cat photography

MOUSE

“Mouse”

Cat Portraiture

Copyright 2018 Nawfal Johnson

All Rights Reserved.

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IT IS A SAD DAY – MY CAT, ELESSAR, HAS DIED

My Cat, Elessar, has died:  Around 2:00am, 26 June 2013.  We believe he was born sometime in October 2007 – thus, he was almost six years old.

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[Photo Above:  One of the last few photos I took of Elessar, on 18 June 2013 – I wanted to make sure I got some pictures of him, even during his latest illness.]

Elessar came into our lives a little over five years ago (April 2008).  We found him wandering in the Island Plaza shopping complex area.

He was quite the mess when we rescued him:  He had been through a lot already in his young life.  He had a back femur bone that was dislocated from its socket, but somehow he figured out how to walk.  A human would have been paralyzed by such an injury, but not Elessar – he had a will of  iron.

He also had a very ‘sick tail’ – not sure how to describe it, but it was continuously bloody and scabby – it was a mess.  We eventually had to have his tail surgically removed because no matter what medicines he took, it never healed.  The Vet removed the tail except the last couple of vertebra because of the nerves involved in the tail area so he could have proper bathroom functions.

Eventually, the tail healed perfectly after most of it was removed.  Now, however, we think back on the tail-health issue, and how it never would heal, and we think that that health issue should have triggered  a thought in our Veterinary’s mind that maybe he had another underlying health issue:  In Elessar’s case, diabetes.  Wounds that do not heal should cause a medical expert to start thinking of diabetes:  Hindsight is kind of worthless sometimes when you are dealing with a life.  Nevertheless, the possibility of Elessar having diabetes never came up until these last 20 days.

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[Elessar riding in the car, with hood on, coming home after a visit to the Vet, about his tail amputation.  He enjoyed car rides, but not visiting the Vet.]

As far as his bum-leg went, somehow, his leg bone just found a way to work so he could run and jump and play like a normal active kitten: The Vet, when he first saw Elessar said he was an “Orthopedic Mess!”  We considered Elessar an “Orthopedic Miracle.”

His Name

We named him after J.R.R. Tolkien‘s character in The Lord of the Rings, Aragorn – Aragorn was crowned as King Elessar – so we named our cat, King Elessar Kitty!  Considering the king-sized health issues he lived with, the name seemed a good fit.

The “Forever Kitten!”

Image[Elessar having fun, but of course, when he is supposed to be posing for a portrait – that was Elessar – always the kitten at heart.  Photo taken on 21 Sept 2010.]

Cooperating on the Photo-Set…ONLY Sometimes, and on his terms

Even though Elessar liked to mess around, play, and have fun, he could surprise me and actually sit peacefully for a good head shot or portraits.  However, with all cats, everything is on their terms, and their time.  Us cat photographers are always waiting for the cat-divas to get ready – such is life!

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[Elessar sitting well for a good portrait, August 2010.]

SHARP TEETH!

One thing we noticed about Elessar was that he had EXTREMELY BIG, AND SHARP TEETH and CLAWS!  I think because he had some disabilities, his body adapted and he developed extreme fighting tools (teeth and claws).  IF, he got into a fight with another of our male cats (Avicenna was usually the culprit / instigator of these fights), then I would typically be the one to break up said fight; and sometimes, by accident, I got the bite that was intended for the other cat.  Let me tell you one thing:  Cat fang puncture wounds hurt – they hurt like hell, especially when the fang goes all the way deep into the knuckle.  It has happened a few times, but not intentionally – he was just protecting himself.

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[Elessar messing around on the photo set, August 2010, and showing off his fangs!]

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[This is Avicenna, taken in 2011.] 

Avicenna was Elessar’s best buddy; however, they had a very strange friendship.  Avicenna and Elessar, could in one moment be sleeping nose to nose peacefully.  In the next moment, Avicenna would be exerting his Alpha-Male’ness on Elessar, and Elessar really didn’t want to have any issues with Avicenna – Elessar was a peaceful and loving cat and really liked Avicenna.  However, after so many attempts by Avicenna to provoke a fight, Elessar would give Avicenna his wish, and then, major fights would erupt.  Usually, Elessar would kick Avicenna’s ass – remember those sharp teeth and claws?  Yeah, Avicenna would get a taste of his own medicine when messing with Elessar.  However, Elessar would simply ‘allow’ Avicenna to always believe that he was Alpha.  That was the kind of cat Elessar was:  He was a joyful and loving cat.  However, Elessar’s general philosophy when dealing with Avicenna was this:

“Avicenna – I love you like a brother; however, if you get in my face too many times, and if I can’t take it anymore, I’ll have to kick your ass!  But, I don’t give a shit about being Alpha – I just want to have fun, so you have the stress of being Alpha – fine with me!”

