Category Archives: Pets

Pet Posts: One page to organize them all

I write a lot of blog posts about pets. Most of them focus on my own two cats in one way or another, but I also do volunteer work for local animal groups. In this post I’ll maintain a list of my pet-related posts.

Cats

A closeup of the green eye of a blue patched tabby and white shorthair house cat.  The depth of field is a bit shallow, but a large portion of her eye and the fur around her eye are in focus. (Marc C. Perkins)
Cat eyes on a Friday

Kira, a brown tabby, relaxing on a shelf next to a brick wall.  I love how she looks mildly inquirous while also looking serenly peaceful and comfortable.  She's also got her paws cutely folded up underneath her.  How cat like! (Marc C. Perkins)
Support a good cause, if you so desire

This is a crop of the "Cat tongue closeup: 3/4 view" image, focusing on the tongue.  The original image is a closeup of a cat's tongue from a three-quarters angle as the cat licks a sheepskin rug.  Numerous barbs (spines; filiform papillae) are clearly visible across the width of the tongue.  The papillae are largest in the middle of the tongue, and get progressive smaller towards the edges of the tongue.  The three-quarters angle allows the viewer to better see the height of the barbs.  See the uncropped version of this image for more context. (Marc C. Perkins)
Cat anatomy: the barbed tongue

A closeup of Lucca's hind paw, with her beautiful green eye and nose staring at you from the background in soft focus.  Her paw pad leathers are multicolored because she's a dilute caliby (blue patched tabby and white), so the leathers are patterned just like the rest of her is.  The leathers are a mix of two colors: blue (dilute black) and pink/rose.  The texturing on the pads is also visible; it's like she's got all-terrain tire treads on her paws :) (Marc C. Perkins)
Cat pictures to start the week

Lucca munches on newly germinated (and nibbled on) oat grass (tack oats; Avena sativa). (Marc C. Perkins)
My cats eat grass

Lucca shows off her third eyelid in this sequence of four photographs taken just after she woke up from a nap.  The third eyelid (nictitating membrane or palpebra tertia) is a thin white membrane that slides horizontally across the eye underneath the outer two eyelids.  Humans lack this third eyelid, but most other vertebrates have it.  Lucca here is simultaneously stretching, yawning, and opening her eyes.  In the first image her eyes are completely closed, in the second image her outer two eyelids are partially open, but the nictitating membrane is still entirely covering the eye, in the third image the outer two eyelids are almost entirely open and the nictitating membrane is about half covering the eye, and in the fourth image all three eyelids are fully open. (Marc C. Perkins)
Cat anatomy: the third eyelid

Lucca looking decidedly unimpressed.  This picture reminds me of a typical LOLCat image (e.g., http://icanhascheezburger.com); I think the caption would be something like "Unimpressed cat is unimpressed", "Meh", or "Is it really Monday already?".  But, sadly, I won't be submitting it to that website, as their terms of service for uploaded images give them way too many rights for free (http://corp.cheezburger.com/legal/terms-of-service/). (Marc C. Perkins)
Unimpressed cat is unimpressed

Cats (and other pets) up for adoption

Oliver, a two year old male short-haired brown tabby and white cat, sniffs the corner of a cat cage at a rescue shelter.  Oliver likes to climb on top of the cages and explore who is in each one.  Oliver is a sweet cat who needs a home with no dogs and no kids.  Oliver is up for adoption at Miss Kitty's Rescue in Costa Mesa, CA.  This picture was taken pro bono for Miss Kitty's Rescue to help them advertise the cats for adoption. (Marc C. Perkins)
Cats up for adoption in Orange County, CA
at Miss Kitty’s Rescue.

Beauty, a black female terrier / pit bull. (Marc C. Perkins)
Photographing animals at the Newport Beach Animal Shelter

Mice

A gray male pet mouse jumps up on the side of a clear plastic cage and holds himself up by his front paws, peering over the edge into the vast unknown beyond the cage.  I love the cute little paws holding onto the edge.  I also like how the whiskers are fully three-dimensional: you can see how they extend around the face in all directions - front, back, top, bottom, and sides. (Marc C. Perkins)
Photographing mice: the adorableness is overwhelming!

