A Journey into the Art of In Situ

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Porter
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A Journey into the Art of In Situ

Post by Porter » May 4th, 2016, 10:20 pm

I'm posting this for a few reasons... This is an individual whom I've observed in the wild over the last few seasons. He became known as The Little Green One and later earned the name, Scarlip. This is the last time he was seen alive. I felt like like giving him a proper farewell and share the experience with all of you. So, I'm posting the full set with the exception of a few shots. It can also be viewed as a visual display on how to get good photos by working with the sun and angles in relation to reflecting light, anatomy, and balance composition. The concept is similar to english on a cue ball. With some simple geometry and use of reflective beams, one can use these ideals in the field to their advantage.

I hope this will promote more in situ photography as opposed to capture & pose. It's a much more rewarding experience and is a higher level of field herping IMO. I don't condone posing as long as it's done respectfully with little stress to the animal. I know as well as any other, sometimes it's necessary to make a capture if you want a photo. However, earning the trust of a wild animal in the field without disturbing it is in a league of it's own.

This was photographed with a 90mm macro. The close ups were cropped. Enjoy...




This is how I found him. I adjusted my camera setting to compensate the harsh lighting and began slowly moving towards him. Once in range, I positioned for angle and began shooting.

Imagescarlip by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr


This next shot was taken with the camera held sideways, corner to corner, to fit as much of the snake into frame as possible.

Imagescarlip1 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr



I laid there on the ground with him for about ten minutes until he felt safe enough and started moving

Imagescarlip2 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip3 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip4 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip aaaa by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip aaa by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip5 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip6 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip7 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip8 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip9 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip10 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip11 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip12 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip13 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip14 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip14a by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip14aaa by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip15 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip16 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip17 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip18 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip19 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip20 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip21 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip22 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip23 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip24 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip24a by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip25 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip26 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip27 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip28 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip29 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip30 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip31 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip32 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip33 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip34 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip35a by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip36 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip37 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip38 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip39 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip40 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip41 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip42 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip43 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip44 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip45 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip46 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip47 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip48 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip49 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip50 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip51 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip51a by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip51aa by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip52 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip53 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip54 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip55 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip56 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip57 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr



At this point I when into the view finder to check/adjust my DOF... as you can see, the Scarlip started getting curious and crawling towards me. I could really see much because of tje brightness of the sun and then he went into periscope, so I slowly scooted back to try and eliminate blur...

Imagescarlip58 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip59 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip60 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr


Then I started shifting angle to balancw out the background and lip glar. I like that brown coloration in the water and started preparing my timing for tongue flicker...

Imagescarlip61 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip62 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip63 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip65 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip66 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip67 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr



Now I had my distance where I wanted, good blur on the body separating the neck and head portion so the dark colors of the foreground and background portions of the snake didn't mesh. Nice corn cob merman look of the lateral... slight defensive pose from me wiggling my fingers... now wait for the tongue....

Bullseye...sniper shot...no casualties :thumb:

Imagescarlip68 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr



I tried Incorporating the brown in the water again... However the angle just wasn't the same. I felt like I had got the shot I was going for already. but I decided to try a few more However things appeared to me to be less appealing...however, I did like the low angle and really wanted more variation of bsckground. Makes for a more interesting visual...

Imagescarlip69 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip70 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr



Even though the grass blade was still fundamental in tying the shot together and creating an illusion that there was more vegetation going on outside of the photo, it still seem to lack the same quality without that brown color in the water. By cropping the photo to cut off the tip of the blade is the trick here and in the shots that preceded it

Imagescarlip71 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr


Although the snake was comfortable with my presence I felt like I had accomplished enough. I scooted alittle further N West and took the last shot. See how the adjustment clanges the glares blocking out the color reflection. This is definately a toss shot for me but displays the short amount of range you have to work in. However, if you are aware of it, you can learn to master the art of nateral lighting.

Imagescarlip72 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imagescarlip72a by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr




A few weeks after this photog session I returned to the den to find he had met his fate :( :cry: I knew it was him as soon as I pulled up. I figured I would try to photo some markings to show share with the forum since I've been trying to get spread the concept of individuals as opposes to just species and scientific names. Also, good documentation of the harsh life the gigas face in the limited crop field habitat.


Image20160407_121505 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Image20160414_174408 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Image20160414_174424 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Image20160414_174724 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Image20160414_174709 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr



I was pretty bummed out over this... It was similar to lossing a pet except even more so because it wasn't an animal living captive with me...one I visited respectfully. I was looking forward to watching him age alongside the other residents of the den, however utilizing the road for warmth is a natural instinct that is no fault to the snake. I have consulted and revealed the den location to a trusted NAFHA member who conducts some of the Southern CA surveys. Talk has been brought up about getting involved and possible access with some of the private ponds behind fences in that area. I know the psuedacris are doing good there because I can hear them calling from the road. This may be my last year of field photograph as I plan to work on other projects that are currently on hold. So, it will be nice to know that the right people will be looking after the well being of those snakes if all goes well.

