Exotic Feline Breeding Compound

Member Articles

How many times have you gone on a field trip or a photo shoot and, after looking at your pictures, wanted to go back and shoot them all over again?

That happens frequently in the early years of most photography careers. It doesn't take long for a person to realize that if someone is really serious about photography they had better learn the basics by going to a photography school, joining a camera club, or doing both.

The reason I bring this up is that Anne and I went on two impromptu field trips this past weekend that sorely tested our photographic skills. Meeting the challenge of each type of shooting situation we encountered, we came home with something worthwhile "in the can."

Dean Webb's invitation we went to the Exotic Feline Breeding Compound on Saturday for an afternoon of shooting pictures of big cats. We were able to choose from 40 assorted captive predators. There were tigers, leopards, jaguars, cougars, bobcats, and lynx's, as well as others. One of them was a borderline endangered species. The compound and cages were clean, the animals were healthy, and the facility was well cared for.

Young ladies with a passion for big cats pamper their charges and are able to pet and scratch them through the wire cage, while cooing "that's a GOOOD Boy." You know how dog trainers do that, right? We thoroughly enjoyed the green grass, tall trees, refreshments and snacks, and had a picnic. But the animals were in the shade, backlit in covered enclosures, behind heavy gauge wire with three inch square openings, and we were held back another four feet by a second fence. If you tried to lean closer, there was a Fence Monitor to politely remind you that that was in "poor form".

Don't forget safety first, these are wild animals, you know?


My first inclination was to take pictures of people and forget the cats. However, I took a couple of pictures of Dean, which I call "Tiger Hunting," and ran out of subjects. I took a bunch more pictures, with lots of wire and cats in them and then tried something I hadn't done before. While looking through the wire squares, I concentrated on the cats at the far end of their enclosures, using the telephoto lens to get sharp close-ups of them in focus in the lens's hyper focal range. The wires near the lens were totally out of focus, and the wire squares were seemingly much larger, allowing several clear pictures without obtrusive wires in them.

The small angle of view at telephoto settings can do several things for you. It not only foreshortens scenes of deserts and mountains, but at close ranges it will sneak through small wire fence openings and sharply limit the in focus range (hyper focal distance) which you can use to advantage in situations like we found at the wild animal compound.

Knowing the relationships between shutter speeds, aperture settings, and hyper focal distances saved the day.

I'll tell you about our reconnaissance trip to Venice Beach at the next meeting. That's going to be a smorgasborg field trip you don't want to miss.



For more information on the next feline event, see Sept. in the calendar section.




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