Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Saint Francis and the Dragon

Since a couple of my blogging buddies have been writing about anoles, I suppose it's time to come clean about my own past with the chameleon-like lizard.

In the summer of 2006, we'd just gotten a brand-new camera. It was shiny, with knobs and lenses and switches and menus. Despite knowing almost nothing about using it, I grabbed the camera and hauled it out to the Fort Worth Botanical Gardens. Some of my favorite photos ever came from that trip, but this is about a Very Special Set of images that prove just how spectacularly unobservant I can be.

It was July, and hot. A few hours into the field trip, I needed to sit down in the shade for a while, and I stumbled across a little patio. A big tree provided the shade, and a low stone wall worked well as a place to sit. A terra-cotta statue of St. Francis watched over the patio from the flower garden behind the wall. I was surprised to see a brown lizard perched on his shoulder. Sensing a Photographic Moment, I crept over and started snapping away. (I am a member of the "Take A Million Pictures, and One is Bound to Be Good" club)
I was amazed that the anole didn't run away when I moved in close. Certainly, it turned around to look at me, but didn't flee. I changed position a little, and took more pictures, anticipating how nice the two earth tones would look juxtaposed.

At the time, I was concerned about how well the camera could handle the light and shadow contrast with the automatic settings, which is why I kept clicking the shutter button over and over again.

I was in an awkward physical position. St. Francis was far enough back that I needed to lean in, but the wall around the garden was too low to rest my elbows on, and too high to put my knee on it. The concrete on the ground had a layer of slippery gritty dirt that kept me from getting a good grip with my feet. My mind was focused more on staying upright and not dropping the camera than on what was going on in front of me.

By now, you've probably noticed what I failed to see. I continued failing to see the obvious until I got home and loaded the pictures on my computer. It's a habit of mine that I often look at picture rolls from end to beginning, so this was the first one I checked out:

Wait.... No, I was taking pictures of a BROWN lizard. Remember, I wanted to see the two earth tones? I scrolled back to the beginning of the roll, and it was only then that I saw the anole changing colors right in front of me. I completely missed it while it was happening.


  1. Oh, that's fascinating! And what a beautiful green.... even though he is trying to scare you off. :D

    What a lovely corner of the garden that must be and how appropriate for the lizard to be there.

    (I am a member of the "Take A Million Pictures, and One is Bound to Be Good" club)
    Lol Joy, I must be a member of that club too! :O)

  2. Heh... I too am a member of the "Take a Million..." club. Someday I'm actually going to have to upgrade from my tiny point-and-shoot and learn how to use an SLR. Bah. Anyway, gorgeous photos, and what a funny story to go with them!

  3. Lesley and rebecca, I see that we need to design a "Take a Million..." badge so all of the members of the club can recognize each other.

  4. I'll take one of those badges, please! Great series of pics!

  5. Very funny story & what a great series of photos.

  6. I'm in that "TAke a Million Pictures" Club too. We need a song and a logo!

    What a beautiful lizard. But I thought he was supposed to change into the color of what he was on -- as camoflage. Guess lizards are bolder in Texas.

  7. this is very cool with that change of color!

  8. Great pictures... I'll take one of those badges too!

  9. I belong to the same school of photography. These photos are precious. In addition to the color change, I love the artful positioning on St. Francis' shoulder.

  10. Great shots. It's amazing how they gradually change color to match their surroundings. Great location for the shots too. Sadly I have seen too many anoles this year. Must admit it's been so hot that I haven't been out as much looking for them either.