Thanks for looking. RIP Scarlip

RobertH
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Re: A Journey into the Art of In Situ

Post by RobertH » May 5th, 2016, 8:05 am

Very nice series of in situ shots, with excellent commentary, to boot. Your analysis of the lighting problems and how to get around them is spot on.

Having watched Nicholas do this sort of thing many times, I know the patience - and artist's eye - it takes to get shots like that. Especially gartersnakes make skittish subjects and aren't easy to approach. The problem is that often, once you catch them, they will never again assume a natural pose and you're done as far as photography goes. Sometimes, when the risk of losing the snake altogether is just too great, Nicholas will catch the snake and then release it again at a nearby (just a few feet away), more easily controlled place, often near or in water, and wait for the gartersnake to relax and start acting normally again before starting to shoot.

Great stuff, Porter :thumb:

Robert

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Porter
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Re: A Journey into the Art of In Situ

Post by Porter » May 5th, 2016, 10:37 am

Thanks, Robert :thumb: Always a pleasure. Yeah, I tried the best I could with that commentary :lol: (Waking up and seeing the typos now) For some reason my flickr account won't display the bbcodes. I bought a month of pro account thinking that was the problem, but they still didn't work. I guess it's a windows 10 error from what I gather from a quick sleepy google search. So, I had to resort to using my android phone that is literally 4X2 in long :crazyeyes: It looked fine last night :lol: If you can read through no problem, then I won't put myself through the trouble of fixing it. (Sigh of relief)

I should have also stated that this session took at least 40 minutes. I actually find that gartersnake are the easiest to get in situ from. Reason being...water. They our bound to unlike other snakes. So, they are often distracted with hunting and then basking/sleeping in the sun after a swim. They will repeat this pattern throughout the day. I also should have included the method of slow sneeking up to them. Any fast movement will scare them away, as you stated they are highly skittish. I move my feet without lifting them off the ground and only about a half inch per 3 seconds. That may seem ridiculous, but that delayed motion is just slow enough to not trigger the warning signal. I do the same when making captures of a snake out of grabbing range which works great w lateralis. It took a good 5 minutes to get into a laying down position before the snake came up to bask. Once in possition as long as you don't pose a threat. They snake will consider you irrelevant and even display curiosity in some cases. I like to believe it's a vibe I give off, however it may very well be that they see a reflection of a snake in the camera lens and want to come up and say, "hi" :lol: A gartersnake submerged is a great time to reposition yourself quicky and if they have prey to tackle they are even more distracted. Just gotten move slow. I adjust my movement patterns to the way (speed and flow) of the grass and weeds being swayed in the wind. Believe me, they never see me commin' ;)

I remember you stating how my early point n shoot photog had inspired Nick when he was younger. I have seen him utilize these basic skills and come into his own in a miraculous display of professionalism :beer: Along with fatherly guidence :thumb: :thumb: I always enjoy seeing his photography. :beer:

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Kelly Mc
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Re: A Journey into the Art of In Situ

Post by Kelly Mc » May 5th, 2016, 1:47 pm

This was really cool.

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klawnskale
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Re: A Journey into the Art of In Situ

Post by klawnskale » May 5th, 2016, 3:54 pm

Poor gigas Wouldn't surprise me if it met its demise to some agricultural vehicle. Did you check the venter scales near the tail for micro branding scars? This is how the researchers ID the snake before they use a chip reader. Might be difficult to discern with now that it's so mashed up.

RobertH
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Re: A Journey into the Art of In Situ

Post by RobertH » May 5th, 2016, 7:19 pm

Porter, yes, you have been, and still are, definitely one of the major influences on Nicholas's photography. He's connecting with you not only on an artistic level, but also on an emotional level, if I may call it that. Like you, he really gets into his subjects, truly enjoying and appreciating just being in their presence. And like you, he takes a lot of time with and a lot of pictures of each subject. 40 minutes to approach a snake, or lizard for that matter, seems just about right. Especially with Collared Lizards this has really paid off for Nicholas. Gotta move slowly, slowly, slowly. This is hard for most people, including myself (I just don't have that kind of patience), but seems to come naturally to you and Nicholas.

Be sure to let us know if you are ever down our way. We'd love to hit the field with you before Nicholas graduates from HS :lol:

Robert

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Porter
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Re: A Journey into the Art of In Situ

Post by Porter » May 6th, 2016, 8:52 am

RobertH wrote:Porter, yes, you have been, and still are, definitely one of the major influences on Nicholas's photography. He's connecting with you not only on an artistic level, but also on an emotional level, if I may call it that. Like you, he really gets into his subjects, truly enjoying and appreciating just being in their presence. And like you, he takes a lot of time with and a lot of pictures of each subject. 40 minutes to approach a snake, or lizard for that matter, seems just about right. Especially with Collared Lizards this has really paid off for Nicholas. Gotta move slowly, slowly, slowly. This is hard for most people, including myself (I just don't have that kind of patience), but seems to come naturally to you and Nicholas.

