!! Oh, and find a high resolution sensor with accurate color.”

Well I don’t know what those other cherubs did with their sorry lives, but I can declare myself self actualized.  I got a cherry picture of a Black Racer Snake.  So it took me forty years hobbled by a crippling name, but I beat ‘em all and did it with just a few pictures.

Yea, my issues run deep.

Black Racer Snake

These snakes are fairly common in the woods and marshes of New Jersey, and while not poisonous, will inflict a painful bite if provoked.  I saw this guy up in a tree just hanging out.  They supposedly climb trees for bird eggs.  This serpent wasn’t the brightest bulb on this tree as there was not much to find in this spindly thing.

I was very careful to not provoke him.  But then again, I wasn’t all that sure how one provokes a Black Racer Snake.  I dunno… maybe you say something like “Your mother was a worm who hung out by the factory gate!”…. or …. “I’ve seen bigger scales on a snapping turtle’s ass!”.  Yea, that will provoke him. 

I got issues with snakes.

I jumped quickly out of my car, not knowing if he would hang around for modeling photographs, and set up my already configured 500mm lens and tripod.  I snapped off a few good ones, then realizing he didn’t seem to be in a hurry to leave, went back to my car and grabbed my 70-200 f.2.8 lens.  This is THE lens to own.  Now I can move around easily, hand-hold the camera, take time to compose the shot, and have a bit more fun.

Tough Lighting and Exposure Compensation

Ok, why do you think getting a good exposure on this snake would be difficult?  Notice the darn thing is near black, the background is light, and the sun is strong adding damaging contrast to the scene.  Some part of the picture will be underexposed at the same time some parts will be overexposed…. too much dynamic range.

I shot many test shots and modified my exposure compensation both up and down to get it correct.  I won’t write about how to do this here, as my last blog entry dealt with this challenge.  Just click here to read about it.  But even then I had some overexposed areas on the snake head where its scales reflected the bright sun.  To mute these areas, I used the Lightroom 4 brush tool to spot-adjust the overexposed areas by dropping down the brightness slider a bit.  No biggie, but the lighting range for this shot was just way wider than our digital cameras can handle.  The darn snake’s head goes from near black to pure white.

I got issues with contrast too.

The Equipment:

  • Canon 5D MkII
  • Canon 70-200mm L f/2.8 IS II
  • Canon 500mm L f/4.0 IS
  • Gitzo 3530LS carbon fiber tripod
  • Wimberley II gimbal head
  • LightRoom 4
  • Bag ‘O Issues

Location Types: Nature Reserve. Galleries: Bugs and Critters. Tags: 5D Mk II and 70-200mm 2.8.

2 Responses to “Black Racer Snake”

  1. Sue Combine June 3, 2013 9:15 pm #

    You are way too funny, and I have truly enjoyed reading your blurbs and viewing your masterpieces. Thanks for sharing.

    • The Intrepid Amateur June 3, 2013 9:40 pm #

      What is so funny about a man exposing deep wounds eh? I got issues.


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