I’m shy. Herding groups, directing groups, is not my specialty. (See: cats.) Everyone is good humored and used to my cajoling albeit some reluctantly. Nonetheless everyone understands the importance of documenting family. (cats excepted) I am indeed fortunate to be able to gather loved ones and get a shot – or two. The carrot is that I post them so they are shared and preserved for all. Yeah, it’s hard to herd cats.
I casually offered. They accepted. You learn new things every day. How about the cat tower? Hmmm… I had not thought about that nor had ever tried it. Cooperation? Hardly?!! Mike and Jen thought (innocently) they could hold all four cats for a single take. A single picture? They have seen Colleen’s pics. We did it with seven cats across the table. Easy! About 101 pictures later… They had great ideas and we improvised as we went along. Nut crackers, cat tower, oh my! Done! I’d do it again… no cats were harmed… a few scratches later…
It is a rare day that goes by without me taking pictures. Subject? Ah! Cats and flowers… they are available and do not object too much. Seven cats – only a few are cooperative. The rest avoid me.
Take a picture just to take a picture? Umm, I consider it a challenge. Get a technically sound image with some wrinkle in detail – water – that is a bit out of the ordinary.
Busy time activity? Boredom? Warding away the doldrums of retirement? Ha! Colleen fills her time with reading. For me, there are only so many times I can hit the refresh button on the NY Times.
It’s a hobby fer cris sakes! It’s pretty simple. I shoot what is around me. Family, birds, flowers, cats…. Easy. Edit. Choose. Blog and then post. You have no doubt guessed that I have/had a lot of cameras. I do not much collect old ones. I have lost cameras in various ways. I managed to “fry” on underwater even. Note: salt water is bad for camera electronics. There are even some times when Colleen uses my camera.
Subject? The only caveat to note is that I have cameras in multiple rooms and drive with one in the pocket or on the dashboard. And, still we miss opportunities now and again.
Look up – search – “copy” on the hard drive. Hmmm. Hole in the head, not hole in the wall…. It seems that we shot a lot of group shots of our cats. Brilliant?! The years are different but seem to be annual more recently. I get the idea to do it again in November. It works. I guess I shall do it again and again. Meanwhile, the shots are ever more precious. They remind us of love found and love lost. Cats may come and go but they are ever in our hearts. We are so lucky to be together, one and all.
Three. Five. Seven. Six. Seven. Eight. Seven. We have gone thru many iterations of the number of cats in our house. Numbers five and seven were pairs. They grabbed me in the pet store and latched on to my sleeve until I relented and took them home. Yeah, softie! We lost Patch. Tillie came home until Colleen discovered the next day that Peas was her sister left behind. Eight! Following me? And, then we lost Ray. No more cats. I am used to feeding seven cats. Seven is a lucky number. Don’t ask. I have litter boxes on three levels of the house in four spots with a wooden gated barrier to separate warring factions. What have I/we done? Happy family? Oh yeah!!
Seven cats. Count ’em. Tillie and Peas got extras (pics). It’s their birthday. Our merry band has changed… wish that it weren’t so. Confusion reigns. Try to remember, who got fed, where?
Sometimes I surprise myself. I did that?!
Vent cover. I never heard of them. I took them for granted. I never look at them. You can buy them. It’s better than the old metal one. Ah! Finish?! You gotta do it yourself. Really?! I did that?! Yup! I finished it to match. Myself. Not bad. Yes, the cats were curious at every step. There is some skill involved. Ha! Undaunted. Edges, sill, vent, nail gun, oh my! Easy! Right! I gotta say… don’t try this at home. (Wink!)
I also gotta say that I took pictures as I went along. Gee, everything deserves a picture….
You go through the holidays. We got through the first leg – Thanksgiving. Christmas to come, it should be ever interesting. We managed to pull it off. Smiles! We had some. And there were members of the family who would have rather avoided the camera but reluctantly posed. Jen scrapbooks. A lot of the group shots are for her. And we will do it once more next year. I hope. Meanwhile my cats remain ever obedient and climb right up on the table whenever I call.
If I have learned nothing else, it is all about focus and the eyes in portraiture. Cat, humans, whoever whatever you shoot, it is sharp focus on the eyes that makes the picture. If you can do that, then you break all the rules. Or, any rules….
I run around camera in hand trying to get pictures. The cats merrily romp. The never cooperate and mostly never look in my direction. I have lots of tricks. I make strange noises. Distraction or draw their attention? You would never know. Note: all cats did not cooperate for these pictures; none were harmed.
