I am multi-tasking: I chopping cucumber for green salad, talking to my mother, and waiting for my lunch to arrive on the table. Suri catwalks through the door and announces her arrival. I don’t pay heed to her callings and continue chopping, talking and waiting. Suri rubs her head against my hanging legs. She is a cleaver girl, she knows how to draw my attention. I look below, our eyes meet. Suri calls me again. Darling, I know you cannot jump on the table.
I catch Suri and place her on the table. I watch her stretch and purr. Suri does not look like her usual self. I scan her trying to find out what’s wrong with her. And then I notice what happened to Suri.
“Mom,” I cry loud in astonishment.
“What happened,” mom replies back from the kitchen.
“Look at Suri,” I say. “She delivered.” I am staring at Suri’s loosened belly.
This morning when mom and I were on the deck, drinking tea, we watched Suri walking heavily, she was struggling. “Suri will give birth tonight,” my mother announced. I shook my head. “You have been saying same thing since couple of days,” I said in disbelief.
That was four hours ago. Now, Suri has come to us with her loosened belly.
A week ago when I called my mom to know how she was she said Suri is pregnant and will deliver any time. This was a good story for me. I packed my equipment and drove to my farmhouse.
After 12 hours of driving I should have been tired, but after kissing mom in the garden, I went straight to the deck to get a close look of Suri.
“Don’t be impatient my boy,” my mom said while throwing away her gardening gloves.
I laughed. “Mom, I am hoping to get best shots for my assignments.”
Suri came to live with us about six years ago. My mother brought one month old Suri from our relative’s house. As I took pictures of the new member from my 2 megapixels Samsung, I remembered all cellphone photography rules.
|Hold your phone steady and press the shutter. Wait for a while for photo stabilization.Instead of being depended on flash, try to use the source of light in and around you. Use scene mode in your camera to take pictures in different lighting conditions.Take pictures in different angles. Tilt and shift your phone to change the perspective of your photo.|
Two years later, when I had my own point and shoot camera, I came to my farmhouse to explore photography. I took pictures of our animals, rice field, orchard, garden, fruits, flowers, vegetables and off course Suri. I was just a boy with a camera, who wanted to self-learn photography. I read photography books, I took pictures. I had Nikon compact camera and I always reiterated to myself, “Equipment does not make a photographer.” My motto was: The best photographer is the one who can create best out of ordinary subjects and objects.
Every time I came to my farmhouse, Suri became a wonderful subject for me. I tried to capture this Bengal cat in different moods. My attachment with feline friend prompted me to fascination with cat photography. I began to observe feline behavioral patterns. I started reading books on cat behavior and observing Suri’s activities.
Suri communicated its emotional and mental intentions through facial expression, vocal sounds, body postures, and tail movement. She maintained connection with us through these signals. Suri expressed her social behavior by rubbing the side of the head, lips, chin, or tail against us or furniture. “By doing so, cat stimulates scent glands in these regions, which helps them to establish familiarity with the environment and human beings,” said the books I read on feline behavior.
|Take close-up, medium close-up, and top shot of your cat when it is napping.Gently wake your napping cat and take the picture of its surprised expression.Rub your cat’s cheeks and capture its relaxed picture.Caress its belly and encourage it to roll over and take the top shot. Experiment with your photo by using reflector or firing flash while taking the picture of the cat in the sunlight.|
More I understood Suri, better were my photographseven though I only had compact camera.
Once I was in my farmhouse, when Suri’s delivery time was near. I was excited to capture Suri and her kittens in my camera. Sadly, Suri disappeared for a week, and when she came back she had already given birth to her kittens. I stayed in my farmhouse for a month but could not find out where she had hidden her kittens. Suri, an outdoor cat, was very secretive about giving birth and choosy about their labor room. I did not know Suri had already given birth until I saw her empty belly.
Two months after I was back in the city, I remembered Suri while talking to mom on phone. “A week after you returned,” mom said, “Suri came with her three kittens.”
Mom revealed some strange feline behavioral pattern. As the kittens grew, Suribegan developing strange hatred towards her kittens. For many days she would be away and mom had to take care of kittens. “One day I foundSuri had actually abandoned us,” she said.
After the mother ran away, the kittens lived with us in our farmhouse. Few months later, two male kittens left our house and only one female remained with us. Mom named her Suri.
When I was back in my farm house, Suri was six months old. The first meeting was amazing. I wish I had my camera ready to capture the brilliant moment: Suri coming out of the attic with a rat still struggling between her teeth. I watched Suri dropping the injured rodent on the floor and playing football.
Few years later I learned the tips and tricks of photographing pets in my photography class; however, at this time I did not know the basic rules of photographing cat: You never know what cat will do. Therefore, patiently wait for your cat to spring into action, and keep your camera handy to capture your cat’s natural action. You can also encourage your cat to do some antics such as playing with ping-pong ball, tearing clothes and take the spontaneous picture.
|To take best pictures of your pets, you must have: Patience Willingness Friendliness Your camera ready|
My father was closely watching my fascination with photography. Seven months ago, he gave me a DSLR for my birthday. I immediately enrolled for photography class. Father was impressed with my progress and when I asked for tripod, lens and other equipment, he did not deny.
