I Shot 160 Images of a Snail

When I walk my dog at night, the sprinklers are always on and the snails come out. It’s a constant thought in my head to not step on the little squishers and every time I hear a CRUNCH under my foot, I have to double check to make sure I didn’t accidentally hurt one of the little guy/girls (hermaphrodites technically).

Well the other night I had a walking partner and I mentioned that I kind of wanted to take one up and photograph it. Normally I have one hand on the leash and another carrying his nightly poo-in-a-bag. Well, my friend picked one up and carried it back up so I could photograph it!

All of my lights are at my studio, so I had no lighting equipment. What I DID have, was my little Hue Go lamp. So that’s what I used to light the little buddy! Even holding the lamp close to the snail didn’t make it super bright, which I knew from experience, so I grabbed my 40mm and 85mm prime lenses for that nice, wide aperture they’re capable of. Also, I grabbed my macro tube! Because, let’s face it, I’m photographing a snail here – if it’s not totally dominating the image, it’s going to get lost.


So if you’re a longtime subscriber, you might remember that one of my first blogs was about How Photographers Narrow Down Images. Well, that was more for planned images. For spontaneous shoots like this, especially with limited equipment/lighting, even less of the shoot actually gets used.

Even setting the camera at its widest aperture, turning the ISO up to 400 (my personal limit for high quality photographs), and having the shutter speed at 1/60 (the safe minimum for hand-held photography) or even 1/50, the images could still be dark or shaky at times. With a macro tube between the lens and the camera, there is a small amount of bending and shifting, so risk of blurry images increases.

In the end, out of the 160 images I selected 10 as my best. That’s 1/16 images or ~6.25%. Actually, I don’t think that’s a bad percentage at all! Actually in high school, it was a kind of rule that if you shoot an entire roll of film, you were doing good if you got 2 or 3 fantastic images. Rolls of film had roughly 34 images (I always tried to squeeze 38 frames when I rolled my film, but on average, you know). I like to think that nowadays I get a much higher average, but when you’re photographing a snail in your kitchen with an LED light, I’ll take 1/16!

I did create a little video of my editing process. It’s a little under 6 minutes, but if you have time, I hope you enjoy the little sneak peak to my behind-the-scenes world!


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