One of our long deferred plans .. let´s write some words about cat photography. In our daily twitter “life” we often get asked about this topic, about experience and some ideas, tricks, tips, some technical details, equipment and more .. (there a hundreds of details to write about). Your first thoughts should always be your cat models, they are often not easy to shoot, they have different moods, they like to move unexpected, so it can become tricky. Sometimes an occasional snapshot is ok . Some ideas here:
Your cat should be fine, healthy, relaxed or playful for a shot or photo session (and u should be relaxed too). We learned NOT to photograph shy, anxious cats or cats, who are ill (with very few exceptions).
Actually your start then is quite simple:
#1 get a camera, find (better have) a cat, then #JustDoIt 😻🐾
Maybe we should start with some absolutely basics, remarks and what we call “rules of thumbs”. Rules of thumbs means, you can apply the rule 90-99,9% of the time you try to get a good pic, after several 100s or 1000s shots you can try to start breaking the rules:
#2 u need a camera device ( from smartphone, tablets .. up to high end DSLR equip). For the start
let´s talk about smartphones, the most common device, more below)
#3 light is your friend
#4 forget flash
#5 try to get focus right
#6 best camera? the one u have with you ready at your fingertips/paws
About 3 years ago, Hugodad started his regular shelter visits and shooting lots of cats photos ( of Lady Minky, me and a to of other cats in the shelter, actually the number is several x ten thousands, so we think we write about some experiences from it (Equipment used see below).
#1 just start taking pictures of your cat(s), u will get better and more experienced with time (and you will hopefully learn, where and why u “failed” or are not happy with the results). We wanted to start with #2 (see above) smartphones and will talk about pro/contras and some limits of what you can do and expect.
“#3 light is your friend”
Smartphones became quite good as cameras during the last years and many people use them as (the only) camera today. Many smartphones ( and even larger cameras) often have problems with getting a good shot in low light conditions, pictures often can get “noisy” / bad photo quality and often getting a good sharp focus can also be tricky. Best solution (if possible) is try to get more light for your cat models (without switching on flash on your camera smartphone) see #4 .
#4 forget flash
Using Flash to get more light with a flash can be a possible (last IMHO) solution to get a photo, but very often photos are not satisfying (flat look, zombie eyes etc ..). Some cats are also afraid or shocked if u use a flash, so we do not like using flash for cat photography. RTFM or online help, how to switch off flash.
#5 try to get focus right/sharp
We often see blurred (out of focus) pictures, because the smartphone “decided” to do an out of focus shot. Please do not confuse this with a blurred picture from your cat moving too fast, this is/can be a different problem. setting the focus on the iPhone here is just a finger tap to set the focus point. For cat photography there is one simple rule: try to get the focus on the cats eye(s) (for longer distances the nose will work too). RTFM or online help, how to set the focus (if possible) on your smartphone.
#6 don´t ask about “the best camera”!
the one u have with you ready at your fingertips/paws is best, an expensive DSLR at home won´t help you, if you want to get a shot right now (one of the greatest smartphone advantages). Another consideration: practically no one has unlimited financial resources to always buy a good or best/newest camera (and you will need learning time for a new device too) , get, what can afford and then stop thinking about new equip for 1-2 years and (learn to) use, what u got.
That´s it for today, feel free to ask me questions on twitter or in the comment section.
Topics for next photo blogpost: pro/cons and limits of smartphones and some ideas about minor image editing and publishing cat pics on the net)
Yours Hugi and his photographer Hugidad
P.S.: since i will be asked anyway, here a short list of equipment used during the last years:
smartphones: old Samsung S2(drowned, rest in peace) , i(Cat)Phone 5s, iPhone 6plus
tablets: iPads several generations
good old Panasonic Lumix
DSLR Nikon D7000 first, then D7100 was added, several lenses and additional equip for both
All Photos in this blogpost shot with an Iphone, they may not be purrfect, i just needed some examples, what can be done with a smartphone without major image editing.