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Spiked Beast



I found this monster guarding his lagoon territory in a residential area in Key West.

He did not seem pleased that I was invading his space.
...
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I found this monster guarding his lagoon territory in a residential area in Key West.

He did not seem pleased that I was invading his space.
After he let out a nasty hiss, I backed-off a few feet.

Hey man, I'm just on vacation !
There is no need for me to take an unexpected trip to the emergency room.

This is one of the larger iguanas I saw during my trip to the Florida Keys.
He was probably about 4 Ft. long, and looked like he weighed upwards of 15 pounds.

Key West, Florida 2016

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Awards

Winner in Your favorite animal Photo Challenge
Peer Award
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Absolute Masterpiece
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Top Choice
AlanPittman myriamverne-soury lazanzarapazza AmandaJayne marymwarnerthomas Yana_Gold ElizePrinsloo +10
Magnificent Capture
gordylindgren Jekawrig michaelfmoore Bruizaphoto terrysigns13 mlorenekimura photonblender +2
All Star
onyanita maryhale9534 PeterEvans23 Eddieuuu071 Morgan_Lytle JayneBug drighlynne
Superb Composition
KimTR cheriejordan reginaldgargaro67 angelundercover kdbeatty75 wideopenspaces
Superior Skill
floorbellini FeatherstonePhotography p_eileenbaltz jamiesarkett SteBil30
Virtuoso
GigiJim08

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25 Comments | Report
toxictabasco
 
toxictabasco December 14, 2017
Most excellent composition and capture of colors. I do mostly lanscape photography where the goal is to create depth and pull the viewer in. However, I really like the way this creature jumps out of the photo at the viewer.
Campbell_Rider
 
Campbell_Rider December 16, 2017
one very cool customer!
RuwanFonseka PRO
 
RuwanFonseka December 22, 2017
Excellent macro detail.
GayleLucci PRO+
 
GayleLucci December 24, 2017
I'm sure if this hissey-monster could see what a fabulous portrait you created, he would be jumping for joy!!! This is terrific color and clarity...
KayBrewer PRO+
 
KayBrewer December 24, 2017
Quite the creature! As much time as I spend in Key West, I think I'll start paying more attention! And avoid!
mihrt PRO+
 
mihrt December 24, 2017
Wow, impressive shot !
sigridbh
 
sigridbh December 27, 2017
Interesting colors on this monster - great capture!
CreativeArtView
 
CreativeArtView January 09, 2018
Beautiful colors and details!
Eduardbetz PRO+
 
Eduardbetz January 19, 2018
Awesome !
Alwolfe Premium
 
Alwolfe January 24, 2018
Beautiful photo!
Forrest_Imagery PRO
 
Forrest_Imagery February 20, 2018
Thank you, to everyone, for your kind and encouraging comments
mlorenekimura PRO+
 
mlorenekimura March 03, 2018
what an incredible photo - congrats
mlorenekimura PRO+
 
mlorenekimura March 03, 2018
I would like to be the first to congratulate you in winning my favorite animal challenge. This was the hardest challenge yet to find the winner because there were so many incredible photos entered but in the end yours just kept grabbing at me. Way to go and again congrats
jamiesarkett
 
jamiesarkett March 03, 2018
wow - congrats :)
eelcovanroden PRO+
 
eelcovanroden March 04, 2018
Congratulations on your Challenge Win!
Deboodle PRO
 
Deboodle March 04, 2018
Congrats on the challenge win! Its a great image! ????????
JDLifeshots
 
JDLifeshots March 04, 2018
Amazing capture! It is so cool how they just wander freely all over the Keys. Congrats.
michaelfmoore PRO+
 
michaelfmoore March 04, 2018
Awesome capture. Congrats on your award. I love vacationing in FL.
GayleLucci PRO+
 
GayleLucci March 04, 2018
Congratulations on this well deserved "Monster" win...
myriamverne-soury PRO
 
myriamverne-soury March 04, 2018
Amazing !! Bravo !
barbarabrock PRO+
 
barbarabrock March 04, 2018
What an incredible creature!
Eddieuuu071 Premium
 
Eddieuuu071 March 04, 2018
Congratulations on your win! This is a Great photo in detail and color! Well done!
Forrest_Imagery PRO
 
Forrest_Imagery March 04, 2018
Thanks again, to everyone for their great comments,
I sincerely appreciated all of them.
This is my first win in a challenge, I'm thrilled and honored that so many of you enjoy the photo.

