Years of effort culminate in Gecko photo exhibition

Southland-based photographer Phil Melgren with his Image "Old Blue Eyes'", a Tautuku gecko Melgren photographed in the ...
John Hawkins/ Fairfax NZ

Southland-based photographer Phil Melgren with his Image "Old Blue Eyes'", a Tautuku gecko Melgren photographed in the Catlins.

For 10 years Southland-based photographer Phil Melgren has scoured remote areas throughout the country in an effort to capture our most elusive native geckos and skinks.

His exhibition Captured in cold blood features 22 prints at the City Gallery in Invercargill.

Melgren said the work took him the best part of 10 years, travelling as far north as Whangarei and South to remote parts of Stewart Island.

The exhibition was an opportunity for people to images of the animals people would not usually see in the wild, Melgren said.

Melgren has had an obsession with native geckos and skinks since he was a young boy.

"I can't tell you why, I just have."

He has spent hours looking for geckos and skinks without spotting a single one and then on some trips he will spot several.

They often lived in isolated spots where they were difficult to locate, Melgren said.

The isolation was also one of the main things protecting these small reptiles, he said.

Even after finding the reptiles the process of photographing them is still difficult as they were inclined to run away.

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Melgren recalled a trip to a remote part of Stewart Island where he was trying to photograph a heavily pregnant and angry harlequin gecko.

As he was taking photos he notice something brush past him and when he looked he saw a kiwi walk by.

"It doesn't get much better than that."

Melgren made the unusual decision when printing his photos to put them on canvas, a much more expensive option, he said.

The texture of the canvas lends itself to scales the geckos and skinks creating a much more striking image, Melgren said.

"It makes them pop more."

Some of the images on display have earned Melgren several accolades in photography competitions regionally and nationally and have been featured in publications.

In 2015 Melgren won a gold medal and the Geoff Moon Nature Trophy Photographic Society of New Zealand from for his image of a starred gecko in the Nelson area.

The exhibition is on display at City Gallery and runs until February 25.


 - Stuff

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