Portfolio

Athena, a torbie and white (or caliby) female domestic shorthair cat.  7084. (Marc C. Perkins)
Pets Portfolio

Support a good cause, if you so desire

I’ve just entered two pictures into the Humane Society’s World Spay Day photo contest.

Kira, a brown tabby, relaxing on a shelf next to a brick wall.  I love how she looks mildly inquirous while also looking serenly peaceful and comfortable.  She's also got her paws cutely folded up underneath her.  How cat like! (Marc C. Perkins)
Listening Cat is Happy to Hear About Your Problems
Lucca looking decidedly unimpressed.  This picture reminds me of a typical LOLCat image (e.g., http://icanhascheezburger.com); I think the caption would be something like "Unimpressed cat is unimpressed", "Meh", or "Is it really Monday already?".  But, sadly, I won't be submitting it to that website, as their terms of service for uploaded images give them way too many rights for free (http://corp.cheezburger.com/legal/terms-of-service/). (Marc C. Perkins)
Unimpressed Cat is Unimpressed

I personally donate to the Humane Society, and am happy to help a good cause. As such, in addition to entering my images into their judged category, I’ve also entered them into their “fundraiser” competition. In this competition the entries compete for votes, which can be obtained by donating to the Humane Society:

“Kira”

Vote

“Lucca”

Vote

There’s no way I can win the fundraiser category, and I don’t want to try1. Instead, I want to use this as an opportunity to give you an excuse to donate a little something to a worthy cause. And, just to reinforce the idea that I’m not in this for the fundraiser competition prize, if I do somehow win I’ll donate the prize (an iPad 2 and iPod) to the Orange Coast College Disabled Students Center.

The contest ends February 29 at 10:00pm EST, so donate before then if you desire (by following the links above).

1 Votes are tallied per individual picture, not per photographer. So, by posting two pictures I’m possibly splitting any votes I get. But this way you get to vote for your favorite of my two cats!

More pictures

To see more of my cat pictures, head to my Cats Gallery, my Cat Closeups Gallery, or my Cat Tongue Closeups Gallery.

Cat eyes on a Friday

Last weekend I got a few more pictures of my cats, this time focusing on the eye (as opposed to the tongue or third eyelid). Lucca was a great model with her beautiful green eyes and blue patched tabby and white fur:

A closeup of Lucca, a blue patched tabby and white shorthair house cat, looking up at something exciting.  I like her attentive, alert expression that shows off her cute "old rose" nose and her bright green eyes.  The fur on the top of her nose is also in sharp focus, showing off the different directions it lays.  The background is off white, and out of focus. (Marc C. Perkins)
What's up there?
This vertically-cropped image is a closeup of a blue patched tabby and white domestic shorthair cat's face, focusing on the eye.  I don't take too many vertical images of my cats up close, and often don't like them, but this is an exception. (Marc C. Perkins)
Vertical eye closeup: I don't take too many vertical images of my cats up close; this is a happy exception.
A closeup of the green eye of a blue patched tabby and white shorthair house cat.  The depth of field is a bit shallow, but a large portion of her eye and the fur around her eye are in focus. (Marc C. Perkins)
Eye closeup: looking in or looking out?

The first one makes a great desktop background (and no, I’m not biased at all …); in fact, I can see Lucca’s nose and whiskers poking out just to the right of the window I’m writing this in ūüôā

Have a great weekend!

More pictures

To see more of my cat pictures, head to my Cats Gallery, my Cat Closeups Gallery, or my Cat Tongue Closeups Gallery.

