Portrait photography – the first rule – focus on the eyes. From the start, when I did film photography, it was always focus (manually) on the eyes. Nothing else is as important. Cats feel threatened when you point a big lens at them. It’s like a big eye. The cat does not like it. Mine, they are resigned. I have pointed so often that the lens is familiar. It’s still not easy. The skill is in putting the lens in front of their eye so it looks as though they are looking at you. Ha! And, salt on the tail, will catch a bird! It ain’t easy. But then again, if it were, all my pictures would be perfect. Right?
I had a dream. Anne, a girl, an old friend, one from the third grade, was in it. I hugged her. I have been wondering about Anne since the eighth grade, when I last saw her. Oh, the guilt, to hug an old girl, friend. I’m married. Happily, again, now! Carol laughed. Ginny – isn’t this the reason you go to confession? Impure thoughts? Colleen, shrugged. She knows I’m hers. (she got my signature, what there is of it, on the “certificate.”)
Trapped? (in the basket, see Willow, the cat) Nah! Nope!
Cats? I should learn, take a lesson, be more like them…
Flowers? Every day, I bring … I think that I am so lucky to be in this place at this time…. Ginny laughs at my openness. There is truth – Colleen and I are having fun. It’s not hard to see at all.
I dreamt about posting/blogging. Yeah, weird. I never did that before. The old question arises. Am I shooting for the blog? Or, are my shots “worthy” photos? Technically correct, many of my images are good. But, worthy? Goofy! Goofy? My garden – I discovered a tick (looking at the flower picture) after the shoot. Ha! I thought it was a spider. Wrong! And, long gone, there is no finding that tick. Now, I have to worry about my cats. Bee? Almost, but no cigar. The focus missed by just that much. Alas. Focus!? Ah, an antique store with old cameras. Wonderful, but, they are film. Collector’s item? No, more like they are dust collectors. Covid is pretty much done. There are no rules any longer. We are half masked, or, not. Brain coral celosia? Close, but not quite, I am still working on focus and lighting. Poor Peas, the calico kitten, has her own problems. She’s cute. The older Maine coon cats are jealous? They keep jumping her! I mean pouncing, hissing, loud, mean, ambush type altercations. So, ticks, are a problem but not foremost among what I think about.
But what have you done for me today? Time moves forward. The moment passes and you can never go back. You can look back. Smile or regret, it’s up to you. Shhh… I like kittens. But, they grow up. We all age. But, I love you more, because of it. It’s in the “knowing” not the image.
Gestalt theory emphasizes that the whole of anything is greater than its parts. That is, the attributes of the whole are not deducible from analysis of the parts in isolation. The word Gestalt is used in modern German to mean the way a thing has been “placed,” or “put together.” There is no exact equivalent in English.
And, there is no equivalent way to pick one photo over another. It’s an unknowable feeling that comes as you edit. “That’s it” the one! I have to say that I am most fortunate to be able to say that I had a choice and that I have choices. Yup, I gotta a lot of beauty around me these days.
Cats? Family? Memory? Fine photography? The original mission was to post nice photos and give a back-story comment on the image. I stray, being a diary, commenting with humor, and posting pet pictures. They are good photos. Lately, they are current; I have so many old pictures to share, not enough time. The feedback via likes and comments is meager. Do I care? I appreciate feedback; but it doesn’t matter so much as the fact that I have an outlet for thought and deed (image). It’s been a work that will linger on the internet for a while. Am I striving for immortality? Hardly! Do I shoot for myself?… or to blog? Sometimes, it’s a bit of both. Clearly? Nope, the mission is blurred by the fact that I make the rules and I never met a rule I didn’t try to break. No matter what, it’s always about an image that inspires me. I was never serious. I am? Humor will always creep in along the edges. Fun? You bet!
As Frank Sinatra sang, “Regrets, I have a few….” The last time I made a major camera purchase was in 2014. We went to the mecca of camera stores (B&H) and I got a brand new spiffy Nikon D610. A month later the D700 followed by the D750 came out. (About the same price, better features!) Bad timing. Of course, no one tells you in advance so they can dump old inventory at max price. This time around I got a Nikon Macro 105mm lens to go with the Nikon Z5. This stuff ain’t cheap! And! Déjà vu! A month later, the new Z mount macro lens was announced. You don’t care. You didn’t get gypped again! I could buy/sell/trade my way to the new model lens. Nah! The old lens is fine; it’s just more weight (older lens). And, I have already gotten my money’s worth of macro photography even before the new lens has been released for sale. But(t), as with many things in life, timing is everything. My (timing) was perfect again. Then again, gear is not the definition of a photographer; anyone who buys great gear is not guaranteed success. Good tools make things go better. This mix of photos is with different cameras and lenses – right tool in the right moment, or, the tool at hand in the moment. The humming bird was fortuitous (lucky!!): I was holding the 105mm macro. This lens worked at the critical moment.
Macro? you ask? This one wuzza puzzler. Two bees humping? I thought they worked with a queen. No humpin’ allowed. It’s not an expected behavior?! This was right tool (lens) in the moment.
