The Catty Shack

2015.01.02
Day Two Hundred and Eight. I was both super excited and really nervous for this shoot. The Catty Shack is a rescue shelter for large cats. They do feedings that are open to the public on Saturday nights. I figured that getting an unobstructed view was going to be impossible (which was also going to make focusing an issue). And, shooting at night meant either using a flash (something I do extremely rarely) or shooting wide open at ultra high ISO.

I started with the flash, hoping that more light would produce better images. As expected, the fence/cage (sometimes both) caused serious problems. I also had quite a bit of trouble dialing in the correct exposure for each cat. Since the intensity of the light varies with the distance to the subject, if the cat was walking towards me, I'd have to try and compensate on the fly (which usually didn't work out too well). Using a flash with moving subjects is definitely something that benefits greatly from experience, something which I found myself lacking.

When I switched to high ISO and ditched the flash, if the cat was far away from the fence, it almost looks like a unobstructed view, but there's so much noise and so little depth of field (due to being shot wide open), that the final images came out really soft. Despite the issues with the flash bouncing off the fence, I think using the flash was the right approach.

Even though this was a super challenging shoot (I only had a 10% keep rate and still probably kept too many) and I certainly didn't walk away with any printable images, it was still a really fun experience. Listening to the lions and tigers growl over their dinner was incredible. The only thing that would have made it better would've been if they'd let me pet one, but, for some reason, they only let the handlers do that ;)
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