Cat anatomy: the barbed tongue

I recently found myself sorting through a folder that contained a few dozen pictures of my cats in various poses, the sole consistent element being that they were sticking their tongues out at me. How this came to be started with this image:

Lucca closes her eyes as she licks her paw, showing off dozens of her tongue barbs (filiform papillae). I love cats cleaning themselves! (Marc C. Perkins)

I was sitting in my living room watching Lucca clean herself, as cats do, and I took a few pictures of her, as I do. But when I processed the images and saw her tongue in this one, I was entranced. I’d always known that cats have barbed tongues, but knowing something and seeing it are two different things. I then set about to get a few good images of cat tongues, and the above-mentioned folder of dozens of tongue-sticking-out images resulted.1

When cats clean themselves, their tongues are typically out for far too short of a time to see the barbs in any detail with the naked eye (at least not with my eyesight). And the tip of the tongue, which is the most likely part of their tongue a human will see, actually has no long barbs, as Kira kindly demonstrates in this picture:

Kira, a brown tabby, licking Lucca, a blue patched tabby and white. Only the tip of Kira's tongue is out, showing how the tip of a cat's tongue is lacking in the large barbs (filiform papillae). However, a few small ones can be seen on the tongue near her mouth. (Marc C. Perkins)

Getting tongue pictures showing the barbs was not trivial2, but for those of you looking for closeups of cats naturally licking, here are three closeups showing a front, three-quarters, and side angle:

A closeup of a cat's tongue from straight-on as the cat licks a sheepskin rug. Numerous barbs (spines; filiform papillae) are clearly visible across the width of the tongue. The papillae are largest in the middle of the tongue, and get progressive smaller towards the edges of the tongue. See the cropped version of this image for more detail on the tongue. (Marc C. Perkins)

A closeup of a cat's tongue from a three-quarters angle as the cat licks a sheepskin rug. Numerous barbs (spines; filiform papillae) are clearly visible across the width of the tongue. The papillae are largest in the middle of the tongue, and get progressive smaller towards the edges of the tongue. The three-quarters angle allows the viewer to better see the height of the barbs. See the cropped version of this image for more detail on the tongue. (Marc C. Perkins)

A closeup of a cat's tongue from a side view as the cat licks her paw (with a single claw and pads visible). Numerous barbs (spines; filiform papillae) are clearly visible across the top surface of the tongue. this side view emphasizes the height of the barbs (the largest are almost half the thickness of the tongue), and shows that they're angled back only slightly. See the cropped version of this image for more detail on the tongue. (Marc C. Perkins)

The barbs or spines are called filiform papillae. They’re opaque, hardened with keratin, and arise from widened bases that cover the tongue. The barbs are longer in the center of the tongue, and slowly get shorter towards the sides and front. These are what makes a cat’s tongue feel rough, like sandpaper, when it licks you.

The details on barbs may be a bit tough to see in those pictures, since they’re all essentially uncropped (to show context); but here’s what you really came for: closeups of the tongue focusing on the papillae3.

This is a crop of the "Cat tongue closeup: front view" image, focusing on the tongue. The original image is a closeup of a cat's tongue from straight-on as she licks a sheepskin rug. Numerous barbs (spines; filiform papillae) are clearly visible across the width of the tongue. The papillae are largest in the middle of the tongue, and get progressive smaller towards the edges of the tongue. (Marc C. Perkins)

This is a crop of the "Cat tongue closeup: 3/4 view" image, focusing on the tongue. The original image is a closeup of a cat's tongue from a three-quarters angle as the cat licks a sheepskin rug. Numerous barbs (spines; filiform papillae) are clearly visible across the width of the tongue. The papillae are largest in the middle of the tongue, and get progressive smaller towards the edges of the tongue. The three-quarters angle allows the viewer to better see the height of the barbs. See the uncropped version of this image for more context. (Marc C. Perkins)

This is a crop of the "Cat tongue closeup: side view" image, focusing on the tongue. The original image was a closeup of a cat's tongue from a side view as the cat licks her paw . Numerous barbs (spines; filiform papillae) are clearly visible across the top surface of the tongue, and additional papillae (fungiform papillae) are visible on the side and bottom of the tongue. This side view emphasizes the height at attachment of the barbs (the largest are almost half the thickness of the tongue), and shows that they're angled back only slightly. This is also one of the few images I've seen showing the back of a cat's tongue in a natural position. See the uncropped version of this image for more context. (Marc C. Perkins)

Friendly cats often groom each other, and so I absolutely have to include a picture of Lucca cleaning Kira while showing off her tongue barbs:

Lucca, a blue patched tabby and white cat, licks Kira, a brown tabby. I love it when cats curl up together on a couch and groom each other! Lucca's eyes are closed while her tongue is extended, which clearly shows the filiform papillae (spines or barbs) on the top surface of the tongue. Her nose, whiskers, fur, and closed eyes are also clearly in focus. (Marc C. Perkins)