My cats interact. I did not ask them about the next cats that came to us- whether they approved or not. When I ran a medical practice, my way was to let the people under me hire their colleagues. It meant there was always compatibility. My cats? War! The Maine coon cats are large and intimidating to the new kittens. Tillie has an attitude. She walks around growling randomly, no questions asked. Everyone gives her wide berth. Peas is just a sweet kitten. She has been stomped on more than one occasion. She’s a victim. Nutley is her protector. Elle now is a secondary target. Interaction? It’s complicated. Everyone is on edge. I got a serious family feud around hereabouts.
I split the discussion and did not show you gear in yesterday’s post. Waiting is good. Most gear I get is purchased after agonizing over the need and justifying the expense. Leica is Rolls Royce but I do not justify its expense. The “bang” for your $$$$ buck is too low in my opinion. The Canon G7X is my dive camera. It worked so well at the time and still would serve just fine. I am invested in its underwater housing and a strobe. The Sony RX100 VI is a compact camera with more than adequate telephoto reach. It is as good at getting a tele image as my Nikon 80-400mm zoom. Crazy! But to my eye, the image is adequate and way offsets carrying around a big heavy lens when traveling all day. The Canon EOS M6 II was my first mirrorless camera and made an instant leap to my carry-around camera. Covid canceled our trip to Scotland. And, a year later I got the Nikon Z5 full frame mirrorless camera. Full frame is the operative phrase, The camera is larger, therefore, heavier. If you don’t “get” (understand) it (heavy), the Z5 is not for you. Currently, the Z5 is my “go to” except where size matters and I wish to be unobtrusive. And. NO! Colleen will not be going anywhere for the “duration (of our forever marriage).” I am only allowed to have more cameras. … no more cats either. Tech? Gear? No, it’s the image!
So much gear… gearhead? So little time… need all that gear? Does/did it make you better? … do we need another spinning wheel? Sure! Aesthetic? Ah! Hedonistic! The antonym is eudaimonistic. And, we have never heard of that term. So…. go for it! Though, I tend toward introvert, I have never been accused of being a monk.
I’m a better photographer than Colleen. My skill has been honed to pay attention to detail. It’s knowledge, experience, and better equipment (cameras). Colleen can weave and spin. I am a mere amateur compared to her skill. Ask me to weave anything and I would be at a complete loss. She was looking for old family shots (another story). To protect the innocent, these are old shots of family pets. They are treasured memories to her. Period. Wistfully, I wish they were better and did the beloved pet more justice. By comparison, out of hand, I know the essentials and had the tool to get (better) portraits of our cats, by the hundreds, so far. Sorry, I am truly sorry, I was not there to preserve Colleen’s dear memories. My regret lacks the words to convey the feeling. Precious photos are not always good photos. They are the anchors that crystalize happy memories and the names of beloved pets now departed.
There is a term Colleen uses: “Weaver kitty.” It refers to the training of a cat to refrain from tearing her spinning and weaving to pieces. The natural inclination of a cat or kitten, is to play with the yarn. The moving ends are too tempting. A cat’s gotta learn. When they do (learn), everyone’s happy. So far so good….
Willow never looks at me. The “twins” will/do. But, Willow, he’s a different cat. He never looks at me. We communicate. He gets what he wants. I know what he wants. We just never quite make eye contact. It’s subtle enough to have eluded me for so long. I realize now. Knowing is helpful. It’s like hugging without kissing. There is just something different. And, it’s different, (looking elsewhere). If you don’t know what I mean, then you don’t know. But, I get it, now.
Yeah, yeah, seven pictures. But the last picture (Nutley) illustrates emotion. Colleen swears the cats can “express.” Nutley just got “wopped” by Spice. He has the look of “what?” He (Nutley) is bewildered and subservient to her (Spice’s) aggression. Can you see that? Six cats. I roam the house and shoot the cats. Ha! It’s not “hunting.” But periodically the cats settle into their morning routine. At that point I can get a shot. Cute!
Real life and a puzzle got juxtaposed as a edited this morning. There’s a cat sitting in the puzzle and there’s another sitting on our table. Amusing. The puzzle did not have a picture of the finished puzzle. And so, we were not certain there was a cat until it showed up, in the puzzle.
I often wonder what thoughts go around in my cats’ heads. If a picture is a thousand words, then there is plenty to say. Otherwise, they are content to sleep as much as sixteen hours a day. At that rate, I am fortunate to get pictures when they are awake.
It was just a joke in the beginning. Back in 2015, I did a Photoshop mash-up of our three cats. Crude, would be too kind a criticism. But then again, it was an “in your face” mash-up. The sisters arrived in January, 2017 and the twins came in July, 2018. Sometime in July 2018 we did a family portrait. And, in December, 2019 we followed up once more – a picture, not more cats.
In November, 2020 we did two takes on the same day. The ladies at CVS were amazed when (with a straight face) I told them that all my seven cats just lined up on the table upon my command to do this group shot.
Confused? It feels like a history test on which general won what battle on which date? Yeah! I went back to find dates. My vaunted file system failed until it was successful in tracking down the photo shoots and their dates. There was no group shot in 2016 or 2017. I don’t suppose you care too much for the dates or my search of a catalog holding hundreds of thousands of images. Our family continues to expand and contract. I will be more diligent of keeping track of family groupings. But, as of this post we are up to date. Alas, Patch passed away in February. That will change my next shot.
