It is with great pleasure that I can finally announce that my image "Resting Dragon" is included in this years Lumix People Choice Awards as part of the Natural History Museum's Wildlife Photographer of the Year for 2020. Out of nearly 50,000 entries entered into this prestigious competition, there are only 25 images selected to be part of the peoples choice award.
This image "Resting Dragon" is not my only image in this years NHM WPY, I have another image "Peeking Possums" which has been awarded highly commended in the urban wildlife category. I am honoured and proud to have had two images selected to be part of this prestigious competition in the same year.
I thought I would tell the story as to how this image came about so everyone interested in the image can be sure that it was captured ethically and without any manipulation. I must say it is exciting that a highly regarded competition such as Wildlife Photographer of the Year has accepted an image like this into its exhibition for 2020. Many people may question how such an interesting image came about.
Firstly, it is interesting to know that this image was captured on a gold mine in a remote area of the Great Sandy Desert in Western Australia. I have worked on this mine site on and off for nearly fifteen years and I have always kept great respect for any wildlife found out there and have never touched or handled a single animal in my pursuit to document the wildlife that inhabits that area of Australia.
As part of my job, I work many shifts through the night at this gold mine, and as such, I find a lot of insects, reptiles and animals during my shifts that display different behaviour once the sun goes down. There are quite a few different species of lizard that inhabit the deserts of Australia, and the long-nosed dragon is one who many people know of. This particular dragon is sometimes known as the "ta ta" lizard. During summer, the ground in the arid areas of Australia becomes brutally hot, and therefore this particular lizard lifts its legs diagonally to minimise the amount of time its feet spend on the hot sand or rock. With one front foot off the ground at a time, it looks as if these lizards are waving at you saying goodbye, or in Australia, we often say "ta ta".
On this particular night, I noticed that there were quite a few insects attracted to the light that had been left on within a shed that had been fenced off with mesh. I was so surprised to find this long-nosed dragon had positioned itself in such an interesting manner on the wire mesh. Another interesting thing about this little lizard was the obvious kink in its tail which was probably the result of a narrow escape from a bird or bigger lizard. I knew that this was a sight that had to be captured, and so hastily went and gathered my photography equipment.
As I said earlier, I had no intention of touching or disturbing the lizard. I just wanted to capture what I saw as best I could. I used a 400mm lens at first and then changed to a wide-angle lens with an off-camera, low powered flash to capture the images I had in mind. I minimised my time spent with the lizard to less than fifteen minutes and then left the lizard to sleep where it was.
I am constantly fascinated by how some wildlife takes advantage of human-modified environments. It was quite obvious that this lizard had positioned itself in a location where at sunrise, it would be able to pick off any insects that had settled on the wire during the night. I re-visited the same location every night for the next week hoping the lizard, who I affectionately named "larry the long-nosed dragon" would return, unfortunately, I never happen to see it again. I guess it's a good lesson to always carry your photographic gear wherever you go!