WPY 2012

Photograph Details

Winner 2012

Animal Portraits

Larry Lynch, USA

Warning night light

One evening, while walking along the riverbed of the Myakka River State Park in Sarasota, Florida, USA, one evening, Larry came across a group of alligators. It was the dry season, and they had been gorging on fish trapped in the pools left behind as the water receded from the river. One big alligator had clearly eaten its fill. ‘It wasn’t going anywhere in a hurry,’ says Larry. ‘So I set my tripod and camera up about seven metres in front of him and focused on his eyes.’ Just after sunset, Larry set his flash on the lowest setting to give just a tiny bit of light, enough to catch the eyeshine in the alligator’s eyes. Like cats, an alligator has a tapetum lucidum at the back of each eye – a structure that reflects light back into the photoreceptor cells to make the most of low light. The colour of eyeshine differs from species to species. In alligators, it glows red – one good way to locate alligators on a dark night. The greater the distance between its eyes, the longer the reptile, in this case, very long.

Technical specification

Nikon D2X + 80-400mm f4.5-5.6 lens; 8 sec at f8; ISO 200; SB-800 flash; Gitzo 3125 tripod; Manfrotto 468RC2 Ball Head.


Myakka River State Park, Florida, USA: latitude 27.241196, longitude -82.31533 Myakka River State Park, Florida, USA: latitude 27.241196, longitude -82.31533

Myakka River State Park, Florida, USA

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Larry Lynch, USA