Make no mistake, you don’t simply go out and replace a pet. Patch’s recent death has left a hole in our hearts. And, you may continue to shake your head and think we are nuts. Somehow the chaos of cats all about is an acquired taste. And, I didn’t do it correctly – see – two new kittens, not one, Tillie & Peas (in 2021). Patch fly with the snow geese; we miss you.
I was keeping to posting one picture a day. Now, I cheat. I can get around my own rule by making a collage layout. Hey! I have too many images and so little time! The bird feeder is shared by one and all. The birds, a few, eat. The cats have Cat TV. The squirrels disrupt the whole show. (Hey! Squirrels gotta eat too.) My cat Nutley has now been trained (by me!) to go chase the squirrel and then return to the home so I don’t have to get cold on the deck. Ha! (I have to chase Nutley inside, instead.) And, the bonus, I get to take pictures of the proceedings. Colleen has to cajole me daily to go feed the birds. Who knew this could be so much work (fun?)?
As they said in the movie “Jaws,” We’re gonna need a bigger (boat) table.” Ha ha. After Patch passed away in February, it just wasn’t quite as chaotic as we are used to at feeding time. We held tryouts. It wasn’t that hard. Cat’s just gotta snuggle in your arms and dig her claws in – she’s going home with you! Tillie (black cat) is on double secret probation – ala “Animal House.” She snarled and growled at me. Me? Have you ever played, ‘spin the cat?’ Ha ha. I think Tillie has an opinion. Meanwhile, Dave said, “No more cats!” What can I say? Tillie and Peas are sisters – from different mothers? And, the pet store ladies laugh when they see me come in. They even asked if I wanted another, “Please?” when we came in today for more food. Colleen does higher math: that would be 3 1/2 sets of twins and a single (Elle).
Some days I wander around camera in hand and shoot the cats. After breakfast they settle into familiar spots. The trick is to get them to look at you. The way to go (secret) is to point the camera lens into their eyes. Amazingly, they are looking at you. Voila! Easy! My problem is that the twins are look-alike. So, when I download the images, it’s a mean feat to distinguish which cat is which. ?? Well, I judge from where they are in the picture. Each cat has a favorite perch. Mostly. Otherwise, since I can’t tell, you don’t have a chance. So, I am showing two pair of twins. Care to dispute my claim?
I’m getting a lot of mileage out of these images. But, I gotta acknowledge certain things – like remember our/my anniversary. Yup, two years, we’ve been together six going on seven (years). Happily married – an oxymoron? Not this time around! Come to think of it (truly), we have five kids and six grand kids between us. So seven cats is a natural follow up to the sequence. “On my way to St. Ives, I saw a man with seven wives…”
Story or illustration? The bottom two pics are to melt your heart – if you are a cat lover (or not). The rest illustrate the story. One good image would do. But I’m lazy and didn’t try to narrow it down. A new box is always certain “cat” entertainment. Everyone (cat) has a go. Climb in and claim your spot. There is no pecking order. First in…. Ok there is an occasional territorial dispute. In a pinch, a bag will do as a cat container. And the wrapping tissue, this was a whole new experience. The paper was a hit. They tossed it around all day … till it was shredded. Yes, a box, send more boxes!
I don’t know who is happier when Amazon delivers. I get the contents I needed. The cats have a new home/play thing. They nest, rest, wrestle and make it their home. Heaven forbid that I should recycle any box before its time. Cute?! The boxes get in the way till I remove them. Not a word is said. The cats are stoic – and then another package arrives.
Colleen made me a BLT for breakfast. Yeah, yeah, don’t laugh. And don’t tell me bacon is bad for you. I know this. And my cats consider themselves 10%ers. That is to say whatever I eat… they are entitled to 10%. It’s an immutable rule. Don’t blink or they will lick your food. Yuck, ugh, ewwww! I fight them for my spot at the table. Don’t be late!
…were harmed in the making of these photos? The process? You see a good shot, you have to have a caption/punchline to go with it. A worthy photo? It must be standout beautiful or have a goofy story…. Cats develop crazy habit, hence, the name Nutley. Yup, that’s him, Buddha pose. Ray likes to sleep underfoot. ??? dunno. I will frequently bump him when I don’t realize he’s under my foot. Sorry. He likes to be close… or he likes the smell of feet… with or without socks.
If you have more than one cat… well, it’s feeding time. The cats have trained me. They try all manner of coaxing to get me to come to the kitchen. Mostly, they know when it’s time to eat. As soon as I get to the kitchen they gather and jockey for position as though I might ever forget one. Heaven forbid! The can is not open yet but once open, Willow licks the sauce off the lid. The twins eat in the bedroom lest they cruise everyone else’s dish. All the cats have their spot to eat. Nutley is always done first and opens the bedroom door putting his paw beneath the door and prying it open. He then nudges the nearest cat out of the way to finish up their dish. I must have been late this morning. They were all over the closed can. Feed me!!