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How do you take a manly wildflower photo? Hit the shutter once you're laying on your stomach and a Mojave Green pops up out of the bed of flowers and scares the crap out of you! This was my first rattle snake sighting besides seeing them cross the road all the time while driving in the desert! Luckily I shot in burst mode the moment I saw it and a few more frames after I jumped back. I was on my way to Death Valley and stopped here along the way.

I didn't know they were so mean and puff up to make themselves look bigger. Also didn't know the Mojave Rattlesnake is the deadliest snake in North America with 2 toxins in the venom, one causing paralysis! Get outta of my face you ssssnake!!!

I get the hardest time from some of my good non photographer friends because I'm shooting wildflowers here and there so I'll have to show them this one. A landscape photographer's life isn't spent hanging in a tree shooting squirrels!

You can view more of my work or get workshop info here at www.MojaveDesertPhoto.com

On a side note I just proposed to Christina a few days ago in glider over the San Gabriel Mountains and Mojave Desert. The glider had most of what a normal plane would have minus the engine but they can stay up longer then you might think. I caught a little bit of it on film with a GoPro video camera. http://bit.ly/wQG1ED

shared in #WildlifeWednesday

Entered this in the BBC's Veolia Wildlife Photographer of the year!
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458 comments
 
Congratulations!!! (Christina, not the snake... though the snake is lovely, too!)
 
Crap! Bears up here I'm used to. A bit of knowledge and a lot of respect go a long way to staying out of trouble but a snake encounter like that would make me fill my shorts!
 
Steve, this is one of my favorites images from your portfolio and what a great back story to the image. Fantastic image. Best Regards.
 
Adorei..observe a beleza com muito cuidado!!
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Mary M
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No, not the bg I was looking for :{
 
ALWAYS love seeing this pic of yours--such a great shot, and great story to go with it!
 
This is the coolest flower meadows picture I've seen jeh!
 
Thanks guys! The Poppy Fields are less then an hour away from Christina's house so I'm glad she kept in a little longer that morning!
 
Oh, and congrats on the engagement!! You and Christina obviously have a great time together, and I wish you both the best!
Mary M
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It was a zoom lens right? You didn't get that close, did you?
 
eff'in awesome! great capture. i'd be SOO pissed if that snake was out of focus.
 
I think it worthwhile to run the adrenaline incredibly true. Thanks for having shared
 
And THIS is why I always have a spare pair of shorts with me!

nice shot
 
Personally I would have gone for a more extreme motion blur effect, but to each his own. :) (great shot)
 
"A landscape photographer's life isn't spent hanging in a tree shooting squirrels!" LOL!!!!

You're not a landscape photographer anymore! More like an adventure photographer who stares down deadly animals! Amazing shot!!
 
WOW...I hope you were on a safe distance from this creature :))). Great shot btw :)
 
Thank god for image stabilization! That camera would be shaking if it were me! Great capture!
Tell your friends you shot it with a wide angle and were closer than it looks
 
Congratulations on the engagement and the awesome photograph!
 
What do you mean? I thought flower photos were always manly....
 
Glad you still here with us Steve, because I think i would have had a heart attack. Nice shot.
 
I have said it before and I'll say it again, that is the mother of all snake shots..The greatest snake shot ever...
Did she say yes up there in the glider?
Edit, I just watched the videoclip and she did, congratulations Steve...
 
Holy crap! This (1) would scare the hell out of me (2) is incredible!
 
Your masculinity is off the charts, Steve.
 
Ah, the original Garden of Eden, where Eve was seduced, or Evil began, something like that... :). A great capture!
 
Congrats on your engagement, and on a rare and fantastic shot!
Tomas M
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The snake is all like "What I can't pick flowers without somebody bothering me? F**k off!!!!"
 
That's an awesome photo without the snake, but with the snake!!! Holy crap dude! Also congrats on the engagement :)
 
Congrats +Steve Sieren !!
This is still one of my favorite shots! Besides the beautiful colors, you have a tranquil scene mixed with OH SH1T !!!
 
Landscape photographers have a dangerous life! Falling stones, avalanches, dehydration and now even hippie snakes!

Great Shot though!
 
I agree with Samir osman, pure poetry in color
 
Um, they only have ONE type of venom...it may have two or three major effects but there is only ONE.
 
+Steve Sieren Yeah, I'd say this type of flower photography is a step up in manliness from squirrels. :-)
 
nice proposal hop she said yes
 
Excellent shot +Steve Sieren Though I think I might have had to go back to the car and sit for an hour after this to calm myself!
 
killer bite there...............
 
