Learning Something New

About ten years ago, I began to play with photography as something more than just taking snapshots to record events. I began to regard it as a hobby, a skill I wished to improve upon so that others would want to look at my photographs because they were pretty or thought provoking or interesting. Now, I want to be clear, I have not been working on this consistently over the last ten years, but I have, at least intermittently, worked at becoming a better photographer.

I am a much better photographer than I was. Family members and some friends tell me I’m a great photographer. I know better. I take a nice photo, but I’m not even among the top ranked of the amateurs I know (see Neil Schulman, for example, or Aaron Hockley). They are truly amazing photographers. I am at the point where I am willing to call myself a good, but not exceptional, photographer.

As with most photographers with cats, or frankly, people with cats, I take pictures on my cats. They tend to make interesting subjects, and, more relevantly, they’re around (by the way, that also explains why when, during rabbinical school, a class assignment was to work on our “free-form blessings,” I was chasing the cats around trying to get them to sit still for a misheberach–they prefer to be photographed than blessed).

In January, three new cats entered our lives. Two of them are mainly black with a little bit of white. For months, now, I’ve been frustrated by this. Do you know who first decided that black cats are bad luck? I am positive it was the first person who tried to take a portrait of one. Getting black features to appear against a black body is just not something that works well for a camera, whether film or digital.

Today, therefore, is a triumph for me. I finally managed to take some decent shots of the black and white cats. The first photo is of Rosie. The second photo is of her brother, Dancer.

I admit, I may have cheated just a bit in converting the pictures to black and white. And someday, I will succeed in getting a good color picture of the cats, without too much noise showing up in the fur. But for now, I’m feeling quite clever and pleased with myself. I am also very pleased with Rosie and Dancer, who were patient subjects. Nom Nom, who took off the instant I got the camera out, I’m somewhat less pleased by, but I’ll get his photo, too, one of these days.

Sorry, Can’t Lament Now, There’s a Cat on My Lap

I was about to write a really good Tisha B’Av post. I even had something to say that’s different from what I said four years ago or what I said two years ago. But then I ran into a problem. There’s a cat on my lap.

Dancer (who is being renamed to Giles), chose this morning to get on my lap, and hang out with me. For the first time. Ever. And he’s purring. Which leaves me unable to get into a proper lamenting state of mind. Which makes it hard to write a good Tisha B’Av post. Which leaves me explaining to you all why I’m not writing this post, rather than writing it.

Oh well, several days left for me to actually write  a lamenting post.

The Cats of Israel

I suspect that many of you who read my blog know that I am fond of cats. The recent trip to Israel provided a great opportunity for cat watching–and photography. Throughout much of the Mediterranean, street cats are a constant presence, and part of the urban ecosystems. Israel is no exception, and I had some fun with the camera.

This cat and I made our acquaintance in Acre. A friendly sort, he enjoyed conversing and lounging. He was, however, very clear on one point. That was his tree.

Like many of the cats, he was fairly solitary, though there were a few other cats in the neighborhood.

In other places, there were groups of cats hanging out. In Capernum, for example, there was a group of three cats who were a posse. Making themselves at home, in around, under and on top of this bench, they napped and groomed, seeming to enjoy the heat of the day. It was quite warm that day, which made it perfect cat weather.

As with everything else in Jerusalem, the cats of Jerusalem are special. They clearly regard themselves as the guardians of the city, and take that responsibility quite seriously.

Admittedly, there are some who seem a bit more, ah, engaged in the whole watching over everything than others. Case in point: this feline somehow managed to find a soft couch to use as his base of operations. Most other cats in Jerusalem were out and about, whether supervising the Western Wall crowds, as these two kittens were, or stalking the wild discarded pizza, like this leopard-like fellow.

And then, there were the cats who simply sat and supervised, whether amid archaeological ruins or a wall in the old city.

A New Year

It’s been a while since I’ve written. I got about half way through December and realized I hadn’t blogged yet, and decided to take the month off. But now, it’s a new year, and that brings with it all sorts of changes.

For starters, Eva and I  adopted three new cats yesterday. A sibling pair of black cats with white markings, and one brown/gray tabby male. All are about two years old, and have lived together since kittenhood. The names they came with are Diana (f)  and Dancer (m) for the sibling pair, and Classy for the male tabby. Diana, at least, is likely to undergo a name change, since we just had a cat named Diana. To date, Diana is the only one who is actively out and visiting with us, while Classy is hanging out under the couch. For the moment, we aren’t quite sure where Dancer is. (As I type, Diana has become Eva’s laptop).

No photos as of yet because I don’t want to freak them out (any more than they already are), but I assure you, there will be photos.

In far less momentous news, I’ve started the new year by working out each day. The holidays brought me a Wii Fit, and while I’m not fit yet, I’m working on it. As weird as it seems to have a video game leading me through Yoga or fitness training, it does seem to work pretty well for me. On the other hand, we’re only 4 days in.

Any other news will have to wait, because someone wants attention. And what’s the point of having cats if you don’t drop everything to attend to their every whim.