Australian Thorny Devil


“As a boy, I used to read about the iconic Australian Thorny Devil in books and dream of seeing them in the wild one day. When I relocated from Queensland to Western Australia in 2016, I couldn’t wait to explore Western Australia and search for all the reptiles I didn’t have access to on the East Coast. Needless to say, the thorny devil was at the top of my list. At the beginning of 2017 I began planning a six-week road trip from Perth to Darwin for March and April. Over the course of the trip I covered 16,000km and photographed around 60 reptile species. I was ecstatic to start the trip with this thorny devil.
Thorny devils are very tolerant of high outback temperatures and they are capable of basking in the sun during the hottest parts of the day. With this in mind, I was keeping a keen eye on the road as the day warmed up. At 2pm I was roughly 600km north of Perth and the temperature was hovering around 35°C. I whizzed passed a thorny devil basking in the middle of the road and performed one of the quickest U-turns of my life. I safely removed it from the busy highway and took a series of photos.
Beginning with a wide-angle lens, I was having trouble photographing the thorny in direct sunlight. The sun was causing harsh shadows and I was losing some of the detail of the lizard. Rather than persist in this manner, I switched to my macro lens. I also wanted to capture elements of the sun, and achieved this by orienting my shot so the sun’s rays highlighted the margins of the thorny’s spines. With the sun now behind the lizard I utilised an external flash to fill in the side of the lizard that was now in shadow. The result was a nicely lit portrait with the background blurred enough to ensure the viewer’s focus remains on the thorny.
The tilt of the head, together with the downward curvature of the mouth and squint of the eye gives the impression that the lizard is quite suspicious of me. Whether real or imagined, the expression makes you wonder what’s going on in the mind of the animal during such an encounter.” – Ross McGibbon

This month’s photo was captured by Ross McGibbon – thank you for sharing your work with us!  To connect with Ross and see more of his work, please go to Ross McGibbon Reptile Photography.  You may also find him on YouTube, Facebook and Instagram.