Yea, you happened to pick the nastiest snake in the desert! These guys are to be avoided like crazy...Next time use your walking stick to flush out your area! lolololol
 
that would scare the crap out of me! to close for comfort.
 
I don't know who you are but I love this picture.
 
Awesome photo. +Box Brothers Corp
 
Holly Crap!!!!!! I would have passed out right there. Great shot
 
Great shot but I would have froze in place.
 
That's not manly, that's BEAST mode. Great photo!
 
Great:( Now the ex wife is on google+
 
Wow! I can just see myself having a heart attack if this were to happen to me while I was engrossed in a bug shot! Great photograph.
 
Wow.. amazing. I recently crossed paths with a yellow belly black snake, I tried to get a photo of it, but my hands were shaking too much and the clicking of the shutter only drew its attention to me.
 
Unbelievable... how deceptive may beauty be sometimes ... brrrrrrrrrr
 
What an unbelievable shot! The raging beauty of the flowers and what could have been a nasty bite and sickness yet somehow it REALLY works! I LOVE IT!!!!!!! Are you a photographer by career or was this just the luckiest thing that could happen. Would love to know more about you. Stephanie
 
100% amazing photo! Skill doesn't hurt, but luck can be everything!
 
I am positive I would have peed my pants! Great shot!!!!
 
Me and brother about 20 yrs ago used go out and catch them and put them in a wood box that we cared in car. One night had one box full of rattle snakes and the other box had about 1/4 of bull snakes in it, my brother was drinking heavily and was driving. Easier for me to get out when we spotted snake, any how he was driving fast and this road is up and down, rolling plains, if your from around here, it was south of Sweetwater. There's a bad curve on the road with the land rolling, you come on it for you know it. He didn't make curve went straight ahead, on further there's a 20ft drop off. He slid car to a stop, when I catch snake, he opens lid of box and closes it. He forgot to latch it down and the boxes went over the seat in his station wagon. Practically down our backs, we managed to get out without being bit. We ran to front of car to light, both reached there about same time. He made a noise like relieved just about the time I hit him, breaking his nose.
 
WOW!!!! Cool story and absolute AWESOME shot! 
 
OMG - that would have scared the crap outa me to
 
"Excuse me, are you a member of this meadow?"
 
GREAT! absolutely amazing!!! the flowers are so beautiful then the snake is so deadly. Ive never had 2 feeling at once, life and death!! Frame it and hang it.
 
Great shot! You must have a good camera!
 
Seems like there should be an anti venom pen like the epipen don't you think so?
 
A lovely piece of serendipity there.
 
yep those are nasty critters, best leave them be :)
Gr8 image
 
Remember he is more afraid of you.... No wait, not likely. :)
 
A snake is a snake. Hows the heart rate going.
 
You are a VERY lucky man to be able to get away! Western rattlers are extremely volatile, almost as bad a water moccasin.
 
Wow I guess you where luck not to get bit......nice photo though.
 
Your big scary lens almost made that snake fill HIS shorts. Good thing you got out of there, though, or else you'd have the silliest thing to put on your headstone.
 
This is a stunning capture!! Beauty and danger in the same shot.

And congrats on your engagement! :)
 
he was striking a pose. thank god you came out of it unscathed! :)
 
Ye gods!!! I'll BET you jumped back! (Personally, I'd have been in the next county over when I would have landed if that happened to me.) Congrats you even retrieved your camera. Sure hope you shot that with a zoom lens.
 
Awesome! hey man this is inspiration for me - 'livin' on the edge'! haha
 
I'll bet it didn't smell like flowers after this.
 
Great pic and great story. Glad you are OK.
 
kanta laga
oye laga haye laga
 
You make me want to be a photographer.
 
Adorable! Can't be that mean +Steve Sieren . There are some rattlers that won't give warning and a water moccasin will chase you down if you get in what they consider their territory
 
Awesome +Steve Sieren
Major Kudos on having the presence of mind to press the shutter button with that coming at you, no matter how scared you were.
 
One of those incredible moments when you take a picture for something you have in mind, and something else happens..
 
Love the snake shaped flower you captured here. Very manly
 
I would like to say that the egyptian symbol for danger is a kind of pole with a triangle-head among flowers.It has been perpetuated in garden fences made of steel.It seems that heroglyphs are still alive!
 
Pretty and dangerous at the same time. Excellent!
 
such a bad ass photo.
Yuan Ge
 
哟,好美的蛇
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But who was more surprised? 
 
