There is a trick many photographers use to showcase the size of the species they are photographing. Many will use a coin or place their hand next to what is usually a snake or amphibian to convey size. This can be an effective an means but there are times when this method should be avoided. One time is when the species you are photographing is venomous.
When you work around venomous snakes regularly you tend to get a little too comfortable at times. Such is the case with this juvenile western diamondback rattlesnake. As a team of two, we film numerous species of animals in a single night including various species of snakes, venomous and non-venomous, around the clock, after long bouts on the road and while fatigued.
We came across this cute little button while road cruising in Caprock Canyons State Park and decided to snap a few pictures and film some interview footage of Ray talking about the western diamondback rattlesnake. During the shoot, a blade of grass had popped up front and center of the snake and was rapidly becoming an annoyance. Such material can detract from a photo and Ray and I were voicing our displeasure with this blade.
During our venting, for reasons unknown, I reached into the frame, by the head of the snake, and plucked that blade of grass out of our macro shot. The snake didn’t bat an eye.
Ray did! Though his screams were meant with care and caution, it certainly starting a squabble between the two of us. Me defending my “not-fully-sure-why-I-did-it” behavior and him telling me the impacts of what a costly mistake like that could have been.
The snake waited patiently, curled up infront of the lights, while I stormed off to the truck. Needless to say, Ray’s interview went un-filmed. I had not been fair and apologized for my behavior. After of course, explaining how I prefer to have the news broken to me that I had just, in fact, did something very wrong. After the incident, Ray explained to me that he has to concentrate to avoid doing the same thing I did.