Cat Pictures


When photographing Tigers in captivity, (I happened to be at the Oakland Zoo),  it's important to know a little about their behaviors in order to capture them the way you had in mind.  Big cat behaviors are easy to learn,  just observe the cat you have sitting on the couch next to you.  Big cats and little cats mostly do the same things.  They look for the warm spot in the sunlight, they stretch, and they yawn among other things.   All of these behaviors can make fantastic photographs, you just have to be patient watch, and look for repeating animal behaviors. 


Like their cousin the house cat, the Tiger will roll around in their enclosure and occasionally they will stop and freeze still for a moment. This is a good time to capture an image, since you know the Tiger will be sharp and in focus, especially nessasary if shot with a slow shutter speed. 


Even at several hundred pounds, the Tiger can sometimes appear kitten like while stretching and rolling around. 


One behavior that the Tiger does, that I have not seen a domestic cat do, is "flehmen".   Upon smelling another Tiger's scent, the big cat wrinkles his nose and hangs out his tongue in a grimace called flehmen.  This move is a way to gather in all of the scent so they can and send it to the roof of their mouth where there is a gland to determine all the chemical information inside the scent.  Scenting and scent marking is a way Tigers communicate thier boundaries, mate readiness and to acertian if a friend or foe is in the area.  Before the tongue comes out, it's a pretty fierce look and makes a fabulous photograph. 

I noticed one female mark an area along a fence.  Shortly after, I saw another female start to walk the perimeter of the enclosure. I knew she'd notice the fresh marking and I thought she might make the "face."  With things like this, you get yourself and camera into position, check and double check your settings and just wait.  

In wildlife photography, the more you know about what animal you are photographing the better your odds are of getting superb photographs.

Copyright 2015, Terry VanderHeiden