Backyard Photos of the Mouser

I love the early morning directional light in my yard.

The sun’s rays creeps over the regulation 6-foot neighbor’s fence (now more like 8 feet with the overgrown hedge) and it just kisses my old beat-up picnic table.

Natural lighting or is it?–The Great Mouser with her half-eaten prize was lit by my Canon 580EX Speedlite set on the ground on the left. The distance from flash-to-subject was about 3 feet. The flash was set on Manual @ 1/64th power to give me f2 for ISO 100. I wanted a shallow depth-of-field since I didn’t want the green shrubbery in the foreground to be sharp. Here’s a wider view showing the placement of my Speedlite 580EX.

Because of the extreme angle, much of the clutter and distractions are still in shadow in the early morning hours.

The overall scene–Here’s what the backyard looks like early in the morning. There’s the yellow “Slow, kids at Play sign” and the blue water dish on the right

I’ve always believed that there is no substitute to using the camera often to gain familiarity for beginners and to stay sharp maintaining your camera handling skills for seasoned pros.

Since my morning chore now includes feeding the yet-to-be-named stray, I figured I’ll kill 2 birds with one stone.

Before I went outside this morning, I grabbed my camera with the 50 mm lens, my Canon Speedlite 580EX and the STE-2 transmitter.

Normally I would reach for my Cybersync radio slaves but in this instance I didn’t want to be restricted to a maximum shutter speed sync of 1/250 sec, so I opted for the STE-2 transmitter.

My plan assuming I get a cooperative subject:

  • Set up the flash aim it on the table
  • Take an ambient light reading with my subject “nameless cat” backlit. 1/2500 f2 @ ISO 100.
  • Figure out the flash-to-subject to give me f1.4. In this case 1/64th power
  • Place catfood on the table.
  • Sit back and wait for the star to arrive

My preferred angle, backlighting–“She-who-has-yet-to-be-named” was cooperative for a few pictures. Notice how dramatic this picture looks because “she” stands out from the background. Those blue-eyes are one reason, I’m sure. I didn’t even have to do any post-production in photoshop to the background. All I did was dodge or lighten her face and a little bit of her body.

As it turns out she had her own ideas.

“Who was I to think I could count on her just because I have breakfast ready 1st thing in the morning?”

She kept jumping off and rubbing up against my legs.

So I abandoned that idea when it was obvious she was more interested in something else in my yard.

She started tossing something in the air.

It wasn’t until I got closer when I saw it was a half-eaten mouse.

I tried to get a shot of this but it was practically impossible.

Excuses, excuses I know.

There was no way to tell where and when she was going to flick that carcass.

Leaving the scene–She tolerated my 580EX Speedlite placed on the ground next to her. Fortunately the flash didn’t freak her out. I had to coax her a little by moving her “prize–the half-eaten carcass” close to my Speedlite since I didn’t want to have to constantly re-figure out what aperture to set.

Even though it’s out-of-focus, I wanted you to see what I missed.

Then there was the matter of the extreme contrast.

By the time I put the Speedlite 580 EX in position, she was gone.

As with my previous post about Wild Kingdom in the Phun Kingdom, sometimes you don’t have to leave the house to find a reason to use your camera.

Unusual stuff happens nearby.

You just have to overcome that inertia and pick up your camera.

In my case, it’s a great way to stay sharp and in practice.

Oh, the Great Mouser swallowed the entire mouse tail and all.

From where I was, it sounded very crunchy.

4 thoughts on “Backyard Photos of the Mouser”

  1. Bobee,
    GM sounds okay I suppose. I’m hoping my daughter will come up with something soon.

    We have opposums, raccoons, skunks and even coyotes (sometimes) Of the 3, the coyotes are the ones that are the most dangerous to the cats.

    But thankfully, the backyards is secure with a fence that they can’t get in. Great to hear from you as usual. Thanks

  2. Hi Peter,

    You just inadvertently named the cat- Great Mouser (GM)? Then may be not.
    What other animals can one encounter in a typical South California backyard?
    Amazing clear photos and very willing and proud ‘Model’.

  3. Sarah,
    Thanks for stopping by and leaving a comment. I’m quite surprised at the size of that rat. It wasn’t a mouse for sure. The tail or what was left of it looked big.

    At least we found the carcass outdoors. Imagine if it was indoors some place!.

  4. Nice discovery Peter. I just got done cleaning up a half eaten one in my yard from my cat. Grosses me out! He’s left us plenty of suprises, right on the doormat. I think he loves us so much he wants to share 🙂 Have a good one!

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