Got eyes? Ok! Try and get fur. You need texture in the fur. Black cat? It’s near impossible. White cat? Ditto! There is so much to remember while you chase focus on the eyes. Yes, comical – a grown retired surgeon making strange noises and hand gestures while chasing after cats who could care less.
Family photo time! My timing was poor. Colleen said no and had a fit. We were just getting over severe colds and she was sleep deprived and still coughing. Plus, we were in a cooking frenzy a few days before Thanksgiving. Ha ha, it ain’r a pretty picture.
Take seven cats and ask them to cooperate. Right?! Each was frog marched up to the table and forced to look at the camera. Cooperation was at a minimum. Jen laughed at how happy Willow looked to be there. The passable shots were melded. Voila!
We got photobombed. Spice is over Colleen’s left shoulder. So, I got eight cats and didn’t know it.
Happy Holidays from our Family to yours.
If you are going to do this, then go for it. Multiple shots and poses. It took about 130 shots in all. And no, it was not perfect. But this is all tongue in cheek. Eh?! A few years back the ladies in the drug store giggled. The peeked at my prints and were impressed that the cats all lined up. With straight face I told them I have trained cats….
As you can readily see Colleen came around to my way of thinking. We truly do love our cats.
“Ok! All you guys, get up on the table and smile. Now!”
Ha ha. My Lightroom catalog reflects what is in my life. Of course! Family! Love. Life. Food. Sunrise. Sunset. Cats. Antique stores. Flowers. Sheep. Fiber. I state the obvious. There is so much. No going back. I wish…. I miss Lulu (Saudi). I love Feather and Spice. …and Colleen. Transformational. Colleen has made all of life worth living these days. I hope the day never ends.
It’s about time for the annual family shot – Colleen, me, and the seven cats. They march up onto the table and I shoot with the remote control and tripod. Simple. Easy.
This year the pandemic is over. Is it? To all intents and purposes it is hard to find many masks and precautions. We are not taking risks. But pretty much wherever we go there are few admonitions or masks. People are still hospitalized and dying. Our social exposure is slowly ramping up. For the first time in several years we will have a family gathering at Thanksgiving. Good luck to all.
We have returned from extended trips – Maine and California. What do you shoot – when you get back? Cats! Of course! It was a welcome reunion with hugs all around. Who missed who – more? One of the favorite activities – eating grass and leaves on the deck. Ok! I hope everyone is happy. We are happy to be home.
I am racked with guilt. Even when they were both with us, I could never tell the difference between Ray and Nutley looking at them head on. There was a white collar of fur on Ray’s neck. Flowers look the same too? Right? You don’t mistake your kids? Relatives? Friends?
Ha ha. Freudian? I started to list the cats as “family” in the category and tags.
Backwards. Opposite. … we are not… neat and organized.
We do pack our days. Upon our return from our recent trip to Maine it took about an hour to unload the car. Slow?! We had a lot of stuff crammed in all the nooks and crannies. How about a linear foot of books beneath the front seats. Exaggerate. No, I was merely cautions. There was a lot of glassware or pottery too.
Waiting were my seven cats. It took Feather a day to forgive my absence. Wating too, were a slew of Amazon fairy packages. Neat! Colleen would spy a book she had to have. I would find it discounted… or that tea pot. We need another like a … and I found it on Amazon and had it shipped. Ha! More room in the car. Thank goodness we do not have a van.
We managed a visit to the beach. The erosion from the recent hurricane had pretty much decimated the beach. I started to spin. There’s a lot of fiber processing to come this winter. And Feather made it to the vet.
Neat comes later. Organized? Colleen got a new pocket book and transferred the contents from her old one. We never did find the old one among our bags. Hmmmm? And a bread box? Yeah!? I did not know we needed one. Books? Every other available space … used and second hand. It seemed every library in Maine had a sale going. You borrow, right? Nope, you can buy gently used….
It’s all very topsy turvy confusing but there is organization to our happy chaos. Umm… and another spinning wheel… like the proverbial hole in the head. Ah! Ha! It folds compactly to travel in the car! Yup, it would be great if we had any room in the car. Did I remember to mention the large bags of sheep fleece?
I am so fortunate. I have a deck to sit. The beach is a short ride away. The soundtrack of “Jaws” plays gently on my mind. Cats! I never cared much for cats till Colleen…. I got no complaints. I got worries. Don’t we all? Charmed. I have been indeed “lucky.”
How long is mourning? Not a day goes by lately that I don’t miss our departed Ray. I guess it was his sudden death? Nutley, his brother, is identical in photos except for the color of the fur around his neck. It’s hard to tell. Trust me. I edit and it’s hard to tell Ray from Nutley. Our other twins – Spice and Feather – are equally hard to distinguish in pictures.
