My DSLR setup is over 15 years old (Nikon D50). The lens is a Nikon 60mm F2.8 macro lens. For lighting I use a Nikon SB800 flash (also super old). I also use a “white balance” card, which is a neutral grey card that I take a photo of to calibrate all the photos of that set for ideal white balance.
Most of the success of my photos is due to the soft nature of bounce flash. Having a ceiling with the correct angles and distance from the subject is important. Also, calibrating white balance with the card makes a big difference. I shoot in RAW. The adjustments I do in post processing are white balance calibration, resizing, cropping, exposure compensation (amount of light), and sometimes sharpening. It sounds like a lot but it takes very little time once you get used to the workflow. It’s important that whatever you do in post processing serves to make the photo more accurate to reality. If you start playing with contrast etc it can skew things so I leave that alone. I almost always shoot on grey backgrounds as well, sort of my “signature” so to speak. It used to be grey a grey boaphile plastic rack, now it’s an ARS top insert.
One of the biggest boa breeders in the USA (Jeff Ronne) was impressed enough with my photos that he provided an all expenses paid trip (plane ticket, car rental, hotel) to photograph his babies from that year. I think that was 2008.
Since I got into ball pythons in 2018/2019 I’m a little rusty but I think my photos still come out pretty good for as old as the equipment is that I’m working with. Upgrade time soon!
You can see in this shot with my daughter the way the bounce flash can create big shadows when the angles aren’t perfect and the ceiling is too high. It still comes out well. With direct flash shots you get harsh light, inaccurate greasy face, etc. I’m all about that bounce flash.
Quick “in the cage” shot
Another upside to using bounce flash is the fact that your snake isn’t sitting in very bright constant light. Conversely a downside is that there is a fairly bright sudden flash that can be alarming. I’ve never found it to bother any snake but I do try to limit flashes with mutations that reduce eye pigment (albinos, etc).