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AUGUST 2021 ROUND
Title: A Pacific Gophersnake Uses Tongue To Sense Its Environment
Goal: To capture the gopher snake on or in the water of my pond.
I had an interesting experience and sighting of a Pacific Gophersnake, (Pituophis Catenifer Catenifer) at my beloved Ramrod Ranch. I almost stepped on this snake as I approach my small pond from walking around the topmost photographic blind. The snake was underwater drinking in my small pond. Its head was completely immersed in the water. I was amazed that it was drinking underwater.
I had left my equipment in my blind, so it was very easy to swap out my 600 mm f4.0 IS to my 100 – 400 mm f5.6 lens II, so I could get a frame-filling image of the snake on the water of the pond.
It was a big snake about four feet long. By the head shape, the coloration, and body pattern, I knew it wasn’t the more common rattlesnake. Still almost stepping on it, did elevate my adrenaline. Its coloration with the black botches and red coloration, including a stripe down its back, confused me, and my identification. The typical gopher snakes at my ranch have lots of yellow, and no red, nor any stripes down their bodies, rather they have brown and yellow diamond shape patterns down the length of their bodies. However, after sending the image to a snake identification site, I learned that this species has many different colorations and patterns.
After drinking it seemed to sense I was close by, thus, it raised its head and used its tongue to sense the environment. This was the moment I caught in this image.
Equipment / Source: Canon R5 Body, With A EF 100 – 400 mm f5.6 IS II lens, at 1/1250 of a second, f10, ISO 2000.
Technique: Handheld, laying on the ground, slightly below the snake to get an eye-level image.
Processing: I did some image clean-up with DXO new update Viveza, by darkening the out-of-focus body on the right side, I also darken many light areas in the water, reducing the light and the contrast of the area above the snake. The snake face was overexposed a bit, so I darkened this area too. I also used Topaz DeNoise AI on the entire image except for the snake’s face. Then, I applied Topaz Sharpen AI on the snake's face and tongue only, by applying a mask on a separate layer. Because I planned to enter this image in a Nature competition, I left the bright out-of-focus water droplets in the image.
Score this image: YES
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Review by commentator Tom S.
This Review is written by: Rich F
This Review is written by: Rick D.
This Review is written by: Dennis H
This Review is written by: Dave F.
I am a wildlife, nature, and scenic photographer. I now live in San Mateo, after spending most of my adult life in Millbrae. I previously worked full-time for Applied Biosystems and Life Technologies as a senior business analyst. I left this position a few years ago to concentrate on my true passion of nature photography. My Dad was a deer hunter and bought some property in Monterey County, so he could have a place of his own to go deer hunting. We have owned this property since 1946. I grew up spending my summers down there, following in my father's footsteps, hunting quail, dove, and black tailed deer--using a b-b gun, graduating up to a powerful hunting rifle. When I was eighteen I had to kill a black-tailed buck up close shooting him in the neck, since my first shot from afar had only wounded him. I saw death up close and personal, deciding from that moment on I didn't not want to be part of death, but to cherish life instead.
My friends and I do a lot of bird photography at my ranch in rural Monterey County, using photo blinds extensively; and recently we have built a few permanent ponds to attract wildlife.
I was a Minolta user, but switched to Canon in 2001. I used to shoot extensively with slide film; now I strictly use digital camera bodies, specifically the Canon 7D and 40D bodies, previously the Canon D1 Mark II and as backup the Canon 20D. I primarily use RAW capture, and process the images in Photoshop. I recently upgraded to CS5, and also have many external hard drives to store my raw files.