We have a couple of Feral cats in our neighbourhood that I have hankered over photographing for some time now. The older cat, the mother of the other, has this attitude; a certain way of saying “Yeh, what do you want?”, as she lays in the middle of the road and defies the motorists to run her over. I frequently have to get out of my car to “Shooo” her off the road.
I wanted to capture her bad attitude as she stares me out when I pass her. The opportunity arose when a friend at Uni lent me his Nikon 80~200 f/2.8 zoom lens. I had taken the lens on a trip to Welshpool and stayed on a sheep farm where I attempted to take some hand-held shots. With a combined D800 + lens weight of over 2.4kg I set the ISO at a very high rate with the consequence of excessive ‘noise’. For the cats project I attempted overcome my need for high ISO by using a table-top tripod mounted to the lens and set the ISO to 200 as it was a sunny day. I like to control my depth of field when taking portraits and I set the f-stop to f/5.
The hunt was on; as it was a sunny day I knew the cats would be sunning themselves somewhere and I started to explore their known haunts. I spent about ½ hour searching around the streets for the cats and at last I found them; I couldn’t believe my luck; they were both lazing around a dumpster in a locked compound. To capture the cat’s attitude, I laid prone on the ground across the path and road with my camera tight against a locked, mesh-fence pair of industrial gates in a hope that I’d avoid capturing the mesh grid in my photo; I must have looked quite a sight. The camera was about 10” off the ground, so about eye-height of the cat and the shutter speed indicated 1/4000, so I was assured of a no-shake image.
I am pleased with the image. The context with the dumpster conjures-up the street-wise cats surviving on their wits and hand-outs, supplemented by the occasional mouse.
Perhaps I could have increased the depth of field by selecting f/7 or f/8, but I’m happy that the second cat is identifiable but does not compete with my prime subject and the dumpster is clearly identifiable. I did a little work in Lightroom, nothing excessive and I cropped the image from the right-hand side, ensuring that I didn’t crop the rubbish adjacent to the cat.
I’m not aware of any influences in my choice of subject matter or style for this image, I am however, mindful of considering where this image might be published and therefore I consider it to be an Editorial Portrait. I like to think that I’ve developed my own style of photography, but I have to admit to being heavily influenced by amazing photographers such as René Burri, Laura Wilson, David Hurn and Philip Jones Griffiths.