Leaf chameleon (Brookesia tristis), Parc National Montagne D'Ambre (Amber Mountains National Park), Antsiranana (Diego-Suarez), Madagascar

Walking with a guide through the Amber Mountains National Park, I was primarily looking out for larger fauna like lemurs, but all of a sudden my guide swooped down onto a pile of leaves, and produced this really small chameleon. Only a couple of centimetres long, part of me suspected that he had it secreted in a matchbox, ready to produce it on demand!

I tend to always carry a Nikon 60mm Micro lens with me when I travel. This allows me to shoot close-up images. It is relatively compact and allows me to shoot genuine Macro images - these are officially defined as a life-sized reproduction of the subject on the camera sensor. This allowed me to get in really close, producing this extreme macro view. Remember this chameleon was only about 25mm long.

In the early days of digital photography, my highest ISO was somewhat limited, and as I was shooting with natural light, I was limited to an aperture of f5.6. This gave a depth of field of only a few millimetres. By shooting from the side, I was able to ensure that as much of the chameleon as possible was within this narrow band of focus. If I had a ringflash with me, or was able to use a higher ISO and a commensurately smaller aperture I would have been able to have a greater depth of field, but careful composition has allowed me to keep all of the main parts of the creature sharp.

One of the main lessons I take from this picture, is the need to clear my backlog of image process and captioning: I photographed this in 2006. When I started to research what species it was recently to submit it to a photo-library, I realised that it was probably a Brookesia tristis. This is a rare species, endemic to the Amber Mountains, which was only officially discovered in 2012. This was six years after I took this photograph. If I had only realised this earlier, who knows what this species might have been called!

Nikon D2x @ ISO 400
Nikon 60mm Micro lens (90mm equivalent)
seconds @ f 5.6

Words and image Steve Davey/ 2014

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The Story Behind the Picture...

Website, Images and text Steve Davey/ 1990 - 2021

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Story Behind the Picture

01 - Marrakech Snakes

02 - Hanoi Moto Taxi

03 - Carnaval de Binche

04 - Petra Star trails

05 - Laos Alms Round

06 - Madagascar Chameleon

07 - Delhi Spice Market

08 - Lalibela Rainbow

09 - Burning Barrels

10 Sugarloaf Mountain

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