These Last-20-Difficult Days

About 20-days ago, we discovered that Elessar had a hematoma on his ear – it was basically a balloon full of blood.  We took him to the Vet and he was put on all sorts of medicines.  The hematoma got better, but he seemed to be getting sicker for some reason.

Because his health was not getting better, we took Elessar on another ‘fun’ trip to the Vet – I’m kidding of course – Elessar did NOT like Vet-visits.  The Vet decided to do a complete blood test to check kidney function; and also, Elessar had an abdomen X-Ray performed.  We discovered that he had second, and more major health problems to deal with:  He had fluid in his abdomen:  this was not good at all.  The Vet said it was probably from a failing kidney (or other internal organ problem).  With the blood test, we discovered that Elessar had a very high sugar level, and other blood measurements showed that his kidneys were failing:  He had a double-whammy – failing kidney and diabetic!  I never knew that cats could be diabetic until this incident with Elessar.

TOUCH & GO HEALTH:  A REALLY DIFFICULT TIME

From that point, the instant we received the bad news of his ill-fated diagnosis, we were devastated, but cautiously optimistic that King Elessar Kitty could pull out of this one too:  He has overcome other health issue and we believed he could overcome these new ones too.

The last 20 days, nevertheless, proved extremely difficult:  it was an uphill battle to get Elessar well.  A diabetic cat is a very difficult illness to treat:  and, he was on more meds than he could choke down.  The Vet also wanted us to feed him Science Diet AD food, and this needed to be finger fed to him because he had basically lost all taste for food:  He would no longer eat on his own will.  As I mentioned, and as the Vet told us – It was a very difficult and uphill battle to get him through this.  We, however, wanted to give him the best chance possible, so we did everything for him that we could.  We wanted him to stay positive; but in our hearts, we could see that he was slowly giving up hope.  Each day was a new, and more difficult struggle with the pills and the food.

  • He didn’t want to eat, and he didn’t want to drink water (this is very dangerous for a diabetic cat!); and much of the time, he no longer kept the medications down.  Without keeping the medication in, his kidney would not have a chance of getting better.

GOING OUTSIDE!

He didn’t want to eat.  He didn’t want to take his medications.  What he did want to do was to go outside – He would sit at the back door and meow to go outside.  So, I said we should let him do anything (within reason) that may make him happier, and going outside seemed to make him a little more chipper.  I took a few photographs of one of his last trips outside.

"Elessar - taking a walk outside."  Circa Oct 2007 to 26 June 2013.  Penang, Malaysia. By, Nawfal Johnson Nur.

“Elessar – taking a walk outside.” 18 June 2013. Penang, Malaysia.
By, Nawfal Johnson Nur.

"Elessar - enjoying the warm concrete outside."  Circa Oct 2007 to 26 June 2013.  Penang, Malaysia. By, Nawfal Johnson Nur.

“Elessar – enjoying the warm concrete outside.” 18 June 2013. Penang, Malaysia.
By, Nawfal Johnson Nur.

"Elessar - Closeup Portrait Head Shot, outside."  Circa Oct 2007 to 26 June 2013.  Penang, Malaysia. By, Nawfal Johnson Nur.

“Elessar – Closeup Portrait Head Shot, outside.” 18 June 2013. Penang, Malaysia.
By, Nawfal Johnson Nur.

"Elessar - Closeup Portrait Head Shot, outside."  Circa Oct 2007 to 26 June 2013.  Penang, Malaysia. By, Nawfal Johnson Nur.

“Elessar – Closeup Portrait Head Shot, outside.” 18 June 2013. Penang, Malaysia.
By, Nawfal Johnson Nur.

"Elessar - Closeup Portrait Head Shot, outside, against Sun Glow."  Circa Oct 2007 to 26 June 2013.  Penang, Malaysia. By, Nawfal Johnson Nur.

“Elessar – Closeup Portrait Head Shot, outside, against Sun Glow.” 18 June 2013. Penang, Malaysia.
By, Nawfal Johnson Nur.

"Elessar - Closeup Portrait Head Shot, outside and my hand."  Circa Oct 2007 to 26 June 2013.  Penang, Malaysia. By, Nawfal Johnson Nur.

“Elessar – Closeup Portrait Head Shot, outside and my hand.” 18 June 2013. Penang, Malaysia.
By, Nawfal Johnson Nur.

I am not sure what more to say, except, Elessar, you will be greatly missed!  We won’t tell any of the other cats, but you were “Best-Cat!”

