There are many times in this digital age, that a photographer on checking what he or she has on the LCD screen at the back of the camera body, succumbs to an adrenaline rush. Indeed there should be times like this, otherwise perhaps the photographer is not investing enough passion in their art. The joy of photography surely comes as much with the retrospection as it does with the preparation. The bit between is too short – a picture takes 1000/1 second – that is not enough time for accompanying emotion. When I saw this shot and its sharp focus on the back of my Nikon D4s, I gasped.
This staged image was great fun to put together. The gold rush saloon was very much as it was left – next to the brothel and in a fenced off “final frontier” street. We spent the afternoon opening up the bar, lighting candles and waiting for the light to go down so as to bring out those candles. The facade was as good as it could possibly be and then all that
was needed was for the captive mountain lion to cooperate. These extraordinarily beautiful animals have enormous energy and when he was released from deep inside the saloon, he leapt magnificently out of the doorway. Luckily this was exactly what I was told to anticipate and I was ready. We nailed it as a team.
Before its general release , I showed this image to a number of people and the only negative comment I was given was that it was simply too good to be true. The mountain lion is positioned perfectly for the interior candles and the light snow flakes, as well as floating so majestically in the air. I can understand why some might then think that I computer engineered this image and simply pasted the lion into the doorway. That would ruin my career.
As I drove to the Montana airport with my cameras packed away, I knew what I had to do – I had to also release the images in the sequence either side of the shot. There is no way I could make this sequence up. Pixar maybe could , but there is no animation here – it is very real.
I have this shot in my home – I think it is very special.