The Art Of Photographing Reptiles In The Wild

Reptiles are fascinating creatures. This animal class consists of animals like snakes, lizards, turtles, and crocodiles. Unfortunately, reptiles are often overlooked in photography in favor of more traditionally cute creatures. 

The Art Of Photographing Reptiles In The Wild

If you are interested in reptiles, photography is a great way of capturing the beauty of these creatures in the wild. To help you take high-quality reptile photographs, follow these simple steps:

1. Research Reptiles

Before getting into the practical side of reptile photography, you should do your research. Namely, you should try to understand the behaviors and habits of these creatures. This information can be learned through online resources or books.

Many reptiles participate in basking, also known as sunning. Essentially, reptiles will bask in the warmth for numerous reasons, such as to increase their body temperature.

It is best to avoid disturbing a reptile when it is in the middle of basking. Yet, this is also an ideal opportunity for photographing them. 

You can also use this research to identify what types of reptiles are more dangerous or venomous than others. You can either avoid these more dangerous species or take extra precautions when photographing them.

This research will also help you to identify where you can find reptiles in the wild. As a result, you can check these locations when searching for reptiles to photograph.

Some of the best reptiles (see also “Reptile Photography Techniques For Beginners“) to capture in your photography include slow worms, a form of snake-like lizard that is commonly found in grasslands and woodlands. 

2. Take Your Time

Achieving the perfect picture can take a long time. This is certainly the case when it comes to photographing live subjects. They can be rather unpredictable creatures that can be challenging to photograph. 

To capture high-quality images, you should be patient and take your time during the process. You may even need to take photos across multiple days. Be sure to take numerous pictures so that you can find your favorites. 

3. Respect The Animals

When working with animals, including reptiles, respect is essential. You must never purposefully interrupt or irritate a wild animal. Not only is this unfair to the creature itself, but the reptile could attack you if you do not treat it with respect. 

4. Utilize A Telephoto Lens

To take professional-level photos, you should experiment with different lenses. One of the most essential additions to your tool kit is the telephoto lens.

This type of lens is designed to make objects far away appear much closer. It is known as a long-focus lens.

This lens is ideal for using around dangerous reptiles, such as venomous species. Thanks to a telephoto lens, you won’t have to get up close and personal with a reptile. You can still take incredible shots whilst also remaining safe.

Aside from a telephoto lens, you may want to invest in a zoom lens, which performs a similar function. This lens will enable users to adjust the focal length. 

5. Look In The Correct Places

Knowing where to look for reptiles is essential if you wish to photograph them. To find specific species of reptiles, you will need to rely on your research. After all, different species can be found in different environments. 

Reptiles are commonly found in woodlands and grasslands. Sandy heaths are also a good environment for reptiles. 

As mentioned, the majority of reptiles will participate in basking. Therefore, you can often find them in sunny spots. If you are relying on this method, it is best to have a photo shoot on a sunny day. 

To make this process much simpler, you should research wild reptiles in your local area.  

6. Be Careful With The Flash Setting

When photographing most animals, you should refrain from using the flash setting (see also “How To Photograph Zoo Animals“). This is because the setting could disturb the animals and cause them to react violently. Plus, the flash can damage an animal’s eye if it is held too close.

Interestingly, research has found no real connection between reptiles and the flash setting. As a result, you may not risk irritating a reptile when taking a picture of it with the flash on. 

Regardless, we recommend that you refrain from taking pictures of these creatures with the flash, as you simply don’t know how they will react. Reptiles can be rather unpredictable creatures. 

If the lighting is poor, you may need to use the flash setting. Alternatively, you could use an alternative form of artificial that is less disruptive. 

7. Avoid Strong Smells

Moist reptiles have a superb sense of smell. As a result, they will be able to notice your presence just by smelling you. Reptiles can be rather skittish creatures, meaning that they may flee upon detecting your scent. 

To avoid scaring away a wild reptile, it is best to avoid wearing any strong fragrances. Namely, you might want to avoid using perfume, aftershave, or deodorant. Likewise, strongly-scented shower gels can be off-putting to reptiles. 

You should also try to make as little noise as possible when photographing a wild reptile. The idea that the majority of snakes are deaf is merely a common misconception.

Though many snakes are capable of hearing, this sense is much weaker than a human’s hearing. Snakes may detect loud noises, which can be perceived through vibrations.

8. Get Down

To achieve the perfect picture of a reptile, you will likely need to get low. The majority of reptiles will stay close to the ground, given that many reptiles have short legs or no legs at all. 

Getting down onto the ground will allow you to take photos from a unique perspective. You will see exactly what the subject sees when taking photos from the eye level of the reptile.

Just bear in mind that you can get a little muddy when meeting the level of a reptile in its natural habitat. As a result, you might want to wear clothes that you don’t mind getting a little muddy. 

9. Focus On The Eye

In photography, every picture should have a focal point. This is the element of the photo that draws the attention of the viewer. 

When taking an image of a reptile, the primary focal point should be the eye of the creature. There is just something so striking yet aesthetically pleasing about a reptile’s eye. Consequently, this focal point can allow you to create some dynamic photos.

Another fantastic feature of a reptile’s eyes is that they can come in a variety of different colors. For example, many snakes have sharp yellow eyes. 

On the other hand, feel free to experiment with different focal points. As a general rule try to choose focal points that highlight the parts of a reptile that most appeal to you. For example, you could emphasize the teeth of a snake.

10. Consider The Background

When taking a photo, most amateur photographers will merely focus on the subject. Though this is perhaps the most essential consideration, photographers should also take the background into account to take professional-level images.

To compose a phenomenal reptile picture, you should focus on the rest of the features in the shot. For example, you should try to get a snap of the reptile against a backdrop of its natural habitat.

This background will create a more detailed image, as well as highlight that this is an example of wildlife photography.  

Natural colors, such as green and brown, will be commonly found in photos of reptiles in the wild. For a more unique selection of colors, you should seriously consider the composition of the image. 

Photos of reptiles that are interacting with their environment tend to be particularly effective.

11. Utilize Framing

Framing is a key concept in photography. This is the technique of emphasizing a focal point of an image by blocking out certain elements. Often, natural framing is the key to a good wildlife photo.

For example, you could use leaves and branches to frame your reptile photo. Be sure to get creative when experimenting with framing in your pictures.

12. Capture The Reptile’s Behavior

Lastly, you should attempt to capture the personality and behavior of a reptile through photography. Reptiles are bursting with personality, which can help you to take some exciting and dynamic photos.

This will also enable you to highlight an aspect of a reptile’s personality that may never have been seen before. Attempt to tell a story through your photography, which can be achieved by focusing on these unique behaviors. 

Final Thoughts

Photography is a great way of highlighting the phenomenal personalities of reptiles. You can emphasize elements of these creatures that are often overlooked.

By taking these incredible tips into account, you can take some fantastic photos of your favorite reptiles.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Aperture Is Best For Wildlife Photography?

If you are interested in wildlife photography, it is best to use a wide aperture. Generally, we recommended that you use an aperture between F/2.8, F/4, and F/5.6.

Can You Take A Photo Of A Snake With The Flash Setting?

Yes, you can use the flash setting on your camera when photographing a snake. This setting shouldn’t irritate the snake. Yet, it is best to be cautious. If you notice any signs of irritation, immediately stop using the flash setting.

Laura McNeill
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