Archimedes would benefit from a GOOD Home to Adopt Him

This is Archimedes. He has adopted us: He is an outdoors cat (adult, male, about 2-years old), and he comes and goes as he pleases. We would make him an indoors cat, but our adult male cats DO NOT appreciate Archimedes, like we appreciate Archimedes.

He is a very smart and friendly cat, and he really enjoys people-company.

A home where he would be the only cat, would be ideal for Archimedes.

We figure that he was once an indoors cat because he is so people-friendly, and pretty healthy…but he was abandoned.

You see, some people do not take responsibility for their pets. Maybe they think that having pets is easy all the time, or, that pets will not make mistakes/messes. Many people do not take all considerations in mind before getting a pet. Then, when people find out they cannot handle the pet, they do not like to care or clean up after the pet, or they are not allowed to keep the animal in their home, then many people simply find it easier to drop off the animal on the roadside, the park, the wet market, or wherever is convenient.

This irresponsible behavior results in a lot of suffering for animals. Cat, dogs and other animals who had a home, are suddenly on the streets, which are very unfriendly for small animals. All sorts of dangers await abandoned animals: they are subject to additional abuse, malnutrition and starvation, dangers of traffic, adverse weather, and diseases. Many of the abandoned animals are rounded up by Animal Control, and then killed.

Some people, I suspect, do not fully consider the responsibility of having an animal in their home, and that is a mistake. If you have doubts, then perhaps you are not ready to have a pet. If you take a pet, then abandon it, then the pet suffers – it is cruel and irresponsible.

It would be nice if Archimedes could find a good home. Until then, he has adopted us and we will take care of him. It is unfortunate that male cats of adult age are so very territorial – but they are. Our male cats sit indoors looking out the front (or back) screen door, having hissy fits that Archimedes is hanging around outside. Archimedes basically ignores our cats and sits peacefully – he is quite easy-going. However, if the two sides would ever meet nose-to-nose, I’m sure that sparks and claws would fly, and I don’t want to see that happen.

IF you live in the Penang area, and are RESPONSIBLE, love animals, and WOULD NEVER abandon an animal when the ‘going-gets-tough’, and if you would like to care for a really great cat, then you can send me a comment. However, I would be very thorough in my questions for you regarding your wish to adopt. Knowing that Archimedes was abandoned once already, I would not want to risk it happening again – I’m sure you understand.

Seriously Impressed with NIKON D3100 Low-Light Capabilities

AVICENNA & ELISAR

AVICENNA & ELISAR

Photo Details:

LOW Light capabilities of the NIKON D3100.
1/15 sec. @ f/2.8 @ ISO3200, and taken inside with shades closed on cloudy day, in a dark room – NO Flash.

I have not written much lately – just haven’t felt like it.

However, I wanted to share this photo with you (whoever is so kind to visit my blog), to show how capable the NIKON D3100 camera is.

I have never been one to buy into the price of a camera equals the “Photography Skill Level” marketing B%&^-Sh%$ that the camera companies have forced down consumers’s throats.

Not very many things irk me too much, but when I hear this such-and-such camera model is ‘entry-level’ and that one is ‘pro-level’, I kind of want to write notes to people at the camera companies and give my 2-cents worth.  WHEN did the price of a camera designate the skill level of a particular photographer?  I must have missed something…somewhere…

In my mind, someone with a Canon 5D Mark II or Nikon D3x can take ‘crap-photos’ just as easily as someone with a lower cost camera.  The photograph quality is based on the skill of the photographer behind the camera, not exclusively the camera.  In fact, a Pro or Pro/Am Photographer should respectively be able to make a really decent photograph with almost any camera that is placed in their hands.

The biggest differences between the various levels of cameras, based on price, are probably better durability, sometimes weight, and a few extra bells-and-whistles.  Of course, if you plan to shoot in really rough terrain or a war-zone, then by all means, go for something with a metal body.

If photographers are labeled based on the type of camera they like, or wish to use, then damn-it-all:  I guess after taking photographs since I was 12 years old (approx), which has been 33 years now, I guess I have demoted myself to an ‘entry-level’ photographer.  That kind of sucks!  Oh Well.  I don’t mind it too much:  I know who I am and what I am capable of (skill-wise) as a photographer.

I like my NIKON D3100 a lot – Most of the time I shoot in the MIGHTY-‘M’ Mode anyway.  I also use a CANON 420EX Speedlite triggered remotely with my NIKON – AND I KNOW THAT HAS GOT TO BE SOME KIND OF MAJOR SIN!

