I recently had another opportunity to photograph some of the new adoptables at Ivana Iguana Wisdom and Rescue and I thoroughly enjoyed meeting my models and learning about their care and behavior. I was accompanied, as usual, by my fearless handler Ian. My sister, Nicole, and nephew, Tristan, were in town for the weekend and they decided to come along as well. Tristan, who is 4.5 years old, was taken in by all the strange creatures and had a particular fondness of the turtles and fish. After brief introductions to the new residents I headed over to say hi to the ever-handsome Pierre. He still has a lot of bright colors and his demeanor is unwaveringly regal, despite it being shedding season.
So, on to the new models! As you browse the images you’ll meet some interesting critters. Mikey is a bearded dragon who is really more like a dog. He’s very patient and is a master at holding whatever pose I’d like, but still curious about his surroundings. Don’t let all the armor fool you… Mikey is a charmer! Carmen, a three-toed box turtle, actually has four toes. She’s the result of illegal breeding of an eastern box turtle (four toes) with a three-toed box turtle, whose habitats do not overlap in the wild. Still, she’s a lovely lady who enjoys nothing more than trying to walk right off of my backdrop. As always, the rescue has plenty of snakes. I met three new Columbian red tailed boas – Jake, Ramen, and Noodles. Jake is a few years older than Ramen and Noodles, who were born just this spring. Due to the very warm weather all three of them slithered around their branches and my backdrop quite quickly. When I photographed Smudge and Petra last fall they were the opposite and preferred lounging in the heat of the lights. Lastly look out for Spike, an appropriately named crested gecko. Thought to be extinct, these wiley geckos were rediscovered and have been made popular as pets. Spike can climb vertical surfaces and cleans his eyeballs with his tongue.
Spike also gave me a lesson in avoiding capture. He leapt off his branch onto one of my light stands, where he paused for a moment before leaping onto the floor. When he hit the floor his tail separated from his body. While he stayed quite still the tail flailed around. I won’t lie to you, that was not one of my better moments. Few things really freak me out. That was one of them. When I informed JoAnn that “Spike’s tail fell off” she said “oh yeah, that happens”. That made me feel a little better, but the tail flailed around for another 10 minutes and I just felt bad that the gecko broke. Fortunately he modeled quite well for me before making his daring escape. Don’t worry, his tail will grow back, prehensile and all. Nicole is certainly never going to let me forget about that for a long time.
I hope you’ve enjoyed another installation of my cold-blooded work. I truly enjoy working with all of these species and learning what motivates them. I find it a particular challenge to show creatures that are often relatively flat, straight, or both, dimension. In the case of snakes they often want to stretch out – not very interesting. By giving them a branch Ian and I can work to wrap them around it or drape them over it in a way that is both comfortable for the snake and visually appealing. I also use my lights in a way that highlight the sharp features that many reptiles possess. With cats, dogs, and people I love a smooth, diffuse light. With reptiles I can use harder, more focused light from lots of fun angles.
As with any subject, time is fleeting. Once your eye, mind, heart, and shutter finger connect, get the shot. Before you know it your gecko will be broken on the floor.
If you’re interested in one of these wonderful friends or would like some wisdom, please contact JoAnn at Ivana Iguana at http://www.petfinder.com/shelters/VT62.html
Peace and Scales,