Tag Archive for ghost

The Nature Lesson

My children received a first-hand view of nature in action today.

I was in the middle of my lifting when my son ran into my office, excited because the cat had caught a bird. I told him to take the body out into the corn field, like we have with the other birds we’ve found on the porch.

“No, he just caught the bird now, and it’s still alive!”

I grabbed the camera and we ran outside. I thought the bird might chase him off and I’d get a few pictures. The cat’s not quite a year old, and he barely touched a mouse we caught in a trap once. I half wondered if the birds we’d been finding actually belonged to some of the other cats who prowl near the house, cats we hear Ghost fighting with from time to time.

Instead, I discovered Ghost had broken the bird’s wing and bit a hole in its back. I moved in to put the bird out of its misery, but it still had some fight left in it and it hopped away. That’s when Ghost pounced one more time and finished it off.

The kids watched as the cat settled in for supper.

Ghost's Kill

The kids' lesson in natural selection.

I thought the kids might be upset, but they handled it well. They asked a few questions, and they kept their distance until the cat wandered off. Then the two boys took the bird’s body out to the field. They didn’t play with it, or kick it around, or chase their sister with it, they just scooped it up with the shovel and disposed of it.

I think I felt bad for the bird more than they did. Nature is rarely gentle, though, and cats get hungry. Cats know their place in the food chain, and so do we. It was a safe way for the kids to observe in person the kinds of things they’ve been watching on nature shows on Netflix. It wasn’t bloodsport, it was just… nature.

Ghost

Less than a year ago, he looked like this

It amazes me how instinct takes over. Ghost was only five or six weeks old when we adopted him, and he didn’t spend a lot of time outdoors until this Spring. He had no mother cat around to raise him, so I don’t think he was ever taught to hunt. He just does it, and now we know those other birds belonged to him after all. We adopted him with the hope he’d become a mouser, and I guess birds come with the package.

Yet he’s gentle as can be with the kids, and he is very patient with other, smaller children who have visited and put their hands all over him. A friendly family pet one moment, a vicious predator the next. Maybe he just got tired of dry cat food.

Of course, he didn’t eat much of the bird. He ate some of the meat off its back and gave up.

I said “Hey Ghost, you didn’t even finish that bird. Why’d you kill it?”

He looked up at me with a lazy blink as if to say “Because fuck that bird, that’s why.” Then he curled up on the couch for a nap.

Damn. I hope I don’t forget to change his litter.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: Ghost Will End You

This week I dragged my feet and defaulted to a simple subject: the cat.

Ghost Will End You

"Get that camera out of my face, or I will end you."

His name’s Ghost, but he also answers to Douchebag.

For those who care about such things: Canon kit lens, SpeedLite flash bounced off the ceiling.

On a separate photography note, I’ve been using my BlackRapid camera strap a lot, and I dig the hell out of it. I’ll let the manufacturer explain the concept:

I wore it all day while walking around Sundance, and my camera was always accessible and never got in my way. I slung the camera low near my hip wore my shirt and jacket over the strap, which made it very comfortable. Most of the time I didn’t even know it was there. With both bumpers to lock the camera in place, I could crouch down to pick things up and the camera wouldn’t fall or dangle in front of me.

So far, the RS-7 is the single best investment I’ve made in my camera kit. It’s not cheap, but it’s well worth it for what it does.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: Black & White

I needed to shoot an author photo for an upcoming magazine appearance, and while I had the camera in hand I shot a few extra pics. I decided to throw three photos at you this week to make up for slacking last week.

First, as I walked out of my office, I spotted the Wife in the bedroom resting her eyes. I was only teasing her with the camera, but I decided I liked this shot and I kept it.

Naptime

She's smiling because she's picturing where she's going to stick the camera

I had my 50mm prime lens for this one, and I was backed against the wall, so I expected to be too close. Instead, it’s just about right for a tight portrait. She was also in darkness; my external SpeedLite lit the scene nicely.

Then I got to business shooting the author photo. I didn’t like the way the 50mm was working out, mostly because I was too close and I still haven’t picked up a remote. I put the 18-55mm kit lens on and fired away, and decided on this one after some cropping.

Bio Photo

Damn, this means I have to write a bio, too

It’s for a noir magazine, so I didn’t see much point in smiling. I thought about darkening it a little, but they print in black & white and I didn’t want it to reproduce too dark on the page.

Finally, our cat Ghost was stalking my feet, so I dropped the camera down to his level and snapped this off:

Ghost Ambushed

Ambush!

I think the camera decided to focus on his right side rather than his face, so I did some fiddling with the clarity slider in Lightroom. I still used the SpeedLite flash for this, but I used a direct flash; in the other two photos I bounced the flash off the ceiling.

I set out to do black & white for the author photo, but ultimately decided to go black & white for all of them. The colors in our house aren’t bad in daylight, but flash plays funny games with them, so the cat pic went B&W to cover most of that up. The Wife’s pic had a pleasant feel in color, but I also liked the softness of the B&W and decided that was the theme for the week. Maybe I’ll post the color, too, for comparison. If she doesn’t kill me first, that is.

I hope B&W isn’t becoming a crutch for me, but for a lot of the interior shots I’ve been doing it just works. I’m going to need to spend some time the rest of this year getting outside and shooting to get some color into the collection.

Update: Okay, I posted the color version of the Wife’s photo. It’s unedited except for a small blemish correction.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Photo Friday: Ghost

This week’s Photo Friday subject is our new kitten, Ghost:

Ghost

Naptime!

After our last cat was hit by a car last weekend, we thought it would be appropriate to rescue a kitten from an animal control facility. This little guy was part of a litter of five gray tabby cats, and one of many kittens up for adoption there. It’s not a no-kill shelter, so I hope his brothers and sisters find homes soon.

Sure, he’s cute now, but he’ll grow up to be a cat. And then he’ll have a job to do: kill the field mice before they can get into the house once harvest season starts. He may be a little small yet this fall, but next year he should be ready to go.

I used my long telephoto to capture the pic as he napped on the edge of the couch beside my middle son, mostly because I didn’t want to spook him. I zoomed to 96mm and let the camera handle the rest. No flash, no crop, just a B&W switch and a little bit of vignetting in post.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.