The Mediterranean House Gecko is a non native species that as been introduced in the Phoenix metro area and other parts of Arizona. They are found close to human habitation in the hotter months of the year, usually around lights at night.
We’ve had them at our house in Phoenix for many years where they can be seen occasionally near the front entrance, but usually at higher spots or in darker areas than I can easily deal with photographically. This gecko was a nice exception last night (5/12/13) just outside the front door and visible just above eye level near the outside lamp.
I decided to try for a usable photo even though it involved a lot of compromises I usually manage to avoid. My first decision was to take the shot from inside through the window glass rather than risk spooking the gecko by going out the front door. I mounted my old 105/2.8 macro lens o a D300 body – a compromise on focal length because the 200mm macro that would have been better is only an f/4 lens. With the 105 set wide open I still needed to crank the ISO up to 1600 to get a marginal shutter speed of 1/100th second. This was just fast enough to allow me to hand hold the lens (I much prefer to work from a steady tripod).
To get the proper angle I needed to shoot through the glass at about a 45 degree angle – much worse than shooting directly through the glass perpendicular to the flat surface.
The light was bright enough, but it came from a CFL bulb shining through glass with a strong yellow color, so the raw images looked like they were bright lemon yellow.
Finally, I had to make a significant crop – this is only 17% of the full frame. The 200mm lens would have permitted using 68% of the frame – a substantial improvement.
I’ve got to say that I am quite pleased with the results given all those compromises! The subject is sharp and properly exposed. I was able to correct the color in raw conversion by neutralizing the yellow out of the stucco, allowing the true color of the gecko to be revealed.
According to A Field Guide to Amphibians and Reptiles n Arizona by Thomas C. Brennan and Andrew T. Holycross, this is
A small (to 60 mm or 2.4″) peach or light pinkish tan lizard with dark reticulations, spots, or crossbars and translucent skin. The pupils are vertical. Whitish tubercles on the back, prominent toe pads, and lidless eyes distinguish it from Western Banded Gecko.
I don’t know why this individual doesn’t have the dark spots shown in the field guide.
If it shows up in the same spot again I’ll set up the 200mm lens and a good tripod and try to find an angle that avoids the junk my wife has hanging in the window. And if it stays put I’ll also try to get outside for an even better shot.