For a long time I’ve heard about the threat that free-roaming cats pose to native wildlife. I’ve also seen them roaming in the wild a few times. However, this was my first time ever seeing one that successfully caught a prey.
Way too often, the solution we humans come up with when animals become a nuisance is to kill them. Animals are just being animals and trying to survive. When this cat looked straight into my camera, it felt like s/he stared into my soul, asking me, “What did I do wrong?” The cat was sending a silent message to humans. And the least I could do is to be its voice and spread the message. Maybe…. the message would reach to someone who could come out with a holistic solution to protect our wildlife and save cats’ lives.
Even though I’ve seen more free-roaming cats in the area, this encounter was totally unexpected. The cat was walking in my direction in a protected area where I had no access. To make the situation worse, the cat was close to the fence which constantly blocked my view. To get a powerful shot, I wanted the cat to look at me. I kept adjusting my position as the cat continued to move, hoping s/he would turn its head and look into my direction. Concentration was critical, for I would only have a split second to capture the moment.
The technical stuff
Sony FE 400mm F2.8 GM OSS + 2X Teleconverter
1/800 second at f/5.6, ISO 2500
Elizabeth Yicheng Shen (illustration)
I am an amateur wildlife photographer based in California since 2019. I’ve always had a soft spot for all kinds of animals. What makes wildlife photography meaningful to me is capturing the precious moments of their lives, discovering the untold stories of wildlife, and being the voice of the voiceless.
Before getting into photography, I used to ask myself, in addition to donating, volunteering, or fostering, what else could a super introvert like me do for animals. If animals and Mother Nature could talk, what would they say to us? What would they want us to know? I, therefore, decided that I want to be the voice of the voiceless. Be their voice and tell their stories through my photography. Tin Man Lee has been my mentor in wildlife photography since the end of 2018, and literally taught me everything I need to know when I didn’t even know how to properly operate a camera.
I’m a very new NANPA member, joining in 2021. In the 2022 Showcase, I had one image ranked top 100 and another ranked top 250.
One of the most memorable and meaningful moments I’ve had was when I learned that this shot of a feral cat with a prey won Conservation Best in Category in 2023 NANPA Showcase. This is my first image ever to win in a conservation category. Helping animals through photography was what sparked my interest in photography in the first place. I am humbled and grateful for the recognition.