Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Striking twice

with 29 comments

They say lightning strikes twice in the same place. Rattlesnakes are also known to strike. The first but not the second came true on April 27th at the Doeskin Ranch. We’d barely begun heading down the main trail when we saw two women a little ahead of us who were talking and looking toward something they’d seen. I asked them what it was and they said a rattlesnake. Years earlier we’d seen a rattlesnake along the same part of the trail, so that’s what I meant by lightning striking in the same place. As for the kind of striking that people are afraid of from rattlesnakes, this one showed no such behavior. It lay calmly across the path, not moving and not even rattling its tail. After some minutes of various people looking at it and taking pictures, it slowly moved off the trail and into low vegetation, where it disappeared from view. (Click the top picture to enlarge it to twice its length. The geometry teacher notes that that also means four times its area.)


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Yesterday we watched an excellent one-hour C-SPAN program from the Steamboat Institute on March 12th. Dr. Bjørn Lomborg, author of the book False Alarm that I’ve highly recommended a couple of times, explained why we have to take into account not just the costs of unmitigated climate change but also the costs of the climate change programs meant to deal with the problem. Those programs entail costs of their own that can rival those of climate change. The first 35 minutes of the video are Dr. Lomborg’s presentation, and in the remainder of the hour he answers questions from the audience. I hope you’ll watch the program.


© 2022 Steven Schwartzman










Written by Steve Schwartzman

May 9, 2022 at 4:36 AM

29 Responses

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  1. yes, perfect title for this


    May 9, 2022 at 4:59 AM

  2. I’d guess this was taken with something other than your macro lens? I’ve never seen a rattler, up here they are the timber variety, so no shot of one either.

    Pretty sure you left the word “never” out of your first sentence unless you know some theys that I don’t.

    I’ll watch some of the video but can tell you that I am not enthusiastic about folks using financial costs to downplay making changes that literally can save lives and aside from humans literally thousands of other species. Of course there are costs but as we saw with the pandemic, how do you place a cost on what now adds up to a million lives just here in the U.S.?

    Steve Gingold

    May 9, 2022 at 1:26 PM

    • I was going with the updated version of the adage, based on the scientific fact that lightning often does strike the same place more than once. See #4 in this article.

      It’s akin to the fact that, unlikely as it sounds, there are people who win a big lottery twice.

      As for the Lomborg, I’d meant to go back and add a couple of clarifying words to my text but forgot to. I meant to make clear that the costs of climate programs are not just monetary. Lomborg gives details about both the financial costs of climate programs and the negative health and well-being consequences those programs impose, especially on poor people around the world.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 9, 2022 at 2:34 PM

      • Most people say it the old way. Anything can happen once and certainly a second time but the odds …

        If predictions hold, and there isn’t much reason to doubt them, poor people will bear the brunt of the results so sparing them now would only put off their suffering. More generous humanity by those with the most would help with the financial suffering by those with the least while working to reduce the effects. It can be mitigated but people and business need to make changes and there needs to be stronger will to do so.

        Steve Gingold

        May 9, 2022 at 3:15 PM

        • The a priori chance of any given person winning a big lottery twice are essentially zero, because the chance of a given person winning a big lottery even once are so tiny. Looking at the situation from the point of view of the population rather than a given person, however, mathematicians have shown that the unlikely thing would be if someone did not win twice.

          Bjørn Lomborg is in command of all the facts about climate change, so I’ll let him make the case.

          Steve Schwartzman

          May 9, 2022 at 3:26 PM

    • And yes, I may be intrepid, but not foolhardy enough to try for pictures of a rattlesnake with a macro lens. I used the 100–400mm at 400mm.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 9, 2022 at 3:37 PM

      • I can’t remember who I shared this with a short time ago, but don’t think it was you. Back a few years, when we were taking part in “WHY TAKE”, a photographer, Steve Sieren, posted this shot, he captured while doing just that…shooting flowers with a macro lens. His story was that he was on the ground shooting when he looked up and saw the snake.

        Steve Gingold

        May 9, 2022 at 5:00 PM

  3. That’s great that the snake was minding its own business, and your presence most likely helped everyone else stay calm as well. Beautiful photos – buen trabajo!

    I’ve opened the link and will watch the program tonight.. Thanks!

    • Happy viewing. I’m so grateful for people like Bjørn Lomborg, Steven Koonin, and Michael Shellenberger, who look at the situation rationally rather than hysterically.

      As for the rattlesnake, this was the calmest one I believe I’ve encountered. In contrast, the one along a path in Nebraska five years ago was riled up and hostile:

      A striking snake, or one that might become so

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 9, 2022 at 3:33 PM

  4. It’s good that the snake was not rattled by your presence. And you were not rattled by the presence of the snake, it would seem. In NZ, we don’t have snakes, as you know, but we do have an expression which could have been used to encourage this rattler to rattle along. It is ‘rattle your dags’. https://matadornetwork.com/abroad/10-slang-phrases-need-understand-people-new-zealand/


    May 10, 2022 at 1:56 AM

  5. I like the title. The photos came out really well.

    Alessandra Chaves

    May 10, 2022 at 9:09 AM

    • You know me with words.
      These pictures were a lot easier to take, despite the subject, than various other kinds that I take.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 10, 2022 at 11:36 AM

  6. “They say lightning strikes twice in the same place.”
    Isn’t the popular saying that lightning NEVER strikes twice in the same place? And that this is – according to scientific observation – proven wrong?
    As to rattlers, as far as I know they can strike twice, but the second tome there’s not much venom left.


    May 10, 2022 at 9:47 PM

    • Steve Gingold asked the same question, and my answer was that I went with the scientifically true version rather than the longstanding false version. Maybe I can start a trend to change over from fantasy to reality in the world of proverbs.

      As for rattlesnakes, I wasn’t thinking about them literally striking twice, but rather of the striking coincidence that we found a rattlesnake on the same part of the trail where we’d found one years earlier.

      Steve Schwartzman

      May 11, 2022 at 6:54 AM

      • Thx for the explanation, Steve. I don’t think, though, that anyone will ever be able to change the misconceptions that appear in proverbs. We have another saying in Germany about lightning, which is often quoted but also untrue:
        “Eichen sollst du weichen, Buchen sollst du suchen.”


        May 11, 2022 at 10:04 AM

  7. What a great photo. That rattlesnake may not have been threatening anyone, but it looks distinctly grumpy.

    Last Sunday in the hill country conversation turned to programs designed to train dogs, especially hunting dogs, to avoid snakes. Eventually, stories of human/snake encounters began to flow, as well as recommendations for the best way to dispatch a rattlesnake. One woman countered the arguments of sidearm proponents by extolling the virtues of a well-placed hoe. As she said, “With the price of ammo these days, it’s a lot more cost-effective to just use a hoe.” I guess inflation’s tentacles are reaching farther every day.


    May 11, 2022 at 7:25 AM

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