Be sure to let us know if you are ever down our way. We'd love to hit the field with you before Nicholas graduates from HS :lol:

Robert
:lol: yeah, what has been now.. five...six years since we first talked about getting together in the field? lol

The one time I was able to head out for SoCal herping was with Chad and we were on such a tight time schedule with limited gas cash, resources, one vehicle, long list of goals, and only a few days to do it. It would be a lot easier if I lived closer.

Ya know, the porter is a very rare, strange, obscure creature and is seldom seen... Like the yoda, his mysterious ways are not always understood and often humorous. he only sets out upon a journey when summoned up to restore a shifted balance in the force of nature. If you have not seen him... It's only because his services were not needed ;)

Nick is truly an artist! ...and has a good outlook on his future in field herping.

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Porter
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Re: A Journey into the Art of In Situ

Post by Porter » May 6th, 2016, 10:17 am

klawnskale wrote:Poor gigas Wouldn't surprise me if it met its demise to some agricultural vehicle. Did you check the venter scales near the tail for micro branding scars? This is how the researchers ID the snake before they use a chip reader. Might be difficult to discern with now that it's so mashed up.
It very well could have! there's a certain kind of tractor roaming around out there that is super wide and extends across the Whole Road from left to right. I talked to a different kind of tractor (smaller sized Weed mower) operator who drives along the top of the Levee cutting down the weeds each year and pointed out to him where the snakes bask above the den. he said he never mows there which I believe to be true since they do seem to have that cover year round. I asked if he ever sees snakes in the road ahead of him as he's mowing and from his description there seem to be a lot of Valley garter snake gopher snakes and possibly gigas Within the crop field grids of one laned dirt roads. he said the rumbling of the tractors normally scare the snake away before he gets up to them. however, I I think that larger tractor May Scare a snake into its path as opposed to away from it, given the circumstances. I commonly see fishermen there and the den spot does get a lot of vehicle activity up and down that road even by people just utilizing it in their fishing trips to other places. I also took it upon myself two mildly but sternly lecture a young boy who threw a baseball-sized rock upon the head of a swimming muskrat. I've tried to explain to his father that they were a protected species and told them about the snakes... However the fishermen there are Russian and English is a second language that they do not seem to be fluent in. it would be great to get some help out there from experience filled her purse NAFHA to Help get some accurate and professional surveying done of the snakes that reside in that area by working together. maybe you can make some suggestions to the right people if this is something you would like to be involved in as well...

I did not check the tell for markings I did not check the tell for markings however I do notice that some of them appear tohave been tail clipped. the DOR photos were taken more than a month ago now I think. So the carcass is now long gone

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Porter
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Re: A Journey into the Art of In Situ

Post by Porter » May 6th, 2016, 10:58 am

Kelly Mc wrote:This was really cool.
Thanks Kelly :) it WAS cool to be able to photograph him before his passing. that was the first time I was able to get close enough for good photos other than the shot I got last year of him periscoping up through this floating blanket of reddish green velvet. I had my arms fully extended with a 90 millimeter macro lens... nearly falling down into the (deep )water :lol: you can see the scar on the 5th labial in this shot which I used to identify him




Imageperiscopin gigas by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

Imageperiscopin gigas aa by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

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klawnskale
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Re: A Journey into the Art of In Situ

Post by klawnskale » May 6th, 2016, 12:06 pm

Porter wrote:
I did not check the tell for markings I did not check the tell for markings however I do notice that some of them appear tohave been tail clipped. the DOR photos were taken more than a month ago now I think. So the carcass is now long gone
If the tail looked clipped then it definitely was a study animal. Tail clippings are taken for tissue samples to conduct DNA analysis. It could be a Hansen Biological or USGS study animal.

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Porter
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Re: A Journey into the Art of In Situ

Post by Porter » May 6th, 2016, 1:22 pm

klawnskale wrote:
If the tail looked clipped then it definitely was a study animal. Tail clippings are taken for tissue samples to conduct DNA analysis. It could be a Hansen Biological or USGS study animal.
This one did not, however the (assumed) parent to this one, who I refer to as Gigan, does have a clipped tail... unless is was nipped by a heron or other predator

ImageGiant Gartersnake by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

ImageDSC_1383 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

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klawnskale
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Re: A Journey into the Art of In Situ

Post by klawnskale » May 6th, 2016, 1:31 pm

Porter wrote:
This one did not, however the (assumed) parent to this one, who I refer to as Gigan, does have a clipped tail... unless is was nipped by a heron or other predator

ImageGiant Gartersnake by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

ImageDSC_1383 by California Reptile & Amphibian Appreciation, on Flickr

That is more than just a clipped tail. By tail clipping, only about a half a centimeter of tissue is removed from the tail tip. Your photo appears to show just about an entire tale broken off so it could be a vehicle tire or a predator as the culprit.

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