Amazing! Shot of a life time! (Glad you've been able to write about it!) Congratulations on your proposal! An abundance of Love and Prosperity to you both.
 
I have shared this picture before with a "Howdy from Texas" title. I had no idea who the photographer was at the time. Nice to know.
 
Yikes! Pretty wildflowers though
 
awesome photo and love how deadly life can be in the midst of beauty
 
That snake is definitely saying "Get off my land"
 
Hope you had TP with you!
 
this is a dead trap.......the snake has been swallowing frogs and rats its throat is swallowen
 
Awesome! Hope you brought a change of shorts on the shoot.
 
f'ing awesome!! My favorite wildflower pic ever! You're lucky you didn't get something else to remember him by!
 
Wow thay is some capture!
I'm so happy to hear you made it away from there with no new 'piercings!'
Pretty nice wild flowers too!

 
I think I would have forgotten how to work the camera.
 
Gorgeous picture of one of nature's most dangerous reptiles. Love it.
 
Awesome heart stopper shot
 
I'm pretty sure that's not flowers I'm smelling!
 
woa!! wish i could hold one
 
It's probably already in your house. In the USA we call it the democratic party.
Go ahead, chastise me, call me a hater, a troll, whatever the plussers do when someone doesn't follow the norm...
A snake in the grass... is... what it is.
 
eww I hate snakes forget the pic I would just come back and do it another day.
 
Terrifying and amazing.. well done and a big congratulations too! :)
 
Very cool picture, did he strike at you or just look mean?
 
HOLY CRAPAMOLE!!! JEEEEZ howdyu take that pic, man! Thats frekin awesome!!! lil bit scary tho.....
 
I would've did something other than just be scared. Lol
 
Great Photo --Good enough --Let AZ highways share it for you
 
Yeah those guys are not one to mess with.

 
Did you remember to get a model release from the snake?
 
+Steve Sieren This amazing image has stuck with me since I first saw it last year! Such a great image - and congratulations on your engagement. That is a pretty cool place to propose I think!
 
Do we have to change your last name to Irwin now?
 
Spectacular moment...glad you survived it to take many more unique and inspiring photographic endeavors!
 
Love the colors in this photo!
 
I love it even if the snake it would be cool if it strucked at the cam
 
Congratulations, on all counts, especially for surviving your encounter!
Cathy O
 
Amazing shot, glad it was you instead of me!
Nando A
 
Dang that dood means biz.
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that is relly big and scary why were u that close the that monstroity of a thing
 
OMG!!! You're very brave then! I'd die of a heart attack! This is an awesome shot :))
 
A SNAKE ... A SNAKE .... ITS A SNAKE .... (no badgers or mushrooms, I'm disappointed)
 
Wow amazing photo all the same love it 
 
meeeehn!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
 
You took him by surprise. Be careful.
 
I have bee n known to levitate in the presence of "rattlers". Yikes! What focal length was this?
 
I'm sure that I would have pooped a little.
 
Yeah I definitely would have poo'd
 
it was worth it... beautiful shot....
 
Wow,that's scary and I garden.but get photography.
 
I know but it seemed appropriate. I was flying blind.
 
A little? More than a large molehill,
 
+Stephanie Bolling, thanks for asking!! I am a career photographer, I shoot fine art landscape and commercial architecture. Mostly in California but I do get further sometimes. I never seek out wildlife, it just occasionally pops in front of me. Here's a link to my website www.SteveSieren.com thanks!
 
What an absolutely incredible photo. AMAZING
 
+Steve Sieren pretty sweeeet ! to bad you couldn't get the rattle in there - you should have coxed him.......plus not to worry they can only strike two/thirds their body length - for example a three foot snake can only strike 2 feet. i see them all the time in colorado and wyoming - but never in a blanket of wild flowers ! this is dope !
 
killer shot, you;re a real trooper!
 
I've never stopped to take their picture. This is very nice even if it is a rattlesnake. I have bopped more than I can count on the head with my trusty shovel.
 
way d go dude ! thats an amazing shot, ur crazy but i love it
 
thats so totally wicked...congrats on the survivng
 
You know you can pet this type of snake! Oh and they are tasty!!!!
 
There aren't enough depends in this world for me to have survived that!
 
Correction: the snake is not being "mean", it's being defensive!
 
nice pic wow i would not want to be there
 
This is a great piece!!!!! love it Great Art Work!!!!!!!!!! In the right place at the right time!!!! Actually it's breath taking.
 