It is probably one of my top 20 favorites I have posted thus far. It is cool to know that people find his unusual beauty as interesting as I do.
p_eileenbaltz PRO
 
p_eileenbaltz March 05, 2018
Superb detail in this image! Congratulations on your well-deserved Challenge Win.
GigiJim08 PRO+
 
GigiJim08 August 16, 2018
Perfect, lots of details!

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Behind The Lens

Location
This image was taken near the center of the island, Key West, Florida. After taking some sunrise photos at the beach, I headed inland to see what I could find to shoot. I was pretty psyched when I accidentally found these guys hanging around a lagoon in a residential neighborhood.
Time
The camera information from the image says it was just after 10:00 in the morning. I had woken up before sunrise to grab some images of the colorful morning sky. If it were not for the camera info, I probably wouldn't have recalled the time of day, except for the fact, that I remember my stomach was complaining from not have eaten breakfast yet.
Lighting
Being near the sea and in a humid, tropical climate, it was slightly overcast with a bit of lower haze, providing bright lighting without any harsh shadows. The lighting was great, for taking photos like this, a high shutter speed is needed to capture sharp images of critters such as this one. They were moving around foraging for food and fending off others from their claim, so they didn't exactly stay still and pose for the camera. Sure, they might stay still for a moment, but when they move, they can move far more quickly than expected.
Equipment
I shot this image with my Canon EOS Rebel SL1, and a Canon 70-300 mm lens, at a focal length of 220 mm. I had my tripod with me, but did not use it for this shot. This first images I took, I did use the tripod. I found, I did not like the angle of shooting down at the creatures, or have enough maneuverability in tracking them. After reviewing a few photos, I decided to the images would have more impact if they were taken down at the animals level. I found a spot about 15 feet away from the Iguanas to lay down on the ground, that was close enough to them to get a good magnification level, yet not too close to scare them off. Also, I was off the street enough, I didn't have to worry about getting run over by a car ! There were school buses passing by with children laughing and pointing and, retirees driving by at 5 MPH staring at me, as if they thought maybe they should call the police in fear that I might have escaped a mental asylum. Lying prone on the ground, I saw this new angle effectively introduced me into Iguanas world. I hand held the camera and, positioned my elbows on the ground to create a rigid shape that would help steady the camera as it rest against my forehead while shooting. Think of this position like a hunter might take while lying in the grass looking through his scope. Laughing kids or concerned retirees, I did not care, I was happy with this angle and starting clicking away.
Inspiration
Who wouldn't want to take photos of these strange looking and magnificent lizards ! I have always found them interesting, seeing so many of them on the drive down through the keys, I was determined to get a close-up of one at some point during the trip. It is one thing to see them in a zoo, it is quite a different experience to see them in their natural habitat (albiet, encroached upon by man). DO NOT, be afraid to to lay on the ground and get your skin and clothes dirty, both are meant to be washed ! Be respectful of the creatures you photograph, they are as curious about you, as you are of them; however, they are wild animals and should be approached with caution (as explained in my backstory of the photograph). Whenever you see something of interest, don't be timid about photographing it. If I was worried about being embarrassed, there is no way I would have gotten this image. I spent nearly half an hour lying on the asphalt and I'm glad I did. There are instances of regretting not doing something, this is instead, one of rejoice in doing. Whether the image turns out to be spectacular or dull, you took a chance and have captured a memory that will remind you of a time and place that is special to you; that is all that really matters.
Editing
I didn't do much to the Iguana in terms of post-processing, other than a slight boost with curves to bring out the color, texture and contrast. The major edit in this image was done to the water in the background. The blues in the background where too light and, did not have the proper darkness to provide a pronounced definition between it and the Iguana's colors. By creating a selection of the water and darkening it by 30% or so, the image immediately had substantial depth and "popped" off the page. The darker blue also emphasized the complimentary colors of blue and orange found within in the frame.
In my camera bag
