Diamondback Water Snake, Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium, Dubuque, Iowa

There is at least one thing that any picture of an animal has to have in common, no matter if it was shot in the wild, or like this one, shot through the thick glass of a terrarium in the Mississippi River Museum and Aquarium. I’m talking about sharpness, in particular the sharpness of the eye. If the eye is not sharp the image goes to the trash can. Are there exceptions? Of course, as always in life. I have plenty of pictures in my library that will never see the eye of the public because they are not sharp, but I keep them for reference. The photo library is also a diary and can tell us, i.e. what day in late April or early May the migrating birds arrived from South America.

Back to this photo of a Diamondback Water Snake. Until tonight, when I sat in front of the computer screen, I didn’t realize that I had photographed this beautiful snake before in the wild but had mistakenly labeled it as a Northern Water Snake. The body part that reveals the pattern of a Diamondback is from another snake and beside that, I trust the naming of professional biologists still more than my own research. Not a big deal, that’s what museums are for, educational places not just for the young generation.

If you try to find out how the body of this snake is coiled in this picture you may get lost. What you see is the head of one, but underneath were three other snakes, hopefully enjoying location and climate as well. However, the composition of this photo is not an accident. I wanted to have the upper part of the body in a coil, knowing that the blue color of the background will still help to tell the story of a beautiful critter, even if displayed in captivity.