Day-Glow Gecko


A Gold-Dust Day Gecko, native to northern Madagascar but widespread in Hawaii, clings to the side of a food truck on Oahu.


As I was waiting for my order at a parking lot food truck at the Polynesian Cultural Center in Laie on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, I noticed this gecko clinging to the side of the truck by the shelf below the pick-up window. The gecko alone was pretty neat, but against the bold colors of the truck made for a striking little scene. Given that this was in the middle of a large parking lot, I do not know how it got there, but assume that it makes a decent living as pest control for the food truck. It can also retreat to areas where it is better camouflaged:

A Gold-Dust Day Gecko, native to northern Madagascar but widespread in Hawaii, tries to hide on the side of a food truck in Laie, Oahu.

This is a situation where the iPhone 11 Pro really shined. First of all because it was in my shirt pocket and I could take the pictures quickly. My previous phone was six generations before the iPhone 11 Pro, so I can’t speak to how much better it is over its immediate predecessor, but I love being able to easily switch between the three lenses and find that the 2X lens (52mm equivalent) focuses very close and is great for things like this because there is so much depth of field (This photo was even taken at f/1.8!). In my mind, this is the case (and just about the only case) where the tiny sensor has a real advantage over a dedicated camera: even if I had my full-frame Nikon Z7 in my hand with the right lens mounted (say my Nikon AF-S 60mm f/2.8 Micro that was back in my closet in Arizona) it would not have had the depth of field to get much more than the eyes in focus. The only hope would have been to take a straight-on shot, but I like this slightly off-axis view better. While not an action shot by any means, the gecko did move every few seconds, so something like focus stacking (hand-held!?) or breaking out the 85mm PC-E Micro to do some tilt magic was would take too long, anyway. This was a perfect grab-shot.


I am hard-pressed to recall one of my photographs having bolder colors than this. The gecko, in addition to just being very interesting to look at, contrasts in so many ways with the rest of the scene. Obviously its bold green skin stands out against the (complementary-colored!) magenta paint. But it also has a nice curved shape which contrasts with all of the straight lines. The gecko also sits at the junction of two leading lines: the horizontal pink/blue boundary and the diagonal edge of the steel shelf. It is also nice that the gecko sits across the diagonal band of glossy highlights. The big turquoise rivet is lined up with its eyes, each surrounded by a thin matching ring of similar blue. Also, the dark pink markings on its face and body match the wall behind it.

I also like the way that the weathered gray steel shelf reflects the blue on the top and the pink on the side: it took me a while of looking at the picture to realize that the shelf was actually gray. The little bits of rust make for a nice, if subtle, contrast in texture from the reflective sheen of the wall.

And, of course, gecko toes are fascinating.


Straight out of camera (phone), other than boosting the exposure by 1/4 stop. Not much else to say.

Technical Data

Apple iPhone 11 Pro back triple camera, 4.25mm (52mm equivalent) f/1.8 lens at 1/158 sec, f/1.8, ISO 32.

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