And I can’t resist ending with a silly picture of Kira looking cross-eyed as she cleans her front paw:

Kira, a brown tabby, grooms her front paw, which is curled over super-cutely. I love this image because of Kira's wacky expression: she looks almost cross-eyed, and almost seems to be sticking her tongue out at the camera. Instead, she's just licking her front paw, which is folded back towards her face, showing you the very dense concentration of filiform papillae (barbs or spines) on her tongue. (Marc C. Perkins)

1 Try looking at 40-odd pictures of someone sticking their tongue out at you; it’s an odd experience.
2 It helps that Lucca goes through phases where she licks a sheepskin rug regularly.
3 Yes, these three tongue closeups are indeed just crops of the pictures above.  Have I mentioned how much I love my Canon 60mm macro lens, and just how insanely sharp it is?

More pictures

To see more pictures focusing on cat tongues, head to my Cat Tongue Closeups Gallery. To see more of my general cat pictures, head to my Cats Gallery or my Cat Closeups Gallery.

 

[Update: Two of these images were used to illustrate an article in the Journal of Feline Medicine and Surgery; read more about that here.]

My 11 favorite pictures of 2011

It’s the end of the year, and that means that it’s time to make “best of 2011” lists. ¬†This blog will be no exception.

This year was a year of exploration for me, thanks mainly to my good friend Greg (of Alpenglow Images; he¬†just posted his own top 12 of 2011), who inspired me to push my boundaries photographically, as well as to start sharing my photography online. ¬†But it’s far too easy to ramble on in posts like this. So, here are my 11 favorite images from 2011 (with many thanks to Michael Russell¬†and¬†Mike Cavaroc¬†for inspiring this with their own posts earlier this week).

First, my top three:

Closeup of flower buds on the Agave vilmoriniana inflorescence. (Marc Perkins)
The Future, from my Agave and Aloe series (1 | 2).

I woke up to a foggy morning at Lower Moro campground in Crystal Cove, and found this beautiful little purple and white flower covered in dew.  I love the few strands of spider silk connecting the flower to its stalk, also covered in water droplets.  A botanist friend of mine identified this as _Stephanomeria sp._, a plant in Asteraceae. (Thanks Jeremy!) (Marc C. Perkins)
Foggy Morning Sunshine, from my Crystal Cove State Park series (1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6).

Kira, a brown tabby, relaxing on a shelf next to a brick wall.  I love how she looks mildly inquirous while also looking serenly peaceful and comfortable.  She's also got her paws cutely folded up underneath her.  How cat like! (Marc C. Perkins)
Listening Cat is Happy to Hear About Your Problems – 2 (aka: Kira relaxing), from my cat galleries (1 | 2).

And now for the rest:

Sunset at Corona Del Mar State Beach, seen from a lookout above the beach at Inspiration Point.  I love how the wet beach sand looks golden / silver in color.  Three silhouetted figures stand in the foreground (a photographer, lighting assistant, and girl having quinceanera pictures taken of her in a fancy dress). (Marc C. Perkins)
Metallic Beach, from my Inspiration Point and Corona Del Mar gallery; taken at Inspiration Point in Newport Beach, CA.

Nauset Light at dusk on a cloudy winter night shortly after Christmas.  The light streams out to sea, visible thanks to a light mist in the air.  This image is far better viewed on a solid black background, so the glow of the sky is more visible.  Nauset light is in Eastham, MA on Cape Cod. (Marc Perkins)
A Light in the Dark (aka: Nauset Light at dusk), from an unpublished gallery. Taken in Eastham, MA shortly after Christmas 2010.

Mohammed (Marc C. Perkins)
Mohammed, from my 24 Faces of Occupy Irvine series.

Lucca looking decidedly unimpressed.  This picture reminds me of a typical LOLCat image (e.g., http://icanhascheezburger.com); I think the caption would be something like "Unimpressed cat is unimpressed", "Meh", or "Is it really Monday already?".  But, sadly, I won't be submitting it to that website, as their terms of service for uploaded images give them way too many rights for free (http://corp.cheezburger.com/legal/terms-of-service/). (Marc C. Perkins)
Unimpressed Cat is Unimpressed, from my cat galleries (1 | 2).

