Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography


with 16 comments


Like me, you probably didn’t know that there’s a lizard called a chuckwalla (Sauromalus spp.). This picture from the Arizona-Sonora Desert Museum on November 7th of last year shows that there is.

© 2017 Steven Schwartzman

Written by Steve Schwartzman

February 2, 2017 at 4:56 AM

16 Responses

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  1. Great photo of a very handsome creature, Steve – what a fascinating tail!


    February 2, 2017 at 5:34 AM

  2. The tail reminds me of an armadillo’s. Its armor-plated appearance doesn’t seem to go with all that bagginess up front. It’s really sort of cute, in an awkward kind of way.

    I wondered about the name. I found that Walla Walla comes from a native American word meaning “land of many waters,” so that seemed an unlikely connection. Eventually, I found this, from the St. Louis zoo: “The name “chuckwalla” derives from the Shoshone tcaxxwal or the Cahuilla caxwal, which the Spaniards transcribed as chacahuala.


    February 2, 2017 at 6:39 AM

    • Knowing my interest in etymology, you won’t be surprised that I’d also looked into the origin of the name. My assumption was that the word originated in an Indian language and got transcribed by the Spanish, and so it was. I haven’t yet found a site that tells whether the Indian name meant anything (e.g. ‘dark lizard’) other than the animal itself.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 2, 2017 at 6:47 AM

  3. What a handsome specimen!


    February 2, 2017 at 8:30 AM

  4. Surprisingly graceful, this creature, and with such an elaborate tail. I miss coming across lizards.


    February 2, 2017 at 8:45 AM

  5. Imperious-looking for a critter with the nickname Chuckwalla. haha
    Great photo. I enjoyed the waves and sand dunes yesterday, too.
    The creeping plants have a hard time holding down the sand. Folks who walk on
    them do not respect that.
    I like the the waves crashing also; I particularly liked that they were not softened
    because their vigor would have been diminished. Save that for streams and
    maybe waterfalls??


    February 2, 2017 at 10:09 AM

    • You’ve made me wonder if there’s a guy out there somewhere named Charles Walla, whose nickname could be Chuck Walla. Stop the presses: I just searched and found there’s a Charles Walla in New Hampshire. His Facebook picture even shows him as a nature photographer.

      As for the crashing waves in the previous post, I assume the softening you mentioned is the sort that results when photographers set a long exposure to create a cottony effect. I’ve done that a few times just to see how flowing or falling water would look, e.g.


      but in general I try to stop the action and preserve details. I photographed the Rancho Guadalupe waves at 1/800 of a second.

      Steve Schwartzman

      February 2, 2017 at 12:56 PM

      • I like the cottony effect. This picture is full of life.


        March 7, 2017 at 12:28 AM

        • I’ve occasionally created a cottony effect but mostly I’ve used a high shutter speed to record the texture of moving water.

          Steve Schwartzman

          March 7, 2017 at 12:33 PM

  6. Fantastic.


    February 2, 2017 at 11:50 AM

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