I came across a prairie rattlesnake sunning itself on the road at Vermejo Park Ranch and got some nice images. I have posted three images here. I am not sure which one I like the best and would love to hear your thoughts.

I got down on the ground with him to shoot at eye level. I love shooting at or below eye level, especially for snakes. He rose up a time or two to take a look at me but never really moved very far.

Prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) moving, with flicking gtongue. Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico, USA.

Prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis) moving, with flicking tongue. Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico, USA. Canon 1Dx. 200-400mm lens at 560mm. ISO 640. f.10 @ 1/200 second.

He soon relaxed and let me get quite close. As I shot, the skies darkened and it started to sprinkle. I had to really increase my ISO.

Coiled prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis with flicking tongueg, Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico, USA.

Coiled prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis with flicking tongue, Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico, USA. Canon 1Dx. 560mm. ISO 2000. f.7.1 @ 1/320 second.

After shooting the eye level image, I thought I would try a shot from above of the beautiful pattern of its coiled body, head and tail.

I stopped the image down to f/16 to get as much depth of field as I could. I wanted to make sure that the eyes and tail were both in the same focal plan. It worked pretty well, I think.

Coiled prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis with flicking tongue., Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico, USA.

Coiled prairie rattlesnake (Crotalus viridis with flicking tongue., Vermejo Park Ranch, New Mexico, USA. Canon 1Dx. 546 mm. ISO 2000. [email protected] 1/30 second.

For all of these images, I waited patiently for the snake to flick its tongue. That added that little “something extra” to the image, as well as a nice, strong line, graphically. That is one cool-looking tongue, I gotta say.

I know that rattlesnakes are not everybody’s cup of tea, but I love them. They have character, just a touch of attitude, and are at least gentlemanly enough to try and warn you if you have gotten too close. Respect, bro.

That doesn’t mean I want one crawling into my sleeping bag with me, however.