Thorn bug wanted to be a school project

Found this guy (a thorn bug, Umbonia crassicornis) on a Royal Poinciana leaf today. Funny thing was I was on a school assignment to find an interesting item to make a story about. I grabbed the leaf because I wanted the leaf. I only found him after I got back to class. He was pretty cool just sitting there pretending to be a thorn.

Opportunity can slither in at the most inopportune time.

Since my wife, Anna was a child she has always been terrified of snakes. So this kind of put a blockade on any opportunities I may have had on adding snakes to my backyard collection. So when she left last week for a two week trip I can't say I didn't think for a moment in the back of my head that I would take the opportunity to photograph a snake.
Instead of crwaling around the backyard though I have been taking the opportunity to remodel a part of the home. Building and painting walls, etc. Stuff that I really couldn't do with a pregnant wife and child here. The thought of finding anything to shoot this week was farthest from my mind.

So it was pretty funny, when my new friend and neighbor stopped by to pick up some plants that I was giving a way and I found this ring neck snake underneath. As soon as I saw him I smiled. I knew he was there for a reason and I was supposed to photograph him.
Then the excuses started setting in.
"I have tons of work to do today and no time."
"I have two projects due tomorrow and two midterm exams on Friday and have to study."
"I have to clean the entire house to get ready for painting on Saturday."
"This place has to be done by the time, Anna and Anabella gets home."
etc, etc, etc.

One of the ideas I try to push on everybody is the fact that it is much easier to create the NO in our lives than providing the YES!
I started thinking of my many many mentors in my life. They are always with me telling me what they would do.
Then the positive thoughts come in.
"How often will you get this opportunity?"
"It won't take much to set up and shoot."
"Look how beautiful he is."
"You can always stay up late tonight."
etc, etc, etc

My passion won!

I spent about 10 minutes setting up and 15 minutes shooting and 5 minutes breaking down. It was a pretty difficult shoot. Probably one of the most difficult. Try holding a snake that is constantly moving in one hand, while holding the camera in the other, With the lens in manual focus, moving slightly back and forth with the camera to get the perfect focus. Did I mention the snake is moving?
And so you also understand, when using a macro lens at a few inches away, a fraction of an inch is completely out of focus.... And yes I am pretty proud of myself and yes I am bragging. : )

I used my elinchrom Ranger RX battery kit with a diffuser on one side and a 8º grid on another. Shot with a Nikon D90 and 60mm Micro lens.

The ringneck snake(diadophis punctatus) is a very common in Florida. It is fairly small and gets to about 10 inches at the largest. This guy was about that big. They are distinct by their red band around their neck and orange belley that turns red towards the tail. They are non-aggresive and only eat worms, lizards and small frogs. They do have a poisnous saliva to immobilize their prey, but it is not dangerous to humans.