Sunday, January 16, 2011

How to Photograph Cats

I admit it.  I'm a sucker for cats.  When they're in the right mood, they'll put up with a lot of picture taking before they'll walk away.  The only challenge is to get them to look in the right direction.  If you have a cat at home, I'm sure you have a whole bunch of cat pictures you've already taken because they're so easy to catch at a quiet moment.


The biggest challenge is getting the lighting right.  I stopped using flashes with cats, even those detached from the camera body and remotely triggered.  I don't know if it's the brightness or the suddenness of the flash, but the cats I've worked with show a low tolerance for more than just a couple of flash shots.  Instead I've switched over to using a flashlight and a wide aperture on the lens.  The above picture of Pepper is one example.  If the cat doesn't like the flashlight, try putting a single piece of white paper over the front of it to diffuse the light.  That might make it more tolerable.

Here are two more cat images taken with the help of a flashlight:



Besides using the flashlight, here are a few more suggestions:
  • Use the widest aperture on your lens to blur the background
  • Get in close with the camera, keeping the flashlight farther away
  • Use a wide angle lens
  • Take as many shots as you can in one session.  Don't assume what looks great on the screen on the back of your camera will be as great when you put it on the computer or print it.
  • Give the cat a treat immediately after the photo shoot

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