The Amazon Tree Boa shoot with Jaime Thomas

3rd December 2017


The herp team caught a juvenile Amazon Tree Boa the other day. The snake has some interesting colouring, with black and salmon coloured markings on the back and belly. It was a bit feisty, snapping at Mark when he pulled it out of the bag. I held it and it finally calmed down, then started wrapping itself around my hand. We took it out into the forest for a photo shoot today and Mark brought his macro lens. We wanted to photograph the snake in a natural setting, but also in a more open spot where we wouldn’t get a distracting background from the surrounding forest. We walked just a short ways into the forest where the path widened, then took a long branch and placed it between two trees. The snake was placed on the branch where it wrapped itself around it in typical boa fashion. We each set up our cameras on a tripod. Making use of Mark’s ring light, we spent the next several hours playing with the lighting to get some interesting shots, along with gently nudging the snake to move it into different positions. Mark moved the light around at different angles, finding what best brought out the details and colour of the snake. We kept our apertures open wide in order to have a soft, blurred background behind the snake. We worked together with Mark’s macro lens to get some good shots although with Mark’s help I was able to get some nice ones using the macro setting on my 70-300mm lens. I didn’t have a ring light so I experimented with the light from my headlamp for a bit and managed to get a few images that I liked. At one point we stopped for lunch but wanted the snake to stay in the same place, so we broke off the end of the branch and pulled a cloth bag over the branch and over the snake, then tied the bag on the other end.

When we got back from lunch our subject hadn’t moved so that worked out very well. Tree boas make very good subjects as they will stay in one place for long periods of time; if they feel threatened and biting doesn’t work, they will curl up and try to hide their head to protect themselves, keeping very still. Our last shots of the snake were of it stretched out and wrapped completely around the branch. I thought it looked like a pile of mushrooms and Mark thought it looked like an ice cream cone.

We had a lot of fun with this photo shoot; if only all of our subjects were this cooperative.

Written By Jaime Thomas


Story written by Mark Fernley