Photo Talk: Jesse

May 15, 2015  •  Leave a Comment


Jesse | SD1 Merrill + 35mm F1.4 DG HSM Art

(click on photo for larger view)



In December 2014, we lost a kitty named Jelly Bean (JB) that would have turned twenty-four that February. JB had a good life considering she was a bit wild and non-compliant most of the time. When Thomas (son) was three years-old, he picked JB out of a box of free kittens. Family friends were giving away feral kittens at a bluegrass concert in the mountains of Georgia, and we were looking for a kitty for young Thom. JB looked like a perfectly-pointed Burmese, but was of mixed origin. Her mother was named "Hissy Cat" and her father was known as "Water Dog" up in the hills. It became clear early on that JB was wild. I tried talking Thom into swapping her for another kitty from a local pet shop, but he would not have any of that! JB lived a long life and rejoiced in terrifying our dogs. After she passed, I thought I would be relieved since she took a bit of care and I have three elderly dogs to care for as well. But, a week after she was gone, I realized it was the first time in my life I was cat-less. 

As fortune would have it, I had to take one of my dogs to the vet for a check-up the week after JB passed. As I entered the vet's office, I saw a young red tabby in a glass enclosure waiting to be adopted. His name was "Marbles" and he had been adopted-out twice before and brought back. I am partial to red tabbies because of a debonair fur ball named Freddie. Freddie was a red tabby kitten that showed up when I was pregnant with Thomas. He was the only animal that dug under a privacy fence to get into the yard and not out. Initially, Freddie was a sight to see with huge feet and a skinny little body; it was obvious he was born outside and lost his mother too soon.

Freddie grew to be a portly guy as he had an incurable appetite that I attributed to his tough beginning. He was the smartest (aka as "The Professor"), kindest, and most missed pet I have ever had. He was a dog's cat and hung with the pack most of the time instead of the house cats. His proper name was Fredrick James and I swore my heart to red tabbies after having him, so Marbles was about to become a lucky guy. Freddie shared his life with us for seventeen years until he passed-away early one Christmas Eve morning.

I brought Marbles home on Christmas Eve and renamed him Jesse. I also added James for his middle name in memory of Freddie. Jesse has taught me how much I forgot about young cats and what their wild ways can be like; he can make JB look good. My friends tease me saying I like "bad boys" because of naming him Jesse James, and they may be right, but this Jesse James has turned out to be a sweet and affectionate guy! It took a month for Jesse to come out of the bedroom and make friends with the dogs, and when he did, he did it with style and grace. There must be a genetic component regarding red tabbies and lovable dispositions.

Here we see Jesse sitting in the master bathroom's window. I have seen two kitties from the neighborhood sitting nearby making eye contact with him from this perch. This window seems to be his favorite hangout alongside the screen door to the backyard, so I recently installed a kitty window bed for him there. Jesse is a lot like Freddie, he is smart enough to be grateful for his current situation, and knows how to show it.



The camera body used is the Sigma SD1 Merrill with a 35mm f/1.4 Art lens. The exposure was a blend of two, and the average is 1/10 @ f/1.6. The room is naturally shaded and lit by one window which does not receive direct sunlight. The walls are a medium muted green and the mirror does not face the window, but can provide some fill light. I knew a tripod would be necessary and placed it in a very tight spot up against the shower door leaving not much room for camera operation. The tripod was placed in the bathroom earlier so Jess could check it out. A couple hours later, I saw Jesse laying in the window waking up from a nap. All I had to do was grab the camera and hope he would let me take a few shots.

Up to this point, it has been impossible to get an in-focused shot of Jesse. I have tried a few times mostly when he is playing in his cat tree, but without success. Now Jesse was relaxing in the window, but I could tell it would not be for long. Did I mention that Jesse is a very rambunctious guy? I am guessing he was brought back from adoption at least once due to his crazy cat antics, but he is getting better with time. As I got behind the camera, I adjusted the aperture wide open and realized mirror lock-up would be necessary due to slow shutter speeds. I began shooting bracketed exposures and was hoping for one good shot and if it did not happen, well there was always tomorrow. I got lucky as Jesse moved only a few times, but after about fifteen exposures, he was out of there.

In post, I decided the composition looked better as a monochromatic image because it enhances the subdued lighting. I exported the XF3 files from SPP 6 (the slowest RAW processor on the planet) as TIFFS into Lightroom, made adjustments, and then used Silver Efex Pro for the black and white conversion. I felt this image needed to be a bit on the warm side, but not quite sepia toned. I used the sliders in Silver Efex to find what I felt was the best color to depict the mood. I am glad I have gotten at least one decent shot of Jesse. I posted this photo on our vet’s Facebook page and they appear to be pleased with Jesse’s progress as much as I am.


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