Thursday, October 29, 2009

Florida on my mind ...

All photos by Ken Flick in this post
Note in a bottle.
In the ten years since I began photographing cats for a living, our only "vacations" have been a couple of days stolen during the return trip from some cat show destination. Most recently, that involved recovering for two days on the beaches of the Florida panhandle after doing the TICA Annual in Orlando, Florida. Just being there in this, our favorite vacation spot before I became a cat photographer, triggered a flood of memories. This is where Ken and I were married -- barefoot on the beach -- in October of 1998.
Although, as weddings go, we spent very little on this one -- by all accounts of those who attended, this was a celebration that was as cherished a time for them as it was for us.

Our wedding invitation came in a box. Inside the box was a square booklet, hole-punched, with ribbon ties. Inside the booklet were images of the beach, the above note-in-a-bottle picture, our wedding rings, our kitties (on the back of the last page -- why cats? Why not? They were and are a large part of our life!), a map of the area, and words Ken wrote. The booklet was seen as soon as you opened the lid of the box. Once you removed the booklet, you could see the box had compartments.
In these compartments were the following:
(1) a glass test tube with a rubber stopper containing turquoise sea water;
(2) a clear plastic rectangular box containing the white sand that this stretch of Florida is famous for along with some shells and sand dollars we bought at a shell store in Florida during our reconnaissance trip;
(3) a one sheet invitation which we created on brown paper, typed, individualized, and stuffed into a small bottle (a miniature of the one in the photo above); and
(4) an RSVP form with self addressed and stamped envelope to return to us, letting us know if the recipient was planning on attending a week long wedding feast and the ceremony itself. The RSVP also asked what at which airport the invitee would be arriving, date/time, and flight number so we could have them scooped up and delivered to the beach house we rented for a week in Dune Allen Beach.

This wedding invitation box was mailed out to a small number of our old and dear friends across the country. The note in the bottle, above, was printed as the first page of our wedding invitation.

Photo by Ken Flick
Looking down the beach.

Photo by Ken Flick
A shot of the dunes dividing the Gulf (which you can't see) from the lagoon in the foreground.

Photo by Ken Flick
Here is another shot of the dunes from almost the same vantage point but at sunset.

Photo by Ken Flick
One of my favorite shots of Florida: the water and waves.

Photo by Ken Flick
Standing out in the Gulf and shooting back at the beach.

The white sand is so reflective that you can get a sunburn from it in no time if you aren't careful. But it is the sand that gives the water that beautiful jewel-like color and crystal clarity. In the summertime, there are little tiny fish who swim close to shore and nibble at your ankles in the surf. I think they are exfoliating your calves and ankles, or else they are getting food from the sand you've whipped up with your feet as you walk in the water. Once you get past the breakers and are swimming, they don't bother you. One of our close friends is freaked out by them, but to me, they tickle!

Ken and I are looking forward to going back down to this area and celebrating our anniversary, albeit a little late. At sometime in the future, I will photograph the invitation and post it. I am very lucky in that I have a very romantic husband who is also a writer!

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Everybody Focus ....

Sometimes, the most interesting images of kittens are when they are not interested in looking at the camera, but doing their own "thing." These guys above, 8 weeks old and brought to me for photos by Cari and Pete Tucker, is a good example of that. They look soft and fuzzy and only one of the eight is looking at the camera. That they are all facing forward was a big plus for me!

Another example of none of the kittens looking at the camera!

And here we have the majority looking at me, thanks to Ken teasing them toward the lens. These little guys were eager to please, but they weren't quite sure what we wanted them to do! It was a hoot. I love photographing kittens. They have no fear and are fascinated by stimulus. Plus they look so cute! The publishers usually want the cat or kittens to be looking in the lens of the camera and will take that pose over an action shot.

Thanks to Cari and Pete Tucker for bringing over their 8 week old litter of eight Maine Coon kittens for me to photograph! And thanks to Ken for teasing them so well!
Background for this Maine Coon litter of eight: Claret.

Monday, October 26, 2009

The Blue Shoot: Mishikoonz 8-week old Maine Coon Kittens

Here's Mishikoonz Stripey, an 8 week old Black and White Maine Coon male.