Nobska Lighthouse in Woods Hole, MA on Cape Cod.  The red-roofed keeper's house and white and black lighthouse are both visible, as the wind blows the flags in front of a clear blue sky. I love how the lighthouse feels like it standing proud; a little bit of Americana.  This image is cropped to be printed at 12x18". (Marc Perkins)
Nobska Light: Classic Americana, from an unpublished gallery. Taken in Woods Hole, MA.

A closeup of a poinsettia flower cluster from the side.  Many people confuse the bracts (red leaves) with the actual flowers; they're quite different.   This macro shot shows multiple pseudanthia  (flowering structures) surrounded by a sea of red bracts (colored leaves associated with a flower; mostly out of focus in this picture).  The flowers themselves are called cyanthia; the green tissue surrounding each flower is an involucre, a cluster of bracts (leaves) fused into a cup-shaped structure that contains multiple male flowers and one female flower within it.  Emerging from the involucre you can see red filaments supporting yellow anthers on the male flowers, and you can even see some of the pollen grains.  Also emerging from each involucre you can see a number of dark-purple structures supported by short stalks (that are about a tenth of the height of the filaments).   The bright yellow, liquid-filled structures attached to the involucre are nectar glands filled with nectar to attract pollinators. (Marc C. Perkins)
Poinsettia Inflorescence Extreme Closeup, from my poinsettia series (1 | 2). Taken at Orange Coast College’s Ornamental Horticulture Department.

A large agave inflorescence that's still growing seen at the entrance to Little Corona beach in Corona Del Mar (Newport Beach), CA just before sunset.  The distinctive arch rock of Little Corona is visible in the ocean in the background. (Marc C. Perkins)
Agave Inflorescence at the Beach 2, from my Little Corona Agave post. Taken in Corona Del Mar (Newport Beach), CA.

A vertical view of the arch rock offshore at Little Corona after sunset, in black and white using a long exposure to make the ocean water silky smooth.  I love the soft curves of the clouds drifting overhead. (Marc C. Perkins)
Vertical Arch Rock and Clouds, from my Little Corona long exposure series (1 | 2). Taken at Robert E Badham Marine Life Refuge in Corona Del Mar (Newport Beach), CA.

Those are my top 11 pictures of the year!

As an encore I’m going to include one more image. While this didn’t make the cut artistically, it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience, and thus seems to belong here.

I'm pretty sure these are two southern pacific rattlesnakes (_Crotalus oreganus_ helleri) mating.  I first noticed the pair when I was only a foot or two away from them on a trail; after moving a bit away I captured this shot of the two snakes wrapped around each other.  Sadly, I think my presence may have interrupted them. (Marc C. Perkins)
Two Rattlesnakes Mating, from my Crystal Cove State Park series (1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6).  Taken in Crystal Cove State Park, CA.

Cat anatomy: the third eyelid

Most humans are probably familiar with the two fleshy eyelids we use to protect our eyes. Most vertebrates, however, have a third eyelid that they can also use to cover their eye. This eyelid is usually a thin white membrane that moves horizontally across the eye, and is called the nictitating membrane or palpebra tertia.

The third eyelid is often difficult to see in cats (and dogs), because if their outer eyelids are open then the nictitating membrane is almost always also open. However, last week when getting a few pictures of my cats relaxing, I discovered that I’d captured a sequence of pictures that clearly demonstrate the third eyelid:

Lucca shows off her third eyelid in this sequence of four photographs taken just after she woke up from a nap.  The third eyelid (nictitating membrane or palpebra tertia) is a thin white membrane that slides horizontally across the eye underneath the outer two eyelids.  Humans lack this third eyelid, but most other vertebrates have it.  Lucca here is simultaneously stretching, yawning, and opening her eyes.  In the first image her eyes are completely closed, in the second image her outer two eyelids are partially open, but the nictitating membrane is still entirely covering the eye, in the third image the outer two eyelids are almost entirely open and the nictitating membrane is about half covering the eye, and in the fourth image all three eyelids are fully open. (Marc C. Perkins)
Lucca, a blue patched tabby and white adult female cat, shows off her third eyelid in this sequence of four photographs taken just after she woke up from a nap. Lucca here is simultaneously stretching, yawning, and opening her eyes after waking up from a nap.