+eDDie TK , you may have missed the rattle, it's slightly blurred and looks like a dead lupine. I just thought about hitting the focus right between it's eyes and off centering it, not much else in that quick moment!
 
that is seriously creepy....I hate snakes!
 
Very dangerous venom from this rather aggressive snake. You were very lucky. Must have been in the southern Cal Desert.
 
Too cool. Is this image available on the web or is it for sale when I can (eventually) afford it?
 
im 11 and i've had been bitten enough by rattlers,@*%!ing cursed things
 
That is the coolest picture of wildflowers I have ever seen.
 
Congrats for this wonderfull photo!
 
It is one of the best photo I have seen showing stunning steadiness with fear running down your body. Great decision to go head with the photo shoot. Take care.
 
If he's in north Carolina I'm leaving.lol
 
Wow! how did you manage to still take the picture. This is a great shot.
 
This is a beautiful picture. The beauty of the flowers is accentuated by the danger of the snake.
 
+Steve Sieren - I don't know you, so I'm sorry for prying, but you can't tell a story about proposing without revealing the outcome. I hope congrats are in order!
 
An excellent shot, congratulations for escaping the venomous snake.
 
Still has to be one of the best wildlife shots ever!
 
It is fun when you just have to take the shot. Then there is this.
 
Cool now y can't I get a pic like that nice 
 
That's amazing to get a picture like that
 
Pretty dang manly! I've taken a few myself, but never on my stomach, and never without a zoom. I prefer thick walled glass, too, if I have a choice.
 
Outstanding! Great example of when one-and-done is probably the smartest move. Wow!
 
Incredible picture! talk about being at the right place at the right time :)
 
dangerous.....................
 
n beautiful...................
 
Nice pic...Mr. Snake...U r just like best model
 
Very nice pictures - would be for desktop as well!
 
Absolutely awesome photo. What camera lens and settings did you shot with.
 
Be careful walking through there ! Very good picture .
 
how funny I would run instead of taking a picture omg
 
How did you ever get a shot like this? Wow! Thanks for sharing this one.
 
did you look at the first photos? they are awkward but very cool.
 
victory and top is always empty if you have power to get it.
 
Yikes. Shudder shudder, sort of disturbs the quiet serenity of lovely wild flowers.
 
pretty airy. perhaps taken from a wildelife documentary. Hoeever still amazi8ng.
 
Pretty airy. Perhaps taken from a wildelife documentary. However still amazing.
 
Holy cow! Err, snake! Still, nice timing!:)
 
Would be cool to see those photo bursts when you freak out :)
 
awesome photo but bet your heart was slightly beating lol
 
Too ugly and big where was this at
 
Nice shot and congratulations!
 
wow that's a beautiful pic!
 
i wouldnt have been able to continue shooting. i hate snakes. id have screamed like the girl i am and run!!! i get the chills just seeing this photo. Amazing shot though.
 
I love snakes. This is an incredible photo. I cannot even imagine the feeling of being able to take such an incredible photo. I realize that it was not a planned event, but if there is an award for photos of this nature, you more than deserve it for having the ability to remain in place to take it. As an amateur photographer, I am extremely envious. Even without the snake, it is an incredible photo. Thanks for sharing.
 
I love your job this is very nice job .........
 
Oh my goodness! I would have had a heart attack!
 
Holy Moly, that is scary stuff! Beautiful shot.
 
Wow I had to look at this a few times to make sure what I saw. Beautifully manly. 
Shawn K
 
If a photographer shits in the woods ... And there's nobody there to smell it, does it still stink?
 
that very scary creature....but when I was a kid I used to hunt them.
 
Reminds me of that old saying....Beauty is only skin deep !! Be careful...
 
awesome picture they will scare fire outa you
 
Holy crikey. This would make me pee my pants for sure! Fantastic capture!
 
Awesome shot, but yikes, talk about creeping me out =D
 
BEAUTIFUL PHOTO! But a definite "WTF! Oh Shite!" moment...LOL!
 
That is one awesome pix my china.................thought you were talking about a puff from a dube
 
Nice photo, Quick reaction, are you spider man
 
Damn your lucky. Not just to get such a good shot but to get away unharmed. Nice one :D
 
I want to see the pictures of you freak out when you realize it's there!!!
 
