Cat Photography

Cat Photography
Have you ever thought of making your pet pose for a photograph? If you're like most pet owners, you probably already have loads of pictures of your pet, especially if that pet is a cat. But wouldn't it be great if you knew how to take great pictures of your animal amigos, instead of just pointing and shooting aimlessly? Here's how you can take superb snapshots of your kitty.

To be a good cat photographer, you need to have a few things:

• A camera with film, or a digital camera

• Some patience
• A cat

"The only way you should shoot an animal is with a camera"

Everybody who owns a cat has most likely taken images of their little friend. Cat and feline photography can be very rewarding with the end result being photographs you can hang on your wall and enjoy for years to come.

When taking photos of cats good light, preferably outdoors is important, if this not possible inside in a brightly lit room or by a window, this is especially important with blue eyed cats as their eyes let in more light than other eye colours. If you have to use a flash, try to take the photo at a slight angle, to avoid the flash going off directly in the eye. If you must use a flash, it is best to use one that is an off-camera flash, which you can hold to the side of the camera, preventing it going off directly into your cat's eyes.

Hold the camera at the cat's eye level. Make sure you don't cut off ears, feet or tails. If you want professional looking photos, use a backdrop. Use colours that contrast well with the cat's coat and bring out the cat's eye colour. It is better to have a plain background but sometimes you can use the background to your advantage, as in the photos of the cat in the flowers below.

Use toys and food treats to get the cat's attention. Toys are better as when you use food treats the cat's keep trying to come to you and won't sit still. Take photos of your cat looking directly at the camera and also photos where the cat's head is slightly at an angle.

Do what professional photographers do, take lots and lots of photos. The chance is you will get one or two really nice shots out of every 100. Try to capture your cat's personality and mood in the shot. Yawning shots are easy to take and look great. Keep the background uncluttered. It detracts from the cat.

Get in close, Fill as much of the frame as possible with the cat. Remember that a cat is a beautiful and graceful animal, you want to capture shots of your cat being a cat and not in any way undignified, such as dressing it up, or making it pose in an un-cat like way.
Blue/grey cats easiest to photograph, black and Siamese cats are the most difficult. You can use a flash with a
blue cat, but the light tends to bounce off a black cat's coat and as explained above, a Siamese cat's eyes can be a little tricky.
Always have your camera close by. Try to experiment with your camera's settings and switch from auto to a manual setting where you have more control over aperture and speed.
Be patient. Your cat may just not be in the mood to have his/her photo taken. If this is the case, no matter how hard you try, you will not get good photos. Wait until your cat is in a more receptive mood. Photographing your cat has to be fun for both the cat and you. Playing with toys can make the session enjoyable for them and relatively easy for me to get nice shots of them.

Another tip is to photograph your cat when she has just woken up from a nap and isn't overly active.

Patience is the number one tool when it comes to cat photography! These Cat Photography tips, will help you take better shots of any pet:

• Learn your cat's habits so you can anticipate those great shots.

• Keep notes. Record your cat's habits, your camera settings, type of film used, everything. You can refer to it continually to help improve each shot.

• Get your camera down on their level or bring them up to the camera level.

• Shoot multiple shots of an activity as it progresses. A couple of winners out of an entire role is all even professional photographers expect.

• Red Eye (for cats it's "Green Eye" unless they have blue eyes) It is caused by the intense light from a flash close to the camera lens reflecting back from the eye: Much like when you take a flash picture directly into a mirror or glass window. If your flash can be removed from the camera, move the flash to the side or high above the camera and slightly at an angle. Bounce flash will also give great results for cat photography resulting in that soft lighting that enhances a cuddly cat or kitten with out the 'red eye' reflection. Taking your shot from an angle, or waiting until your cats head is slightly turned will also do the job.

• To "Stop" the motion of a jumping cat you will need at least a 1/500 second shutter speed. "Panning" with the action (moving the camera while following your cat's movement) will result in your pet being in clear focus (action stopped) and the background blurred - this can be a very effective tool for cat photography or any subject that moves quickly.

Getting it light

Yes, one of the things that have a big effect on your photos is the kind of light you're shooting in. The best light is natural sunlight, but you can get pretty good pictures even with streetlights and the lamps inside your home. Using the camera flash can sometimes make your pictures look 'washed out' and lifeless, so try and use other light sources whenever you can. Besides, your pet could also look like it has burning red eyes in the picture when you've used the flash, so that's another reason to avoid using it.

Be careful not to shoot when a strong light comes into the lens from behind your pet, because this will make it look like a 'silhouette' or dark form in the picture.

Composing the shot - getting Poochie to pose

One piece of advice - be wacky, and go down to your pet's level. Keep changing angles so you get an interesting picture. You can get kittens to prance about by throwing them a ball of wool, or you can make a cat stand up on two legs. You can even stand on a table of chair and shoot your pet looking up at you - this always makes a cute picture, especially if your camera has a zoom lens. The great thing about digital cameras is that you can see the results instantly - if you didn't get a good shot, simply shoot again!

Captions that capture the moment

The most fun is when you think up captions for pictures like these:

• A cat lying lazily on a branch - "Don't disturb me. I've had a long, hard day."

• Your cat watching the news on TV - "Please let it be sunny outside, please let it be sunny outside!"

• A poodle strutting about - "Oh, you must visit my stylist Claude, dahling"

And while it's unlikely that kitty will give you the smile of the Cheshire cat from the story Alice in Wonderland, your cat will be more than happy to pose - even though it's hard to get her to stay in one place!
Cats like to do their own thing, and don't usually stay put when you give them food, so you'll probably have to stick to the candid shots instead.

Point and shoot

If you're don't know too much about using a camera, stick to the simple point-and-shoot types. Digital cameras are great, and some of them are quite impressive, with all the functions to create special effects like black and white photos and yellowish sepia tints for that 'old' look. Almost all cameras nowadays have an auto-focus function, so that you don't have to focus on your pet manually.

Make photos of yuor beautiful feline and soon you'll become a great cat photographer!