Camera model: Canon DSLR 1200D.

Lens used: 56mm to 255 mm zoom lens

Settings : Macro mode.

Distance between object and camera was about 2m.

Can any kind photography expert suggest what could have been done to improve the photos I have captured?

My specific questions about below two image:

The greenery behind the object of interest (snake) is more bright and illuminated well. What could have been done to still make the snakes come out well.. I mean, only in the picture..

I am new to photography and hence I am still learning technical aspects and terminology.

enter image description here enter image description here

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    This is really open-ended, and in general as a question and answer site, we have decided against doing open-ended critique. However, we'd love to help you with more specific problems — can you narrow it down to a particular aspect you are interested in? What are you trying to achieve, and what are you uncertain about in doing that? – Please Read My Profile Feb 27 '17 at 13:44
  • @mattdm that's what I love. Thanks for your time to leave a comment. I will soon edit and try to narrow it down. – User323693 Feb 27 '17 at 13:46
  • Along those lines, it would be better to split the grass and snake photographs into two separate questions — unless the issue you are concerned about is a common factor. – Please Read My Profile Feb 27 '17 at 13:46
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    @fkraiem Please don't put partial answers into comments, even if you're just answering part of a broad question. See meta.photo.stackexchange.com/questions/4655/… – Please Read My Profile Feb 27 '17 at 16:17
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    Umar, I'm going to remove the second scene here, where your question is about sharpness. Feel free to re-ask as a separate question — unlike a web forum, on this question & answer site, there's no stigma against posting two questions in a row, and if they are actually different, it's the right thing to do. – Please Read My Profile Feb 27 '17 at 16:18

Nice shots! I think the biggest issue with these photos (with regards to attracting attention to the snake) is that the leaves are parallel to the snake, and lead the eye away from it and toward the edges of the frame. Of course, this is part of the snake's camouflage, so it's doing well!

Here are my crude edits to try and mitigate the effect of the leaves leading the eye away from the snake:

  • Cropped the image so you can't be led too far astray. The snake leads from a corner of the image to the center, which for some reason looks good to me. I also made sure not to leave more in the image in the bottom left corner beyond the leaf, because this leaf obscures the base of the snake and gives the impression that it's hiding and poking its head out. In fact, I think the photo could be improved by making this leaf more opaque (i.e. applying a green brush). Showing the snake's body appear behind the leaf on the other side would draw too much attention to the bottom left of the image.
  • Added blur to the leaves behind (and parallel to) the snake, and sharpness to the snake itself. Ideally, the photo would have been taken with a more shallow depth of field for this effect.
  • Added some brightness to the snake
  • I already closed my editing program, but in retrospect I might have added vignetting to further stop the viewer's eye from following the leaves to the edges.

enter image description here



  • Vignetting
  • Increased contrast
  • Reduced the brightness of the two major leaves in the shot. The one in the background was particularly distracting.
  • Brightened the danger noodle snake a little more.
  • Painted over the bottom left corner a little with a green brush.

The difference is pretty minor, but I think it's slightly better.

enter image description here

I think that with these edits, the composition is tight enough that the viewer can already see the edge of the frame in their peripheral when they view the snake, so they don't feel the need to look away and trace the surroundings.

Although honestly I like the original framing better in principle, I think the snake's camouflage is causing a problem and this helps to resolve it. This is just one way to handle the photo in post; do whatever you think looks best!

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  • my bad. Picture loaded after reloading the whole page., issue with browser. – User323693 Feb 28 '17 at 5:14
  • +1 the stand out effect is more obvious now. Thank you for the suggestion. – User323693 Feb 28 '17 at 5:58
  • Might be worth mentioning explicitly that you've cropped so that the snake's body leads the eye from the bottom-left corner to the snake's head, and the leaf bottom-right does the same thing. I personally would change the aspect ratio and lose some of the top so that the leaf top-right does too, but that's the kind of issue where everyone's tastes differ. – Peter Taylor Feb 28 '17 at 7:00
  • @PeterTaylor - Somehow I feel that the snake should be given headroom. It's imitating shoots that are going up and to the right, and so I think room should be left in this direction. I had considered that though. – Myridium Feb 28 '17 at 7:10

What could have been done to still make the snakes come out well

You're swimming upstream here. I don't know what kind of snake that is, but it looks like it's used to mimicking the plant. Instead of trying to make the snake stand out from the plant, consider framing the photo to take advantage of the snake's behavior. You might end up with a photo where the viewer doesn't see the snake at first, and then gets a surprise when they finally do notice it.

If you do want to make the snake stand out, I think I'd change the angle so that the green leaves are directly behind the snake. And I'd get closer (if it's safe) or crop (if it isn't) so that the snake and greenery pretty much fill the frame. As it is, the snake is hard to spot because both the snake and the leaves are put against a chaotic background of browns, greens, and yellows. If you had moved to the right a bit and zoomed in, it looks like you might've gotten the white underside of the snake against a mostly-green background.

Also, getting closer and using the largest aperture you can manage would've helped you to separate the subject from the background. If you'd moved as described above and used a large aperture, you wouldn't just have the white snake on a green background, you'd have a sharply-focussed white snake against a softly blurred green background.

Especially eyes of the snake were supposed to be more focused.

Nailing the focus when shooting a moving subject close up is tough. Taking lots of shots can help -- the more you take, the more likely it is that you'll get lucky. Using a smaller aperture will give you more room for error, but you'll lose some of that nice background blur that separates the snake from the background. Depending on what else is around, you might be able to use a smaller aperture (for more depth of field and easier focusing) and keep the blurred background by moving the camera closer to the ground, so that the shooting angle changes and the background is farther away and therefore still blurred despite the increased depth of field. A tripod can help you focus when shooting macro by eliminating z-axis (forward/backward) movement, but in this case the snake was probably too active for that.

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    Thank you for your sneer. I appreciate it very much. I read your answer thrice. – User323693 Feb 27 '17 at 15:30
  • Answer* I meant – User323693 Feb 27 '17 at 15:38

Like @mattadm said, it's really open ended! But if I had to change one thing with these photos, it would be the location of the snake! I would recommend you to read up about the "Rule of thirds", it does not always apply, but it's truly a good rule of thumb!

You wouldn't even necessarily need to retake the photos, just try to crop them after the rule of thirds, and you'll probably find some interesting results!

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  • Personally I have never found composing with the rule of thirds to be aesthetically appealing. Is that just me? – Myridium Feb 28 '17 at 5:17
  • It surely depends on the photo, but I would say I prefer it any day compared to centering the subject. But it's totally about taste and I'm sure there's no right or wrong :) – Tindra Feb 28 '17 at 6:59

Following Caleb's answer:

Crop the picture to attract the viewer's attention to detail(s) you want to emphasize.

Split the picture to multiple layers (snake; the rest) and play with saturation and brightness.

Next time, try to shoot with smaller apperture, split the picture and apply unsharp mask to the surrounding.

Try to shoot from difefrent angles, positions to get the desired contrast in the moment of capture.

Get used to the fact that You will use one picture from thousands. Animals are fast and they hide themselves as much as possible. With practice you can push the ratio to much more optimistic values, so don't give up.

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