I carry my Canon EOS Rebel SL1 and two lenses. The lenses are a Canon 18mm - 55mm 4.5 and, a Canon 75 mm-300mm 4.5. This is basically a standard kit camera package. I would like to invest in some "prime" lenses. As long as you use a tripod and or proper shutter speeds, I find most lenses work just fine. I still want more toys though ! The remote shutter release and tripod go with me on most trips. I have a pistol grip ball head attached to the tripod, I like the pistol grip style for its ease of use and quick maneuverability. I also, always have a compact (pocket) camera with me in the car or, most where ever I go, just in case I see an unexpected sunset, unusual piece of architecture or random thing of interest. - Fuji Finepix 14MP. Other items in bag are extra 64GB memory cards x 3 (ultra highspeed, HD), extra camera batteries x 2,with car and wall charger. The last thing you want when out shooting great sights, are a bad battery or memory card to let you down. Back in the days of film, I used to carry a ton of graduated color filters, now I just carry a set of solid and graduated ND filters, circular polarizer and lens cleaning kit. I do a lot of hiking, so I always carry these other items that are not necessarily related to photography, but could save your tail if you find yourself in a bind, they are: - Pocket size LED flashlight x 2 and spare batteries for both. These work great for lightpainting small areas during long exposures. - A Swiss Army Knife, lighter, mini sized container of hand sanitizer and travel sized Kleenex. The later two are good for cleaning yourself and small wounds, but more importantly, are also flammable and make for a great fire starter. - Sunscreen, waterproof SPF 30+ - A couple of paper clips, safety pins, bread ties / Twisty Ties and a small length of twine; these are great for propping up small items (seashell or leaf ) or for grouping things together, such as a bunch of flowers by their stems. - A compact emergency mirror, this not only works great for its intended purpose, but also as a reflector for fill light on small objects, such as mushrooms or moss. - Mylar emergency blanket. Packaged new they are 1/4 the size of a package of travel Kleenex and only cost about a dollar, not bad for a potential life saver. - Ace bandage, handkerchief, a couple of BandAids for cuts but blisters, one small blister makes for one long hike. A few tablets of sealed Aspirin and Benadryl - An "all -in -one" glow in the dark whistle, thermometer and compass. - Wool cap and gloves. Wool has much higher insulating properties than cotton when wet, but dry much more quickly than cotton or synthetic fabrics. - Water, Granola / Power Bar All in all, the "non photographic" items on my list, take up very little room, come in handy more than you might think and, could keep a misadventure from turning into a really, really bad one. You may not want carry all of this with you, but do consider adding few of the items on the above list to your gear.
Feedback
For this particular shot, getting down on the ground was a key factor in making this image work. Secondly, I would say the sense of close proximity to the subject due to magnification of the lens, which allowed the fine detail of textures to really show, is another suggestion to creating something similar to this photograph. Probably the most important aspect to this is, " Go for it !" As mentioned earlier, don't be timid. Of course, be smart in your approach both photographically and safety wise, but otherwise "just do it " as Nike would say. Shoot like crazy, and experiment. When you think you have the perfect frame, shoot it again at a different exposure or wider angle. If you were off on the exposure or composition in what you thought was the perfect frame, the extra images allow you some latitude to recover from your unknown mistake. Don't delete the "bad" frames until you get home and look at them on a larger screen. You might be surprised by how some of them are actually keepers. The poor images can be a useful tool in learning how to become a better photographer. Ask yourself " what is wrong with this image and how could it have been better ". This can often generate new and, more creative ideas as to what to do next time. Saying to yourself "well that sucks!" and deleting it doesn't do any good and, just makes for a bad day of editing through images. Remember, you are doing this because you like to do it, not to piss yourself off so much you don't pick up the camera again until next year Here's the thing, you are shooting digital images, you already own the camera and memory cards, shooting extra frames won't cost you anything other than time. Buy another memory card if you are worried about space, they are cheap and last practically forever. It's not like in the days of film cameras, when every click of the shutter cost you money in terms of film and processing costs. Think about this, one memory doesn't cost much more than a roll of film and processing, but it can hold 100 X (or more) as many images and, can be used over and over again. So, I don't know why someone would only take three pictures of Eiffel Tower and just walk away. I took 20 X more photos than that of my newly found spiked beast of a friend. Shoot what you love and enjoy doing it ! Photography, like any creative process, engages heart and mind while enriching the soul. Through these creative journeys, fantastic reflections of life emerge, when shared, the world benefits from their reveal of the beauty that surrounds us all.

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