Rocky RAW

portrait by paul ottaviano

In this corner we have a super mini-mini-flyweight from Hillsboro, Oregon. He is the dance and prance bruiser, the tiger unleashed, and the next champion of the world!

Actually, he is one of the nicest five year old boys you would ever meet and was a rock star in front of the camera. Mr. Luke, as I call him, likes soccer and football best but was open minded enough to try on my boxing gloves. Mr. Luke is not a boxer, but he really didn’t need any direction from me. Once the gloves were on, he went right into his Rocky and Apollo Creed routine. Once the gloves came off, he posed with stuffed animals and his baby sister. Mr. Luke, for lack of a better word, was awesome.

Precious

photo of Precious the cat

When Precious arrived at the Oregon Humane Society, she was known as Monkey. Her current owners had kept her in the garage full time, never groomed her, and had a healthy disdain for her. Her beautiful hair had become so matted that it had to be shaved off entirely, and the description by the owners listed a slew of negative adjectives.

But like all animals – people and cats alike – companionship and environment matter. Precious needed a home that fit her; she needed an owner that met her strong personality with love and understanding. And she found just that five minutes after being placed out on the floor, so-to-speak, when Micki Naito immediately asked to see her. They’ve been happy roommates ever since.

Precious the cat now
Remind you of a comic strip character? Too cute.

Precious does not like to be touched, but other than that, she is very personable and curious. Most cats don’t take kindly to orders, so I just tried to make her comfortable with me and my camera. For example, I sat on the couch and let her come to me. Micki’s house has huge windows, bathing the room in natural light, so I thought it best to use that for Precious’ portraits.

The two photos you see of her were shot at f/1.8. This was for shallow depth-of-field and to use Micki’s couch as an easy backdrop. My goal was to focus on Precious’ incredible eyes and hopefully to have catch lights reflecting in them. Shooting at this aperture gave me the opportunity to use fast shutter speeds with just window light and a silver reflector.

How did Precious hold still for the camera? Well, she really didn’t. I used my auto-focus beep to get her attention and have her look towards the light. At that moment I was ready to press the shutter button. As you know, cats are unlike dogs and don’t respond to calls, so if the auto-focus beep worked then I went with it. Flexibility in your approach is important with pets, and for cats in particular.

I had a wonderful time with Micki and Precious and their story is, from what I experience, very typical when good people adopt animals. Pets are great to have and if you’re a photographer please consider volunteering your photo skills for a local animal shelter.