The photo is nothing short of amazing, and congratulations on your engagement, as well! When you can mention your engagement as an aside, you know you've had an action-filled day.
Raggs H
 
I know all about Green Mohave's. I have a skin of one. He was in the Belmont Mine about 2 feet from my husband, and mother. The Mohave rattled...My husdand and mother stopped dead. stepped back one step, the Mohave, settled down, my husband and mom ran out!!!!! After taking a pee, my husband went back in, shot the Mohave, thus I have a tanned snake hide. I am told they are the most deadly of the rattlers.. You are lucky. A great picture.
 
What a great photo! Congratulations!
 
that Is a good picture, and yes mojave greens are the deadliest rattle snakes, we live on the very rural part of antelope valley, so my kids know, when they hear that sound to come get there dad or me, lived in this house for 3 years, to date we have found five.....or shall I say they found my yard!
 
You used burst shot for flowers? Im going to start doing it too :) by some crazy luck I might catch squirell attack
 
Wow! Amazing! Fantastic!
Beautiful photograph and scary at the same time. 
 
haha, +Steve Sieren you should invite me along with you next time, I deal with all sorts of snakes on a daily basis :D
 
Guessing G+ only allows 500 comments so I'll have to make this last one count.
+Kim Song after about 4 years I think she saw it coming so close to our anniversary. Her dad didn't let me finish talking when I asked him. He said yes, yes sure you can!
+Peyton Hale I would of if I knew it was going to happen!
Thanks +Ruth Hoover , it was a nice little experience and who knows if it will ever happen again. If it does I'm sure it won't look like this.
+Jonathan Monnich there was a bit of sinking feeling or instinct at that moment telling me move back but I just rationalized my thoughts for a moment and knew I was out of striking distance.
 
+Steve Sieren OMG REALLY!!?!??! holy cow! this is what keeps me from hiking in the states here! In Alaska we DIDNT have snakes and didnt have to worry. I Love hiking but hate snakes! You have an amazing shot here steve no matter how afraid of it i may be.... really wonderful!!! going to read the posts associated.. wanna see if you have commented on how close you were, if you were scared, and did it strike at you! :)
 
Although this is a deadly snake, I think that the Coral snake venom is considered to be more deadly.
 
+Richard McKean, either way, you step on a rattlesnake and it will bite you repeatedly until you are out it's striking range. A coral snake will flee. That's why rattlers kill more people when compared to coral snakes. I wouldn't like to be bitten by either.
 
Holy crap! What a shot! I would need clean underwear after this!
 
Shooting Date/Time 4/2/2011 1:11:15 PM
Antelope Valley Poppy Fields near Lancaster, California, USA

I had planned on shooting the poppy fields at sunrise but had slept in but I still decided to go out and at least check the place out to see if it was worth shooting last year. There were clouds out and the light was soft so I was very content shooting at noon. I decided to shoot with my 70-200 to create flower blurs by shooting through out of focus flowers. A few moments later I saw a lizard pass right in front of me. I took a couple of photos of it and then heard some kind of noise over my right shoulder so I looked and there it was. It started it's rattle as soon as I moved the camera in it's direction. At this moment I quickly rationalized a few thoughts, rattlers can only strike half or 2/3's of their body length was something I've read many times while reading about desert travel. I did feel a sinking feeling while laying there but I just aimed and hit the shutter. I probably would of gotten up and jumped back if I heard the rattle before I saw the snake but I saw the snake first so it just must have been luck of being in the right place at the right time.

At the time I hadn't come across this species of snake (Crotalus scutulatus) before and did not know that it is widely regarded as producing one of the most toxic snake venoms in North America. It produces the potent neurotoxin called Mojave toxin which can in severe cases causes skeletal muscle weakness that can lead to difficulty breathing and even respiratory failure. Thank god it did not move towards me as I was laying on my stomach.

Camera Model Canon EOS 5D Mark II
Shooting Mode Manual Exposure
Tv( Shutter Speed ) 1/250
Av( Aperture Value ) 16.0
ISO Speed 400
Lens EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS USM
Focal Length 200.0mm
Shooting Date/Time 4/2/2011 1:11:15 PM
 
Super photo, but I wouldn't like to be in your shoes!
 
Most epic wildflower shot ever.
 
Good thing you were not THAT close!
 
God let you live... surely your life was in terrible danger at that moment!
 
excellent shot. i love snacks& flowers
 
 Ilove SNACKS and flowers too,butSNAKES are okay.
 
Well done, would have scared the crap out of me too ;-)
 
Incredible! Beautiful and frightening at the same time! 
 
Wow ..., Heroism above Flowers .., not the Snack one ..... But the ... Photographer. 
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