After completing five weeks class “Photography for Beginners,” I came to my farm in a photography mission. Sine my cellphone photography stage, Suri had been my subject. When I moved up to compact camera stage, Suri still attracted me. Now, with a DSLR, Suri became a major attraction for my lens.
There is a reason why I am so much in love with my mom’s cat. My parents love story began with cat. Once his friend asked my father to accompany him to his aunt’s house. Since my father was free that afternoon, he went with his friend to his aunt’s house. When two friends entered the drawing room, his friend’s cousin was playing with a kitten. “I looked at the girl and the kitten,” father recollects. “The girl was very simple, but the cat was glamorous.”
I wish there was a photograph of my mom and her cat when father spotted them for the first time. My mother wore no makeups, but she had applied kohl, nail polish, lipstick, blusher on her cat. “The cat even wore beads and a frock,” father muses.
Father never acknowledges that the first meeting sparked love, however, mother says a different version of the story. “Your father began coming to our house quite often.” Mother’s story has some solid ground because in the time when there was no internet and no phone in mother’s house, father traveled in a hired car for 4 hours to come to mother’s house every weekend.
Whatever the story maybe, they both have one thing in common. They both like cats. Sometimes when ask, “Who wants to assist me while I am photographing Suri?” I hear both of them say, “I want.”
Sometimes father provokes Suri and help me capture the cat in action. He knows the tricks on how to encourage Suri to spring into action. He gives catnip, throws a rope or ball, call the cat’s name or wiggle things, and I wait for the cat to play or respond. Sometimes it is mother, who happens to be my assistant. As I set my camera trying to shoot the cat, my mother begins to distract Surifrom behind or above. The best shot comes out when I am able to capture the cat when it is looking away from me or above my head.
Sometimes my parents get tired. “Cats have too much self-reliance,” they remind me. “Therefore, it is hard to make them follow your orders.”
“Yes, I know Suri will never give me the best shot, it is me who has to work for it,” I answer back.
Since I have attended photography class, I am too confident about my photography. I constantly reiterate photography lessons.
|If you pay attention to camera angle, light source and placement of your pet, you can create best photo out of mundane pet activities. If you are taking indoor pictures, open the curtains or blinds, or give artificial light on your subject by switching on lights. Anti-light is not always bad. You can take wonderful photos even when your subject is blocking the light source. Always try to take the picture of your subject in natural light. However, sometimes you can capture the surprise or terrified expression by firing flash.|
Now, I have moved up from beginners’ level to “Advance Photography Course.” This time I am in my farmhouse to capture Suri and her new kittens. This is an important photography mission for me because if I manage to impress my instructor, I will have a chance to work with him as an assistant.
Suri is lying on the dining table licking her coat. Mom is preparing rice pudding for the new mother. “How many kittens do you think are there in the litter,” I ask my mom.
“In her previous pregnancy, Suri had four kittens,” mom says. I feel sad for Suri because none of the kittens survived, a stray cat killed death. Mom says the moment he-cat spots kittens, he bites them to death.
I was very eager to see her kittens. I left Suri in the dining table and went in search of the litter. Sadly, I could not find Suri’s kittens anywhere. Two days later when I saw Suri on the roof of our animal shed, I climbed the attic. Suri had chosen her delivery place in the attic of our animal shed.
The moment, she spotted me Suri snarled. She was not in a mood to tolerate intruder. Cats are very possessive about their kittens. They hardly let you come near. Suri is very fond of me but when I went to see her kittens she snarled.
Couple of hours later when Suri was napping in the sunlight, I secretly went to the attic. To my surprise,Surihad already shifted her kittens.Cats do not like to show their babies. The new mother constantly changes her hiding place. I knew where the kittens were only after two days of the delivery. After Suri knew I knew her place and kittens, she sifted her place.
A week later, I saw Suri in the garret of our outhouse. Despite my mother’s warning that once Suri knows I know her place she will move her kittens, I went to Suri with buttered-milk. Kittens hid behind the log and Suri stared at me for a while but then she walked towards me and licked milk.
When Suri gave birth to three kittens, I found some interesting feline behavioral patterns.
Mother cats are very active, they start hunting rodents. Suri was lazy girl but after delivering kittens, she had developed a passion for game. She could wait for hours at the mouth of a rat hole.
Kittens eyes are opened after couple of days. But once they can spot the things around, they snarl when they think a danger is before them. Suri’s children were so cute but when I tried to touch them they growled.
Every time I went to see Suri, I carried my equipment. In the beginning, I maintained a distance. As Suri became comfortable with the lens, I approached little near. I photographed the kittens and the nursing cat in different angles, in different perspective, in different lighting conditions.
I will back to the city in few hours, but I will carry the memories of Suri with me.