This is enough to chill any parent's heart. See that brown long ropy thing near the child's feet? That's a six-foot-long Eastern brown snake.
Bianca Dickinson, who lives in Western Victoria, in Australia, was taking pictures of her toddler, Molly, 2, while they waited at the end of their long driveway for the school bus bringing Molly's older siblings home. Said the mother, who often photographs her children: "I guess I was focused on her so I didn’t see anything else." Said Chuck Albertson, who sent this: "wee Molly dodged a bullet the size of an asteroid—a bite from an Eastern brown is as deadly as one from a cobra."
Photographically speaking it put me in mind of two things—one, the constant struggle to keep training yourself to be aware of everything in the frame; is that taught as widely as it used to be? I don't think it is. And two, the many times I've discovered something later in a photograph of mine that I hadn't known was there when I took it. Because you often do see details later you didn't notice at the time. Not very many as alarming as this, it goes without saying.
Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings, who wrote the famous book The Yearling about life in Florida when it was still largely unsettled in the 1920s, wrote a memoir of her life called Cross Creek. In it she relates her lifelong terror of snakes and the problems it caused her in her early years in Florida, where snakes were plentiful. She tells the story of working in her garden one day and seeing a tiny, beautiful emerald-green snake slither past. Thinking it was an opportunity to confront and overcome her fear, she picked it up and let it slither over her hands for several minutes. Only later was she told that she had encountered one of the rarest and most deadly snakes in the part of Florida where she lived. She decided after that to respect her fear of snakes and not try to cure herself of it.
In Molly's case no one was hurt, but the whole family was shaken up. "We know that they are out there but I guess we don't have them come that close to us," said Bianca Dickinson.
(From NT News via Chuck Albertson)
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Featured Comments from:
Anthony Shaughnessy: "It's remarkable how much that simple picture puts the chills in me. I rarely have that reaction to a photograph. If you had deliberately staged the photograph to make the viewer scared you couldn't have done better."
Mike replies: I'll second that. More horrifying than a horror movie.
Jay Pastelak: "Well, the finder is small; I always was taught that, when shooting fashion or glamor, one should keep a stylist beside him/her to look for flaws that couldn't be seen in the finder.
"But I've a snake story of my own: Years ago on a cool April morning I was trucking along a trail beside the Wissahickon creek in Philadelphia, 5x7 view camera and tripod on my shoulder and a bag of lenses and holders on my back. I was looking ahead and around me for photographs. I wasn't looking down, necessarily, until I stepped on a root that didn't quite feel like a root—it had some give to it. I looked down to see my right foot resting on a (fortunately) stretched out copperhead, a common venomous snake in the Northeastern woodlands. Did I say venomous? It's body was at least as big around as my arm (I'm not a real hefty guy but, still). My wife was with me, somewhere nearby; I think I yelled, 'Oh my God, I'm standing on a snake,' to which she replied, 'Well, get off!' I can't say I exactly leapt off of the thing—after all, I had about 40 pounds of gear on me—but I moved right quickly. Unfortunately, after that, my legs were far too shaky to keep shooting; I wobbled my way back to the car keeping careful watch over the path ahead!"
Stan B.: "I'm terrified of Australia!!! They've got the scariest, creepiest, deadliest creepy crawlies on earth; on land, in the water—the funnel web spider, the blue-ringed octopus, that brown thing in the picture, and countless others....
"Sorry, lost it for a bit—but every time I dream of visiting, that (admittedly) irrational fear takes hold...."
Peter: "Oof. When I was eight years old I was bitten by a rattlesnake on a family camping trip in northern California and had to get my arm amputated from the gangrene that set in. But it didn't make me especially fearful of snakes. Instead, I became kind of fascinated by them, especially king snakes because they can kill rattlesnakes.
"Rattlesnakes would come down into our garage during the late '70s drought years, and my mom would cover them with those big plastic utility buckets, set a rock on them, and wait for my father to come home so he could drag them onto a nearby dirt patch and kill them with a hoe. Then in college, in my field entomology class, we'd come across rattlesnakes without incident. If you don't startle them, you'll be alright. All that to say, if you shoot with a rangefinder you have a better chance of seeing undesired things moving into your frame!"
Mike replies: I was curious about what you said about king snakes, and found this. Wow.
Stephan: "Once drove over one of those, unintentionally. It was lying in the middle of the road after a long rainshower, trying to warm up again. I got out of the car to look at it. It was OK. I had just squashed the tiniest bit of its tail. So me in sandals, after hiking for weeks in snake-protection gators, not meeting one single snake in the outback, met this beautiful animal and photographed it, getting pretty close. Then I get into the car, drive onto the ferry to Kangaroo Island and remember this tiny book that I bought a couple of days back, The Most Poisonous Animals of Australia, take it out and there it is, Eastern Brown, second most poisonous snake in the world, and me sitting there almost s@#$ting my pants...."
roger fisher: "Hi Mike, let’s get this in context. In Australia the animal responsible for the most deaths of humans is the horse. Most injuries and deaths associated with snakes are because a human (usually a male) is bitten while trying to interfere with, or kill, a snake. Humans are not a prey species to snakes and snakes have no interest in attacking humans. Regards, Dr. Roger Fisher B.V.Sc, M.V.SC (wildlife conservation medicine) M.R.C.V.S. See this."
Gordon Cahill: "I've been chased across a paddock (field) by a big brown snake. It was considerably quicker than I am but the vehicle was close enough that I got there first. Stories of people being chased and bitten repeatedly aren't uncommon. So that's one of the luckiest kids alive today. I'd have her choose my next set of Lotto numbers."
V.I. Voltz: "Re 'A bite from an Eastern brown is as deadly as one from a cobra.' No it isn't. It's about six times more venomous than the most venomous cobra. By the usual measure (mouse LC50) the Eastern brown snake's venom has an LC50 of 0.03 mg/kg and the most venomous cobra, the Caspian cobra, has an LC50 of 0.18 mg/kg (we can argue about methodology, but this difference is pretty consistent). The cobra, on average, injects more venom, but not enough to counter the greater toxicity of the brown snake venom. One of my early mentors, the late Dr. Ann Cameron, taught a subject at The University of Queensland called 'Venomous and Poisonous Animals' which has really stuck with me."