Anole art

I’ve been taking a bit more artistic license with my photography.  That’s not to say I’m betraying my principle of only letting you see what I saw.  No, I won’t be Photoshopping out pieces of the image so you can enjoy a scene that never existed: if there were power lines stretched between the trees in an awesome view of autumnal foliage, you’ll either see the power lines or you’ll never see the photo.  I’m a purist in that sense.

What I mean by “artistic license” is that I’m spreading my wings a bit into different filters, different editing techniques, different presentations.  I’ll never give up on showing the majestic beauty of nature as it exists; there’s no need to since nature has such profound magic that one need never venture from the truth to find art.

But having said that, I’ve also grown to appreciate that nature can sometimes be viewed in a different light so to speak, such that it creates a whole new experience.  Infrared filters, cross-processing, over-exposing, black and white…  The list goes on.

Perhaps I’m engaging in a brief affair, a flirtation if you will.  No matter the source of this little adventure, I thought I’d show you some of what I’m referring to.

Take the ubiquitous green anole (Anolis carolinensis).  This species can change colors such that it never ceases to amaze me.  A group of them lives in the wall at one end of my patio (Mediterranean geckos live in the wall at the other end, hence I have diurnal and nocturnal insect protection when it’s warm enough for the reptiles).  Although I see these anoles when taking walks or when stepping out my back door, they entertain me and engage me at every turn.

But how many photos of them can I take before it becomes mundane?  Or worse, boring?

Not that I ever think green anoles are boring.  Hell, they show me gratuitous lizard sex at the drop of a hat.

Green anoles (Anolis carolinensis) mating(20080526_05846)

Honestly, though, how often can you watch cold-blooded critters doing the dirty before it becomes unexceptional?  Okay, for me that’s never, but I’m not sure you’d want me showing those photos all the time as though they represent something new and exciting.

A female green anole (Anolis carolinensis) seen through the patio fence (20080901_11693)

Mind you, the anoles create their own art without realizing it.  As I sat inside the fence watching them scamper and hunt and try to woo each other, this female stopped to look at me from a position on the outside of the fence.  She hung effortlessly on the wall as I looked through the slats and marveled at her beauty.  The scene of her through the fence opening made her all the more beguiling.

Still, is it new and exciting?  Is it even interesting?

A baby green anole (Anolis carolinensis) perched on a leaf (2009_09_06_028883)

On the other hand…  Take a little baby anole sitting on a leaf carefully watching me, a sea of green awash in sunlight, an unremarkable scene if ever there was one.  On its own, it looks like every other green anole sitting on every other leaf.  But give it a wee boost by cross-processing the color image as though it’s negative film, and something happens that makes it interesting, compelling even—if I were inclined to say as much.

A female green anole (Anolis carolinensis) perched on the side of a tree (2009_09_07_028929)

Then there’s the failed close-up of an anole hanging from a tree.  She sat there for quite some time waiting for lunch to walk by below.  Meanwhile, I kept trying to find a way to get a nice image while shooting through the fence—or from above, which I hate since it’s so anthropocentric and unnatural.  I regrettably never found the right spot that made the fence a friend rather than an enemy, so all the photos turned out poorly as she responded to my many thumps and scrapes against the wood slats.  Nonetheless, taking an unsatisfactory picture and turning it black and white followed by some newspaper aging seemed to offer something usable from something useless.

A green anole (Anolis carolinensis) hanging on dead leaves (2009_09_06_028789)

Amongst the endless parade of green anole pictures, however, I still have those that stand on their own.  This one offers the simplicity of a creature turned dark brown so it can absorb the morning sunshine and expedite its warming.  The contrast of dead leaves surrounding the vigor of a small life calls to me somehow.  That and I never cease to be amazed by the diverse range of colors this species can assume, and they do so for more reasons than we can imagine.

More importantly, I’ve learned over these many years that a state of mind—even an emotion—can rest beneath each color, from courtship to warning to camouflage to fear.  Over time I’ve gained a better understanding of certain hues that always mean the same thing, and I’ve also grown better able to discern intent and thought based on the colors the lizards assume.

Oh, but I digress…

A male green anole (Anolis carolinensis) displaying from deep within some bushes (2009_09_08_028942)

Seeing this male in full display reminds me of what I was talking about: being a bit more creative.  He happens to be sitting in an image I initially threw away.  Something called me back to it, though, and after a bit of fiddling with it I discovered he had something to offer after all.

So rambling aside, I’m saying you can expect to see a bit more creativity in my images, although you will continue to see the vast majority as they have always existed: just as the scene was in front of the lens.  Adding a creative flavor to them will exist as nothing more than a neat experiment, perhaps something I do “on the side” for fun but that does not detract from my overall sense of naturalism.

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