[Editor’s Note: the person who took this photograph is Steven De Decker; see comments after the first paragraph for corrected information]
As one of the seven or eight folks who judged the photos in this year’s AA photo contest I want to give some recognition to an image that didn’t even make the list of finalists determined by popular vote. My judge’s choice award winner is a striking photograph of a juvenile of the Cuban endemic Anolis bartschi that was taken by Joe Burgess at Cueva del Indio, Vinales, Cuba. Although observed most frequently on rocks in karstic regions, individuals like this one are also commonly seen on trunks and other broad perches emerging from the karst beneath. The quality and clarity of this image are superb. The subtle colors along the animals spine and the steely blue of the eye and surrounding region are beautiful under natural light (perhaps complemented with a tactfully subtle fill flash?). A catch-light in the black eye gives the lizard some personality, and makes me wonder what it might be thinking. The right front forelimb is lifted off the trunk and possibility somewhat blurred by motion, impressing me with the animals agility and suggesting that its ready to make a move. This photo that makes me want to get out and find some anoles.
[Note from Jonathan Losos: I screwed up! There were two photos of A. bartschi entered into the photo contest, and when Rich asked for information on the A. bartschi photo, I gave him the info for the wrong one. The photo above was taken by Steven De Decker (who also took the grand prize winning photograph of A. allisoni). Steven had this to say about the photograph of the juvenile: “It was in the proximity of the prehistoric wall at Vinales, Pinar Del Rio. We were there with 2 local biologists who told us A. bartschi was pretty common to be found at the wall 10 years ago. Great was our disappointment when we saw that [the curly tailed lizard] Leiocephalus carinatus had taken over habitat near the wall. When we went back we decided to investigate some semi caves at the border of the park, and that’s where we found A. bartschi sitting on a trunk near the caves. And to answer your question, no I didn’t use a flash for this particular photo. Using the flash here would have given me a black background.
Meanwhile, below I’ve pasted the photo of A. bartschi by Joe Burgess (whose photo of an A. gorgonae took second place in the contest); this is the photo for which Rich gave info in his post above.