Portraits of Wildflowers

Perspectives on Nature Photography

Almost camouflaged

with 44 comments

On June 16th we walked a portion of the main trail in Great Hills Park. If this Texas spiny lizard (Sceloporus olivaceus) had kept its head down and in line with the rest of its scaly body it would have blended into the rough bark of the tree it was on and we might have walked right past it. Instead, its sunlit head extended beyond the tree’s profile and contrasted with the darker background, allowing me to notice it and take a picture with my iPhone. As soon as I moved a little closer, the lizard scampered away.

© 2020


Written by Steve Schwartzman

June 26, 2020 at 4:46 AM

Posted in nature photography

Tagged with , , , , ,

44 Responses

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  1. It would have been perfectly camouflaged except for the head turn. Cropped like this it would make a nice print for a narrow wall between doors.

    Steve Gingold

    June 26, 2020 at 4:58 AM

    • I like your idea that a print of this would work well in a narrow wall space. We have a space like that between a coat closet and hallway.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 26, 2020 at 6:54 AM

      • We have a similar situation between doors and have a print of a tube feeder that has about a dozen different bird species at the ports.

        Steve Gingold

        June 26, 2020 at 7:01 AM

        • Ah, so you’ve already put your idea into practice. That’s probably what made you think the picture of the lizard on a tree would lend itself to the same kind of placement.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 26, 2020 at 7:08 AM

  2. It blends in so well! If it had been on the shadow side it would have been harder to spot for sure!


    June 26, 2020 at 5:45 AM

    • Right. Fully in sun or fully in shade, it would have been inconspicuous. Fortunately, given the way it was, I saw it.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 26, 2020 at 6:57 AM

  3. Fortunate for the lizard it was not on the menu.


    June 26, 2020 at 6:58 AM

  4. Some animals can camouflage themselves really well.


    June 26, 2020 at 9:41 AM

  5. Lovely beastie! Makes me wonder how often a person might be passing right by one that IS keeping its head down.


    June 26, 2020 at 9:58 AM

    • Your second word reminds me of Robert Burns’s famous poem that begins:

      “Wee, sleekit, cowrin, tim’rous beastie,
      O, what a pannic’s in thy breastie!”

      And yes, I have to assume people have walked right past these lizards at times.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 26, 2020 at 11:11 AM

  6. How very fortunate that you caught a glimpse and a photo of this beautiful lizard, Steve. You are clearly astute in your nature hikes, I like that.

    Jet Eliot

    June 26, 2020 at 2:01 PM

    • You know what they say: “Be a stute, the world needs more stutes.”

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 26, 2020 at 3:28 PM

      • lol

        Jet Eliot

        June 26, 2020 at 4:42 PM

      • I’ve always heard it’s good to be alert, because the world needs more lerts. I’d say your lizard’s taken the advice — and your photo’s proof that you have, too.


        June 30, 2020 at 5:36 AM

        • Yes, that’s the play on alert is the one I was familiar with, too. In the spirit of inclusiveness—and not including the self-belying kind where a whole class of beings gets excluded in the name of inclusion—I extended the play on words to astute. And how astute of you to notice that the photographer and lizard were both alert.

          Steve Schwartzman

          June 30, 2020 at 8:24 AM

  7. Pretty darned close, I’d say. Great shot, Steve. I love these characters!


    June 26, 2020 at 4:49 PM

    • Closer would have let me concentrate on the lizard. With the picture taken from where I was, it seemed natural to crop off extraneous material at the sides to emphasize the verticality of the tree trunk and have more of it to harmonize with the lizard’s scales.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 26, 2020 at 5:49 PM

  8. I was immediately reminded of the horned toad lizard, although yours doesn’t have the horns, of course, and I see that they are related, both in the family Phrynosomatidae. What a handsome one it is!


    June 27, 2020 at 5:21 AM

    • Yes, almost as handsome as the photographer. I’d love to see a horned lizard in the wild, but their numbers have greatly diminished. From what I’ve read, they used to be common in Texas. The only one I ever photographed was in captivity.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 27, 2020 at 7:36 AM

  9. Had a similar experience in the parking lot at Unity Church of the Hills. Was walking to my car when I noticed a movement in my peripheral vision. Was able to get a couple of shots on my Android phone before it crawled up the tree to a branch well out of range of me and my prying eyes. I like the way you managed to get the sunlight on its head and shoulders that clarify the difference between native habitat and native wildlife. Portraits of Wildflowers (and Wildlife) in their symbiotic relationships.Great shot, as usual.


    June 27, 2020 at 9:16 AM

    • Good to hear you had a similar experience and were able to get a couple of shots. In my case, the jutting out of the illuminated head and neck served two purposes: letting me see the lizard, and offering the contrast with the dark background. As you well know, there’s a lot more of wildflowers than wildlife here, but I’ll always take advantage of what comes my way.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 27, 2020 at 12:59 PM

  10. I love him or her! Now I’m curious if this is adult sized. Will research. Cute. He or she needs a hug – just don’t know it

    Dawn Renee

    June 29, 2020 at 6:29 PM

    • I don’t know how receptive he or she would have been to a hug, but I guess you could’ve tried. Even my slight movement to get a closer picture sent this lizard scurrying.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 29, 2020 at 6:32 PM

  11. I’ve never seen one of these, in the wild or otherwise. It’s quite a handsome creature, and it certainly picked a good spot to lurk. I like the bark, too; there’s a nice balance here between the lizard and its perch. Both help to make the image appealing.


    June 30, 2020 at 5:41 AM

    • Of all the kinds of trees the lizard could have been on, I found this one ideal, for the reason you mentioned. Sometimes we photographers get lucky.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 30, 2020 at 7:31 AM

  12. What a fantastic photo! Sometimes it’s almost as if something presents itself intentionally. Of course we’ll never know if that’s true, but I’d think if it didn’t want to be noticed, this spiny lizard would have kept in line with the tree trunk.


    June 30, 2020 at 10:28 AM

    • I’m glad you like this portrait. It never occurred to me that the lizard would have presented itself on purpose, and now I wonder how much interaction these lizards have with people. Perhaps herpetologists know.

      Steve Schwartzman

      June 30, 2020 at 11:25 AM

  13. Nice to show how it blends in with its habitat.I like the way the head is accented by sticking out into the dark background.


    July 1, 2020 at 4:48 PM

    • Actually, I couldn’t have planned it better, what with the rough bark on the tree and the lizard’s neck bent in such a way that its head stuck out.

      Steve Schwartzman

      July 1, 2020 at 6:27 PM

  14. Fantastic find, Steve! The long rectangle is perfect!


    July 2, 2020 at 7:53 PM

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