And here is the whole group! Five Black Silver Classic Tabbies with White and three Black and White Maine Coon kittens from Mishikoonz. Cari Tucker and her husband, Pete, brought them over for their first photo session. Pete was a quick study and turned out to be a very good "Tosser" as well as Kitten Wrangler, making sure there was no "air" between the kittens and prompting them to walk across the photo table.

This was Cari's first litter of Maine Coons so photo documentation of each kitten was very important. What sweet little Coonlets ... it was a fun shoot!

The Background for this sitting was Cobalt Blue.

Tomorrow I'll post a shot from the Claret Red sitting.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Happy Halloween

"Tanstaafl Cashmere," a young Black Maine Coon female, shot at the TICA Gulfport Mississippi Cat show in January of 2003 with small pumpkins that Ken and I brought to the show just for this sitting.
Background for Cashmere: Black

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

On Your Mark, Get Set ....

This is a Ruddy Abyssinian, "Nobgoblin" intent on getting the pheasant feather that Ken is using to tease him across the shooting table. Abys are wonderful photographic subjects: their fur is ticked, like a squirrel's, which makes their musculature more defined for the camera, they are VERY active cats and not afraid of being photographed or new situations. Ken calls them "monkeys on crack" ... because they are all over the shooting table. To get a shot of an Aby in a formal posed position is very difficult. An action shot is much easier! I love their look: inquisitive, curious, in the moment, and affectionate. They have a sweet face and always play in an entertaining fashion.

Nobgoblin was a good example of the activity of this breed. His back leg and tail were actually out of frame so I had to do some cloning of background to make the image publishable.

He was photographed at TICA's 2008 Jersey State Cat Show in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, USA.

Background for Nobgoblin: Sage

Friday, October 9, 2009

Maine Coon Kittens on Purple

Here are the kittens from the Saturday shoot on our Purple Background, one with a butterfly added during post processing (since they're looking up at the cat tease which Ken is holding out of frame), and the other, below, is a shot with the trunk. The trunk is very dark so another layer of the same shot was added with the trunk lightened. In this layer, everything but the trunk was erased so the kittens were the correct exposure but the trunk didn't look black!

Ken and I are working on developing a future post about what happens during retouching. For example, tails were added to the kittens on the ends to create a more pleasing image.
We don't usually bring this trunk on the road to cat shows, but we do use it for studio shoots.
Background: Purple.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Five 10-Week Old Silver Classic Tabby & White Maine Coon Kittens

Yesterday, an old customer and friend of mine brought over five 10-week old Silver Classic Tabby and White Maine Coon Kittens for Ken and me to photograph. We needed some kittens to "stand" on a title, "Cats on Blue" for an ad we're doing - or to be a panorama at the base of the ad, so I composited the group shot with (left to right) 2 kittens, then 2 kittens, then five kittens, and finally, a two kitten shot. You can click on the image and see it much larger.

Above is one of the males from the shoot. We were very pleased with the ease at which these kittens played with the cat tease Ken used to get them to look at the camera.

We shot some more on our Purple background, but that will have to be posted later.

Background for these Maine Coon kittens: Imperial Blue

Saturday, October 3, 2009

New Cover on Russian "Cats.Info" !

I recently found out that I have the cover of a Russian cat magazine, "Cats.Info." I asked how to say it in English since I don't have the keyboard for the Cyrillic alphabet and I don't understand Russian anyway, even if I did! The above image is Sheryl Koontz's Safari cat, Marechal Xspotica, a 10 month old F1 Black Spotted Tabby Safari female.

Below are some of the other images published in the October 2009 issue.

Wildkatz Bwana Bushwah, an F1 Brown Ticked Tabby Chausie Neuter, bred by Sandra Cassalia of Wildkatz Cattery.

ZenDada SunDog, a Brown Marble Tabby Bengal male, bred by Julie Gracie Moseley of ZenDada Cattery, on our Sage background, above.
Willowind Shekinah Glory, an 18 month old Black Spotted Grizzled Tabby Chausie female, bred by Tammy Isaacs of Willowind Chausies, photographed on our Imperial Blue background, at left.