And, I still use my CANON POWERSHOT A620 for candid street photography.  It’s old, 6 or 7 years old, but it still works GREAT!

But, what do I know…

Do I sound a wee tad-bit cranky today?

Well, here is another shot I took with my D3100 – a tricky photograph to say the least.  Sometimes, the shots that seem straightforward are nothing but difficult to make.  To get this shot so that the flames (which are blue) to show up properly, you really need to have a near exact combination of ISO, Aperture, Shutter Speed, White Balance, Color Gel and acceptable Background Material.  And, a steady hand to hold the lighter.

HONEST Brand Lighter - Double Flame Still Life

HONEST Brand Lighter - Double Flame Still Life

Maysa’, Edit B Cat Portraiture

Maysa’, Edit B, originally uploaded by Nawfal Nur.

This photograph proves that you can use a Canon Speedlite very effectively with a Nikon DSLR! Yes, you can. Neither the camera nor the flash melted, blewup, or got destroyed. A Canon Speedlite 420EX was used with a Nikon D70S. I bounced the flash off the ceiling to fill the room with light.

Getting in Close

Cat’s Eye, Edit B

Our eye must constantly measure, evaluate. We alter our perspective by a slight bending of the knees; we convey the chance meeting of lines by a simple shifting of our heads a thousandth of an inch…. We compose almost at the same time we press the shutter, and in placing the camera closer or farther from the subject, we shape the details – taming or being tamed by them.” – Henri Cartier-Bresson – on composition. “American Photo”, September/October 1997, page: 76

Another way of getting a very close view of your subject, as in this shot, is to crop the image to include the ‘main subject’ AND DISCARD the rest.

The cropping method is also a safer way of photographing when your subject is an ‘eye’, which is highly sensitive to light (don’t want to damage anyone’s eye by being careless). I backed up the light considerably on this macro shot, and then positioned the light at a slight angle (the light is off-camera). In the final image (shown here), the main subject remains, and the rest was cropped. You can see the ring-flash makes a cool catch light in the eye.

The freedom to liberally crop brings up an important point in favor of high megapixel cameras: A high-MP camera (12 or 16 megapixels for example) is beneficial, because there is plenty of room for cropping…the original image will give you more leeway for tight cropping than a camera with less megapixels, naturally.

This image was shot with a Canon G2 (4.1MP), so the original image was not very large; thus, the initial image needed to be very accurate and the main subject positioned to take up more space in the frame. Therefore, less cropping was necessary. It would have been nice, however, to have the “freedom to liberally crop.”

Over all, when shooting for detail, move in close; and if that is not possible (or safe), then considering cropping the image to get to the main subject.

Bunny Dynamics

Bunny and Cat Portraiture by Nawfal Nur, All Rights Reserved 2007

Yesterday, I learned something about my bunny; something that proves she is more intelligent than I believed. Although, that is, I never imagined her as being all that “bright” in the first place.

The above photograph shows my motley crew, an uncooperative bunch, really!  That “bunch” would be my three cats and my bunny – from left to right: Salimah Bee, Bunny Bee, Aminah Bee and Jamilah Bee. They actually do get along very well; however, when it comes time for the family pet portrait, they can’t exit the scene fast enough. Jamilah wouldn’t sit next to Bunny, so we had to separate them. Salimah couldn’t sit still.  Aminah and Salimah didn’t want to sit next to each other. Out of the entire gang, Bunny was behaving the best.

Our big, fat bunny always appeared never to have a clue about much of anything, except eating. She eats the normal bunny food, plus when she is unmonitored, she sneaks in the occasional paint chips, metal, wood, cardboard, rubber and who knows what else…believe it or not, she is healthy as an Ox! Perhaps this is all considered bunny fiber; but we do not approve of her unsupervised eating habits – but bunnies are bunnies!

During the daytime, Bunny Bee has the run of the yard. Yesterday, she was going about her “bunny-business” when I saw her stand up on her back legs, then she crouched down and started thumping her back feet loudly on the driveway: I knew this was a sign of danger. She did this thumping action a couple more times:  It was enough to get my attention.

Bunny Bee weighs nearly 3.5kg, and I’m pretty sure she could hold her own in a brawl, but something had her worked up. She, like my cats, is family and I protect my family:  I went out to investigate the source of the ruckus.

Much to my surprise, a stray boy-cat was hanging out in the yard, and that is what had Bunny Bee in an uproar.

This is behavior I had not seen before: This proves that Bunny Bee is smart enough to distinguish her own sister house-cats from this stranger cat that had wandered into the yard.

I thought this was quite brilliant of the bunny, and it was also a little surprising for me to learn that Bunny Bee was more intelligent than I imagined.