Behind The Shot: “The Lizard” by Brian Klimowski – Coyote Buttes, Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, Arizona

photograph of a color changing lizard taken against The Wave sandstone formation on the slope of the Coyote Buttes in the Paria Canyon Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Arizona Utah border

The Lizard by Brian Klimowski

The Coyote Buttes is perhaps the most well-known part of the 280,000-acre Vermilion Cliffs National Monument, on the border of Arizona and Utah. Most photographers are familiar with the unique sandstone landforms and beauty of the area and it continues to be one of the most popular destinations in the Southwest. As my photography tends toward the simple and abstract, the location is ideal for my artistic expression. This image was created back in 2004 – on my 2nd visit to the “The Wave” (a striated sandstone formation along the slopes of the Coyote Buttes). I arrived at sunrise and spent much of the day shooting sandstone bedding in a variety of light to explore tonal patterns.

I was working one particular sandstone wall when I noticed this cold-blooded interloper just down from me. He (she?) was moving quickly, pausing occasionally on his stuttering passage along the wall. With each stop this little lizard became a part of the static sandstone landscape – his last stop was along the sun-lit gradient of the wall where he paused for the last time, and was gone. I snapped this shot during that fleeting moment.

With no time to use a tripod, this was shot handheld and relatively wide. Sometimes just being at the right place at the right time is the key to an image – and that definitely was the case here. With the visual space available around the lizard, a number of different cropping options are available - I’ve typically gone with the tighter crop shown here as my preferred print. However, it also works well as an off-centered horizontal image, with the lizard on the left.

Chasing the lizard for a few minutes didn’t net me any other interesting images, and it was the last living thing I saw that day with the exception of the 17 other people lined for sunset at the ‘2nd Wave’ – but that’s a story for another time… (Brian Klimowski is a professional meteorologist, Dad, Arizona enthusiast and photographer who loves wild places and stormy skies.) - Brian Klimowski

This image is available as a print by emailing Klimowski here. See more of Klimowski's work at his website, www.ilp-photography.com. Follow him on PBase.

Equipment and settings: Canon EOS 10D, Canon EF 17-40mm f/4L USM ultra-wide zoom lens @ 40mm - 1/90th @ f/5.6 - ISO 200

horizontal photograph of a color changing lizard taken against The Wave sandstone formation on the slope of the Coyote Buttes in the Paria Canyon Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness Arizona Utah border

The Lizard by Brian Klimowski - original crop

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