This week's photos have a distinct theme to them. Cats. I generally find it quite tricky to take decent pictures of animals, mostly because they tend to move around and refuse to sit still and pose. Sometimes I manage it, like the awesome shots I got when we went to Twycross Zoo last year. But my track record with photographing cats is bad.
I have had a few successes in the past. This shot of a friend's Maine Coon being one of them:
But that picture is old, taken in 2006. So not really eligible for this year's photo challenge!
My usual target for cat-related photography is of course my own pet, Fidget. He is incredibly difficult to take a good picture of, on account of his dark fur.
Without the flash and in bad light, you can't see details. But with the flash, photos are often over-exposed, or are ruined by the reflective nature of his eyes. I don't want evil cat photos!
I did manage to get one decent shot of Fidget this week, but I think I like it more because it's funny, than because it's a good photo.
I think you get drawn too much to J's hand, than to Fidget's tongue. The flash kind of focused on flesh.
Luckily, I had other opportunities to take kitty snaps, as we had a chance at the weekend to meet some new neighbours. Where we live, there are a lot of cats, and because our back gardens all join together with no gaps (we live in an area of old Victorian terraces), we get a lot of cat traffic. Our cat is surprisingly territorial (for such a cute, cuddly, pathetically soppy creature, he is remarkably violent towards his own kind), so while we see a lot of the neighbours' cats as they trek past on the fence, they very rarely come in to say hello.
We only ever really had one exception to that, an elderly half-stray Russian Blue-a-like who tried his very best to live in our house and garden for almost 5 years, as he got older and thinner and eventually passed away last year. We think he was about 20 or 21 years old by then.
After a few scraps when Fidget first moved in with us, they signed a peace treaty, and the other cat was allowed to enter the garden and sleep where he liked.
Not so for the rest of them! Fidget is less forgiving of new cats who try to muscle in on the territory. It doesn't help that Fidget is big for a moggy, and out-muscles them all easily. Next door's cat is probably the only one who matches him for size, but Potato isn't anywhere near as strong as Fidget, so loses all the fights. They have an arrangement now, where Potato owns our front garden, but Fidget has the claim over their back garden. It was his before Potato arrived, you see, and he didn't want to give it up.
Whenever new cats arrive, it is always interesting to see how long it is before they learn to stay out of our garden. Some of them get away with more than others, for example the pretty tortie girl (Kira) who moved in behind us is allowed to sleep on the shed roof, and Fidget only chases her, he doesn't hit her. The newest arrivals are still settling in, and working out where they fit in the local cat hierarchy. We believe they live together, as they are very comfortable with each other and are often seen together. I don't know their names, so we have imaginatively nicknamed them "Spotty" and "Fluffy" until we know better.
They were in the yard on Sunday, so we went out to say hello. Tempting them in with cat toys, to see if they wanted to play. Spotty was the most interested, he came in almost immediately.
This isn't a great shot, he was a bit jittery about being so close to us, and wouldn't stay still when he was out in the open like that. I did get some better shots when he was half hidden by the holly bush, though.
A bit overexposed though, the sunlight was very odd, so I think there's too much light on his face and paws, compared to the shadows on the right. I guess I could fix that with Photoshop, if I had the skills.
His fellow, Fluffy, remained quite aloof, sitting on next door's shed and refusing to get involved.
I'm quite impressed with my camera on this one, this was at full zoom, pretty much.
Neither came close enough to be stroked. I think it will be a while yet before they trust us - on Monday afternoon Fidget had Spotty trapped up against the wall of the house and was kicking the crap out of him, lumps of fur flying everywhere. I'm hoping that when Spotty is neutered (we spotted some very obvious balls on Sunday) he will calm down, and there will be less fighting.
Photo of the week though, that honour goes to Spotty, and this lovely shot.
After I uploaded the pics to Flickr, while I decided which one to choose, this is the shot that got the most views, so I guess that means it's the best of the bunch!