SCALING THE HEIGHTS…

A Common Lizard (zootoca vivipara) rests on the gnarled trunk of a dead tree.

Being cold blooded, Lizards rely on the heat from the Sun to raise their body temperature to the appropriate level to function fully. 

Photographed late on a spring afternoon as the Sun was beginning to set, this lizard had climbed a small distance up the tree, out of the shadows now falling at ground level, to make the most of the last rays of the day, and the heat they had to offer.

The tip of the tail, almost metallic in appearance, will be a result of the lizard previously shedding its original tail. This act of self amputation, or autotomy, is usually done as a self defence mechanism; either to escape the grip of a predator, or in an effort to distract a predator and escape. It is done very much as a last resort, as the tail plays a significant role in allowing the lizard to manoeuvre itself properly. The lizard is able to regenerate the dropped tail, but this often won’t have the same appearance, or level of function as the original.  

This image was winner of the Animal Portrait Category of the 2015 British Wildlife Photography Awards

PHOTO TECHNIQUE:

I captured this image using a wide-angle lens; the Sigma 15mm Fisheye.

I chose this lens as it allowed me to include more of the habitat than my 100mm macro lens would have allowed, whilst still maintaining a close, intimate view of the lizard. I particularly wanted to include the branch of the tree stretching into the sky, as, to me, it served to highlight that this lizard had gone to the effort of climbing a tree, as opposed to maybe basking on a fallen log.

A challenge of using this technique is the small working distance involved with such a lens. For this photo, the front of the lens was only an inch or two away from the lizard, so a very slow, careful approach was needed to avoid startling it, and sending it out of the light it so desperately needed back into the undergrowth.