A Feline and a Bird

Image created on September 12, 2013 at the Singapore Zoo with Canon EOS-5D Mark III and Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS. ISO 250, f/2.8, 1/160s, Evaluative metering + 2/3 EV.

As the last few posts have been about birds, I felt that some felines would be in order today… Even as I like all forms of wildlife, as anybody else I have my preferences. Regular readers know that I have a bias in favour of all felines — even if I have cat allergies — and primates. As a side note it pleases me both that Apple opted to name its Mac OS X major releases after big cats, but it sadden me that after listing all big cats they had to depart from this habit, and that the Hyena has now rejoined the feline family (well technically the hyena forms its own family which is a member of the Feliformia suborder, thus making the hyena rather a cousin of all cats, small and big) so there is even another big cat.

Cheetah 4 (Master)

Image created with Canon EOS-5D Mark III and Canon EF 300mm f/2.8L IS. ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/160s, Evaluative metering.

I recently visited the Singapore Zoo in order to spot a Blue-eared Kingfisher reported earlier, I was unsuccessful the first time but I still had the opportunity to tour the zoo and I could catch the Cheetah being a little more than sleepy in a corner of their enclosure. Thus I selected a few and looked back into my collection digging another interesting image of a cheetah created much earlier. The Singapore Zoo used to have 3 cheetahs, unfortunately one passed away at end 2012 and I understand from keepers that the zoo is struggling to find another pair, especially a breeding pair, of these beautiful animals which are seriously endangered as they fail to reproduce at a sufficient pace in the wild and captive births, with cub’s survival, are extremely rare. Given the choice between keeping animals in the wild or having captive animals in a zoo, it is obvious to me that I would go to keep them in the wild. However, as the Singapore Zoo is strongly involved, and successful at that, into conservation, I feel that it would be great if they were given the chance to have a pair of breeding animals to contribute conserving one of the most elegant carnivore there is.

Cheetah 2 (Master)

Image created on September 27, 2009 at the Singapore Zoo with Canon EOS-1D Mark III and Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS at 400mm. ISO 400, f/6.3, 1/320s, Evaluative metering

At the occasion of looking back in time in my collection, I found an old image also taken at the zoo, this time of a Common Kingfisher (I initially thought of a Blue-eared Kingfisher but its turquoise colour is closer to one of a Common Kingfisher, though I have been known to be wrong in the recent past). I must honestly admit that at the time of the capture, I probably knew that it was a kingfisher but I definitely hadn’t the knowledge of its species.At the time I was operating on the simple mode “it’s a nice looking animal, let’s go for it!” without digging more. I found it funny at a time when another species of Kingfisher is so popular at the Singapore Zoo (you can check here and here) to humbly realise how much progress one can make in getting familiar with birds over a short period of time.

Common Kingfisher (Master)

Common Kingfisher, image created on January 6, 2008 at the Singapore Zoo with a Canon EOS 20D and Canon EF 100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS at 400mm. ISO 400, f/5.6, 1/100s, Evaluative metering -1/3 EV.

Not so long ago I was mostly interested into animal photography because of its challenges and the inherent beauty of animals, not having much hope to really learn much about animals and even less to recognise or having the patience to stalk them in the wild. It all looked like an impossible objective in a life too busy with work. Today I still have much more the learn than what I learned in the last few months but the last 6 months have shown me that it is indeed possible and very satisfying. I would encourage all tempted photographers to really go for it, become good birders, become good hunters, get to know your subjects. Even with fulfilling and/or busy professional life, it is still an achievable goal, I know plenty of professionals who have the organisation to work the whole day and enjoy an hour of photography every day before sunset. While it might seem intimidating at first, it does not require such a huge effort to make progress.


A Feline and a BirdChristian C. Berclaz

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