Tag: cameras

Cats, Cameras, and Caring Less

So it’s “BIG CAT” week at National Geographic. As much as I’d love to say “big deal’, I do hold a certain fascination for these creatures, and I respect those photographers and filmmakers who spend weeks and months with the big cats to fill a good hour episode. I watch with awe and envy. I know what goes into every frame, and what it takes to get the shot that tells the story.

My own experience with cats and cameras, however, is not so glamorous. I’ve spent some time on safari and have learned a great deal about these cats, and I can tell you this much –

Cats couldn’t care less about cameras. They couldn’t care less about people with cameras, too. It doesn’t matter if it’s a cat person with the camera, or a filmmaker, or an idiot. The cat couldn’t care less.

I have many friends who are cat people. They post silly pictures on facebook of their cat asleep in the sun or looking pissed off about something. When I go to their homes, I am overwhelmed with smell of cats. The cats, however, are nowhere to be seen, they couldn’t care less that I’ve arrived after a long absence. They couldn’t care less about a lot of things, and well, cats are just like that.

I’m not really a cat person in my every day life. When I come home from my travels, I actually like to know I’ve been missed. The pets I own physically rush to the door, wag their tails like helicopters, and smother me with affection. They’re called dogs. There is no doubt in my mind how they feel about me. They care.

I can appreciate cats, however, especially if they are really big and live in the wild. When I observe cats in the wild through the lens of my camera, even the smell doesn’t bother me. I watch long enough, and soon find myself reading their every thought (click). I get into their minds (click), and really connect in ways that I never experience with other people’s kitty cats (click, click, click). And you know what I’ve learned? Cats couldn’t care less. (delete, delete, delete).

Cats love to torment (click). Cats love to play games (click, click). Exactly what they gain from these games is nothing more than the satisfaction of having proven that they care not about anyone or anything other than themselves (delete). They certainly don’t care if I’ve got the right lens on (delete), or need to change the battery (delete), or only have 3 frames left on the memory card (delete all? press OK to confirm).

Hang on, cats. I’m not going to let you off that easy. I can still get in your mind through my lens, remember? My camera is able to freeze a split second of your life, and even though in every frame your “I couldn’t care less” subtext remains clear and consistent, there can be more to the story, and more to reading your thoughts, too. Well, at least this much more: “it’s all about me.”

Case and point: During a recent safari in the Maasai Mara, we happened upon a pair of lions laying in the grass. While the male was lost in his “all about me” thoughts, the female quite clearly “couldn’t care less” about the male; she had something else on her mind.

With absolutely no concern for the fact that I still had a telephoto lens stuck to my camera, the lioness came right to the tree which stood literally within arm’s reach of our vehicle.  She could care less about the vehicle being there, and she could care even less that I was fumbling for a different lens in anticipation of what she might do next.  Nope, she showed no consideration whatsoever, it was “all about her”, and up the tree she leapt.


Tree Climbing Lion – Sequence by Kymri Wilt

Turns out this was more than just a display to express how much she didn’t care about my getting the shot with the right lens. At least, up in the tree, she was again distant enough that I could fit the cat entirely in the frame. She made quite a show of finding just the right spot to settle.

“now what….”

Remember what I mentioned earlier? That bit about cats loving to torment and play games? Turns out that is exactly what she was up to. I mean, why else would she bother fighting gravity to get herself up in that tree?

“oh good, this’ll show him….”
“I don’t care that it’s extremely uncomfortable…I look good”

Well yes, lioness, of course you look good…you’re in a tree and surrounded by wildlife paparazzi! But I have news for you, dear cat. As far as my camera is concerned….it’s not “all about you”.
Cue the male.

“WTF???!!!”
“That B*#@%!!!!”

The photos tell the story. Cats couldn’t care less. Cats love to torment. Cats live in an “all about me” world. But maybe, just maybe, they might actually care that there’s a camera around.