In the first (top) image Lucca’s eyes are completely closed and she’s just starting a yawn after waking up from a nap. In the second image her outer two eyelids are partially open, but the nictitating membrane is still entirely covering the eye (the nictitating membrane is visible as a white layer completely covering the eye; compare the second picture to the third and fourth and note that you can’t see her green eyes at all in the second picture, even though the two outer eyelids are open).

In the third image the outer two eyelids are almost entirely open and the nictitating membrane is about half covering the eye, and in the fourth (bottom) image all three eyelids are fully open.

Continue reading Cat anatomy: the third eyelid

Cat pictures to start the week

This Thanksgiving holiday was a good one. Great dinner with friends, fun street photography on Black Friday, and a weekend of relaxing with Michelle. Since I’m in a great mood, I figured I’d start the week off with a couple of kitty pictures. What could be a better start to the week?

A closeup of Lucca's hind paw, with her beautiful green eye and nose staring at you from the background in soft focus.  Her paw pad leathers are multicolored because she's a dilute caliby (blue patched tabby and white), so the leathers are patterned just like the rest of her is.  The leathers are a mix of two colors: blue (dilute black) and pink/rose.  The texturing on the pads is also visible; it's like she's got all-terrain tire treads on her paws :) (Marc C. Perkins)
A closeup of Lucca's hind paw, with her beautiful green eye and nose staring at you from the background in soft focus. Her paw pad leathers are multicolored because she's a dilute caliby (blue patched tabby and white), so the leathers are patterned just like the rest of her is. The leathers are a mix of two colors: blue (dilute black) and pink/rose. The texturing on the pads is also visible; it's like she's got all-terrain tire treads on her paws.

Over the past few days I’ve spent some time trying to get closeups of my cats cleaning themselves, some of which I’ll be posting in a week or two.  In the meantime, though, I got a couple of more general shots I thought I’d share:

Lucca peers off into the distance while being backlit by the setting sun.  I love her mostly-closed pupils in her green eyes, and the highlighted whiskers (both nose and eyebrow).  If you look closely, you can even see her eyelashes :) (Marc C. Perkins)
Lucca peers off into the distance while being backlit by the setting sun. I love her sunlit whiskers (both nose and eyebrow), and that you can see her eyelashes if you look closely.
Kira looks incredibly comfortable curled up on a comforter napping with her eyes closed and paws out in front of her.  I love how her nose is buried in her left.  So adorable! (Marc C. Perkins)
Kira looks incredibly comfortable curled up napping with her eyes closed and paws out in front of her. I love how her nose is buried in her legs. So adorable!

Have a great week!

More pictures

To see more pictures of my cats (are you sure you want to enter the depths of my cat pictures?), head to my Cats Gallery or my Cat Closeups Gallery.

Photographing mice: the adorableness is overwhelming!

A gray male pet mouse stands on all four paws and looks just past the camera, seemingly ready for anything.  He's in an exploration mode, looking around the area with ears perked up and whiskers at the ready. (Marc C. Perkins)
A gray male pet mouse stands on all four paws and looks just past the camera, seemingly ready for anything.

Recently I got the opportunity to photograph a few fancy mice, and I just have to share the cuteness here on the blog. I had rats or mice as pets for more than a decade before getting my current cats, and I dearly loved them; in fact, I’d still have rodent pets if it weren’t for their horribly short lifespans 1.

Editor’s note: I’ll try to add commentary throughout these pictures, but I should probably just say “SQUEEE!” after each picture, because that’s what I’m really doing inside when I see these.

A gray male mouse with black eyes peers over the top of a clear plastic cage.  He's just poking his nose over, and looks like he's hesitantly wondering what, or who, is out there. (Marc C. Perkins)
A gray male mouse with black eyes peers over the top of a clear plastic cage. He's just poking his nose over, and looks like he's hesitantly wondering what, or who, is out there.

