This week the BBC has been showing a three part documentary about cats, called Cat Watch 2014 and presented by the lovely Liz Bonnin. I’ve only seen the first part as I’ve come out to Lanzarote for a short break, however it’s inspired me to do a blog post about the cats of Lanzarote. Anyone who knows me will know it didn’t take much arm-twisting once the inspiration sprang to mind, I’m a cat fan and self-confessed cat whisperer.
I’ve visited the Canary Islands a few times and have come to understand a bit more about the relationship between Canarians and the cat population. Just like back home some cats here are kept as pets. In Lanzarote there can be few cats more spoilt than those owned by Barbarella Buchner, aka The Mad Cat Lady. Not only does Barbarella dote on her cats, she runs a cat photography business, and owns the excellently named thekitti.es web domain. And if that didn’t qualify her for ‘mad’ status then her marriage to her cats surely does. Look here if you don’t believe me!
Sadly not all cats are as lucky as Barbarella’s. There’s a lot of feral and stray cats in Lanzarote which I guess is down to the environment here. The year-round nice warm dry days are ideal for cats. In Playa Blanca where I am right now, many of the strays live amongst the coastal rocks and use them for daytime shade. In the evening when the cats come to life many tourists are around to feed them. Some of the cats are so used to people that they’re quite happy to approach people dining on the sea front, and with a purr and flick of the tale they often get treats.
Some of the locals aren’t too keen on all the cats. I know cats aren’t to everyones taste, and so luckily a charity has been created to help out. 9 Lives Lanzarote runs a neutering programme in an attempt to keep the population under control. The 9 Lives team have also placed a few Cat Cafe’s (feeding stations) around the island, meaning that the cats get fed and watered, but away from the hotel complexes and the like.
If you like the photos in this blog post then please donate to 9 Lives Lanzarote via their donations page. If you’d prefer to dontate to a UK charity then look no further than Cats Protection.
One of the 9 Lives Lanzarote feeding stations, next to the harbour in Playa Blanca.
Some of the stray cats use their cuteness to get food from visitors dining on the seafront.
Being a black cat in the Lanzarote sun means you need to find shade where you can.
The Wax Bar in Playa Blanca loves animals - collection jars for 9 Lives Lanzarote and SARA animal charities.
My favourite photo from this ten, a cute kitty resting between the flowers at the Playa Dorada hotel.
A cat on the picon (volcanic ash).
Not all of the cats liked being disturbed to have their photo taken.
This cat may be a stray, but it looks very happy napping in the sun.
When I first got into ‘serious’ photography I bought a DSLR camera and did a couple of evening class courses run by Oxfordshire County Council Adult Learning. These taught me all the basics at a beginner and then intermediate level. I then signed up for a third course of ten lessons aimed at building a portfolio for an photography exhibition.
The exhibition, called Lightscape, ran over a weekend in June 2010 in Witney, Oxfordshire. My classmates and I did everything to set the event up – from hiring the room to laying on some refreshments. I even did a bit of promotion on the local BBC radio station, being interviewed by the lovely Louisa Hannan.
As part of this course we picked individual themes for our photographs. My theme was ‘Extreme’s of Time’; all the photos I exhibited were take with either a very fast or very slow shutter speed to produce some interesting effects. My photos from the exhibition are below.
A water drop stopped in motion with a very fast shutter speed. Effect was created with a tray of water, some blue card to give the impression of coloured water, some lights, and a lot of photos to get the perfect shot.
I built a sound activated trigger for my camera - upon hearing a sound the shutter would fire.
I went through a few light bulbs to get the shot I wanted.
Here you can see a water balloon ripping and the water still in its shape.
A slow shutter speed was used to capture a merry-go-round with a bit of motion blur to show its movement.
Another long exposure (using an ND filter to keep the light under control) to make the waterfall water go misty.
A long exposure when driving makes the evening lights go into a time warp look.