“Are you looking at moi??”

CAUGHT!

More about cats:

Killer Cats of Kwandwe

Tharu, Rice, Tigers, Grass

African Wildlife Photo Gallery

Dedicated to the memory of Sacha, a cat who exemplified the essence of caring less. 

AAA magazine cover shot: Machu Picchu

So I finally got my digital hands on a digital version, and here it is!

The current JAN/FEB 2011 cover of AAA Home & Away magazine (Ohio edition):

Like it? You can find this image

and many more available for licensing at:

Mira Terra Images Travel Photography & Services

Or, take a look at my Danita Delimont collection. Many thanks to Danita!

So if you wish to simply appreciate the image for what it is, read no further. And if you’re hoping to find the inside scoop on the technical details of exposure, ISO, focal length, and all that, look away now…you won’t find it here.

Still curious to know how this image came to be? Read on.

You see, my preferred camera to shoot with is the Canon 5D Mark II, backed up by the Canon 50D. But I also carry a small Panasonic Lumix which I’ve had forever, before the 5D came along, simply to shoot video clips for quick’n’easy web posting. It just so happened that when I saw this moment – the solo traveler in the mist overlooking Machu Picchu – I had been shooting video with the Panasonic. No matter where I am, I am constantly composing everything I see in my mind’s eye. So I snapped a couple of stills with the Lumix before switching the lens on my Canon 5D Mark II to get the same shot. Well, by the time I had done so, the person moved on, or was joined by a crowd, or the mist moved in, I forget exactly what changed, but the “moment” was gone. So this was it. And here’s my big secret. The above magazine cover was shot with an everyday point and shoot Panasonic Lumix.

It just goes to show that the camera doesn’t really matter all that much. The camera is simply the tool with which a photographer composes and records a moment in time. Had I not shot the moment with the Lumix I had in hand, and instead only fumbled around to grab the right lens on my Canon SLR, then there would be no cover shot, no license, no sale, and no point in this blog post.

Recognize the moment, compose, create.

Finally, before you scream “dumb luck”, here’s a moment that I did manage to capture with my Canon 5D Mark II which got it’s turn in the print publishing spotlight, featured in National Geographic Adventure magazine 2008/09, and re-licensed for National Geographic magazine (France’s publication) in 2010:

Various other versions and images from this shoot have also been published by Destinations & Adventures International, Wilderness Travel, and a few others. Here’s my favorite frame as it appeared in a 2-page spread in Cathay Pacific‘s in-flight magazine “Discovery”:

There’s no question that Machu Picchu is a special place for me…and my camera. If you’d like to experience it for yourself, perhaps even with me, here’s information about two trips Ill be leading to Peru in October 2011:

TRAVCOA’s Galapagos & Machu Picchu – October 5
TRAVCOA’s Peru & Bolivia – October 12
*note: the dates overlap and you can combine both itineraries into one comprehensive journey of Ecuador, Peru and Bolivia. How’s that for convenient?

Both of these journeys include an overnight at the Machu Picchu Sanctuary Lodge, allowing for early access to the citadel before the buses and crowds arrive. No matter who you travel with or how you get to Machu Picchu, fork it out and DO THIS. You’ll be so glad you did and you’ll thank me later!

I’m very much looking forward to returning to Peru again this year. No matter how many times I’ve been, I’ll never tire of Machu Picchu – it’s always a new and wondrous experience. I hope you can join me…and be sure to bring your camera (any kind)!

Kid + Camera = Aquarium Fun!

Cape Town, South Africa boasts a great attraction for kids and cameras – the Two Oceans Aquarium located right at the Waterfront. For this week’s “Kids Around the World” post, once again, I feature my own kid as she follows in my footsteps…rather, I follow in hers!

My shot:

Her shot:

My Shot:

Her Shot:

She takes great video too!

Visit Delicious Baby for more interesting posts of travel, photography, and kids! And have a happy September!

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