Storm’s coming. Here’s a neat trick. I have trained the cats. I clap hands and say, “Go!” They trot to the door and come in off the deck. Yes!
You will notice the clip and rope around Ray’s neck. He and his brother staged frequent jailbreaks over the fence of the deck, hence, the restraint.
As I said before, we miss Ray.
It’s easy to slip into your comfort zone. I shoot cats, family, and flowers. There is some travel, restaurants, food, and museums. Events are an occasional opportunity. It is a running legacy. Does anyone care?
By now you’ve seen about as many cats and flowers as you might ever wish to see. There are stories. Sure. But how interested is anyone in the saga of my cats? Good pictures? Technically so, they are I suppose. Good stories? For a laugh, maybe they are. Somewhat.
I write. It’s an outlet. I illustrate. Or, perhaps I photograph to illustrate? Eh? I photograph. I decided I cannot draw or paint. Photographs don’t lie. Except when they do. I photograph. I tell stories. I suppose you should be glad not to be my cat. Too many pictures.
“Even or odd?”, the vet asked Colleen. Do you want an even number of cats? We are currently odd. The number is already unwieldy. They keep us busy. Isn’t one (cat) enough? They only let me have one wife at a time. Hee hee. Characters one and all. All unique. I give and receive different affection from them all. And our relationship is always evolving. Ha ha. Currently we have two sets of twins. And they are not identical in behavior whatsoever. Yes, unique. I’m still running tryouts. I just hope we don’t end up with nine cats….
Today was inventory day. I went around with my camera to photograph each cat. i do the periodically. Nutley is (heaviest) largest. Peas weigh two pounds more than Tillie. You cannot tell Feather from Spice from looking at their faces. Willow and Elle are singles. They never say boo.
We were at the vet and Colleen lamented that Nutley looked depressed and lethargic after Ray’s sudden death. How about another kitty to stimulate Nutley? The vet agreed and suggested to tryout some kittens her tech was fostering. Vetted kittens – a pun!
Dodge (he was found in the engine well of a …), Jack, and Walter came to visit. Nutley climbed on the dresser, hissed, and was having nothing to do with tryouts. He was spooked by sudden introduction of new kittens. Cute! Yes, they were! Failed!? Another brilliant idea gone south. It’s like love at first sight. Either it is or it isn’t. But you cannot make things happen because you wish it to happen. Alas. Cute! Almost? No, we were not about to have ten cats!
Eight pictures six cats. We are doing a kitchen renovation. The cats are kept free and separated from the workmen. I got two or three (cats). They are spooked. Strangers! So, they hide. The others are with Colleen and want to see. They are ready to go explore the doings. Sort of. Several want out. Freedom! And Feather? She has steadfastly remained hidden under the couch since the doorbell rang.
Today is a series of non sequiturs. Bugs? Caterpillars? They walk into my pictures and jump onto my camera sensor on the way to my memory card. See the fine hair detail on the bug? There’s not much detail in the caterpillar. Was it me or the worm? Colleen made a cobbler from fresh picked white peaches. Yum! Cats preoccupy our attention. I am charged with getting their pictures. It’s a specialty. Cats do not pose on demand. Ever! Clouds? Lately the clouds have been distinct against a bright blue sky. Great! Flowers? Macro lens and super detail. The featured flower gives me the impression it is waiting to devour an unsuspecting bug that wanders into its maw. So many pictures so little time…
I cruise the garden for photo ops. I sit and photo the dawn and dusk out my window. I get a gallery’s worth of pics. My cats are not exactly cooperative. The key is to focus on their eyes. They won’t look at me. Boring. Me?! Ha ha! Bugs come and go. They fly in and I shoot. Water? It rains and I water. It’s another opportunity. Life is pretty peaceful right now. I hope it stays that way.
There was a point where we had three sets of identical twin cats. We lost two cats in the past year – cancer and sudden death. They are not forgotten. Missed – terribly! You get over it? Not really. I miss the cats I left behind in Saudi – Lulu, Cassie, Biddie. Cats have come and gone in my life nowadays. I haunt cat rescue looking for an outsize character like Ray. The cats at home are unique characters, and all are loved. Sometimes you would think there are too many cats to keep track of. Actually, it was harder to tell the twins apart.
Patch and Willow were virtually identical. I could only tell who’s who by the behavior of each cat. The others had slightly different markings that allowed me to tell who was who but only by seeing the whole cat. Face on each twin was identical to me. For Colleen – well, a mother always knows….