As a wildlife photographer, I’m always looking for interesting and challenging subjects to photograph. Recently, I set my sights on the juvenile Five-lined Skink, a small lizard found in the Ouachita National Forest area of Arkansas. These little lizards are common, but photographing them takes patience and skill.

Juvenile Five-lined Skink

Juvenile Five-lined Skink

The juvenile Five-lined Skink is identifiable by its bright blue tail, which contrasts sharply with its brownish-gray body. This bright tail likely serves as a defense mechanism – the skink can detach it to distract predators while it escapes. However, this flash of blue also makes the skink easy to spot. Still, getting close enough for a good photo is difficult, as the skinks will dart away quickly at any sign of people.

To photograph these elusive creatures, I used a Fujifilm X-T3 camera with a Canon EF 100-400mm lens attached with a Fringer adapter. This gave me the flexibility and range I needed to zoom in on the skinks without scaring them away. I set the camera to aperture priority mode, with the settings dialed in to capture the fast-moving skinks:

  • Aperture: f/8
  • ISO: 1600
  • Shutter speed: 1/850 sec
  • Exposure value: +0.03
  • Focal length: 400mm

With these settings, I was able to freeze the motion of the skink and get crisp, clear shots. Patience was critical, as I needed to stay quiet and still, waiting for the skinks to emerge from hiding. The bright sun in the forest also posed challenges, creating harsh shadows and glare in some shots.

After many hours tracking these secretive juveniles, I finally captured the shot I wanted. The image showcase the skink’s blue tail and small size, framed by the lush forest environment. Photographing quick-moving creatures like the Five-lined Skink tests technical skills and creative determination. But the reward is pictures of Arkansas’s beautiful wildlife in their natural habitat.

Steve Creek, Wildlife Photographer

Here is another Juvenile Five-lined Skink I photographed: Juvenile Five-lined Skink On Log