Mice are incredibly fun to watch, especially in large groups. They’re always exploring the boundaries of their cages:

A gray male pet mouse jumps up on the side of a clear plastic cage and holds himself up by his front paws, peering over the edge into the vast unknown beyond the cage.  I love the cute little paws holding onto the edge.  I also like how the whiskers are fully three-dimensional: you can see how they extend around the face in all directions - front, back, top, bottom, and sides. (Marc C. Perkins)
A gray male pet mouse jumps up on the side of a clear plastic cage and holds himself up by his front paws, peering over the edge into the vast unknown beyond the cage. I like how the whiskers are fully three-dimensional: you can see how they extend around the face in all directions - front, back, top, bottom, and sides.

or poking their noses out of tubes:

A white and black patched male mouse sniffs at what's outside his green tube.  The focus is dead on his adorable pink nose! (Marc C. Perkins)
A white and black patchy male mouse sniffs at what's outside his green tube. The focus is right on his adorable pink nose!

or grooming themselves:

Continue reading Photographing mice: the adorableness is overwhelming!

New macro lens!

A few days ago our friendly neighborhood UPS driver delivered my new Canon efs 60mm macro lens. Excitement ensued!

My primary lens to date has been a Canon efs 15-85mm. It’s an excellent all-around lens, and it even holds its own as a macro lens. But I’m already in love with the 60mm. It’s a true 1:1 macro lens that’s small and light, meaning I can carry it around easily (335g compared to the 625g Canon 100mm L). One complaint some people have is that the working distance at 1:1 magnification is only a few inches from the front of the lens, but since I do primarily plant and lichen work I don’t mind. The Digital Picture has a good review of the lens here.

Of course I just had to try out the new lens as soon as I got it. Looking around the house for items to photograph revealed one very cute and furry critter sitting next to the window.

Sniff: A closeup of Lucca's cute "old rose" colored nose. (Marc C. Perkins)
Sniff: A closeup of Lucca's cute "old rose" colored nose.

The light was fairly diffuse room lighting, but the lens was capably able to handle it opened up nice and wide.

Yes, closeup pictures of cat eyes are a cliche, but how can I resist taking a piture of Lucca's green eyes with my new macro lens? (Marc C. Perkins)
Yes, closeup pictures of cat eyes are a cliche, but how could I resist taking a picture of Lucca's green eyes with my new macro lens?

And, of course, it was fun to play with selective focus.

I love what happens at f2.8.  This picture gives me a feeling of fear: it's like a giant cat is suddenly so close that your eyes haven't had time to focus on the iris yet. (Marc C. Perkins)
I love what happens at f2.8. This picture gives me a feeling of fear: it's like a giant cat is suddenly so close that your eyes haven't had time to focus on the iris yet.

After my fifteen minute, hand-held shoot with only sunny-window-enhanced room lighting, I’m very impressed.¬† The lens is light, quick to focus, and sharp.¬† I can’t wait to use it more.

My cats eat grass

Cats are carnivores: their skull, jaws, and teeth all cry out “I’m a hunter. I eat things like you (but smaller) for breakfast.” Yet cats in both the wild and captivity consume grass voluntarily.

A good friend bought our cats some wheat grass as a welcome-home-from-the-shelter present when we adopted them, and both enjoyed nibbling on it. Unfortunately, though, we recently learned that one of our cats has a wheat allergy, and the vet wasn’t sure if the allergens being tested for were in the grain or the leaves. So, we stopped buying wheat grass for them.

But wheat isn’t the only grass out there. In fact, Wikipedia reports that oats are often called “cat grass”. So, we ordered some tack oats from Johnny’s Selected Seeds and planted it last week. Both Lucca and Kira have been eying it through the window as it grew, and today we brought the pot in for them to eat (it took about a week to go from seed to cat-ready size).

Within a few minutes both kitties were investigating:

Lucca sniffs a pot filled with newly germinated (and nibbled on) oat grass (tack oats; Avena sativa). (Marc C. Perkins)
Lucca sniffs a pot filled with newly germinated (and nibbled on) oat grass (tack oats; Avena sativa).

Continue reading My cats eat grass