Photographer’s 1 Year Effort to Photograph a Mountain Lion Living in Los Angeles

Next time the circumstances require you to stare through your lens for hours or to return to a site day after day until you finally get the perfect photograph, remember that oftentimes even National Geographic photographers don’t get the shot the first time around… or the second… or the third…

Steve Winter, a seasoned National Geographic photojournalist, is living proof of the value of dogged patience and persistence in photography. He spent one year trying to photograph an elusive mountain called P-22 living in Los Angeles’ Griffith Park with the city skyline in the background and another two months to get a photo of the cat with the Hollywood sign. In this video, Winter explains his process of using remote cameras triggered by infrared to make the images:

Since P-22 moved in to Griffith Park from the Santa Monica Mountains, biologists have managed to capture and tag him so as to gather data about urban cats from his movements and behavior. They weighed him at 125 pounds and estimate him to be four years old, making him the largest predator in the area.

However, considering that three of Winter’s steel DSLR box setups were stolen throughout the course of the project, Winter would probably disagree with that statement.

steve winter puma cougar L.A.

P-22 stands near the edge of a cliff with Hollywood’s lights in the background. (Steve Winter)

So, where’s the shot of P-22 with the Hollywood sign?

Conveniently, the photograph hasn’t been released yet. To see it, you’ll have to wait for the December issue of National Geographic magazine. In the meantime, take a look at the rest of Winter’s stunning wildlife photography on his website gallery.

“I hope these pictures help give people a reason to care and to understand that we live with these cats that don’t cause us any problems,” Winter said. “We need to help the cats in the Santa Monica recreation area and understand that they deserve a future in L.A. also.”

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