Is there a trick to cat photography?

There are adorable pictures of kitties all over the internet. Every time my cat is doing something cute, and I try to take a picture, he starts standing up and walking around, moving his head back and forth and generally not holding still. He’s a little weirded out by the camera. In the rare moment when I can get him still, he gets the freaky glowy eye thing. He’s also an all-black cat, so the pics never show much definition or the colors or shapes get distorted or he looks bizarrely angular.

Is there a trick to this? Are you supposed to train them to do this, or is there a particular camera setting, or am I just one of the unfortunate few with an adorable but tragically unphotogenic cat?

On preview: I have ONE decent picture of my cat. But that was years ago.

All answers require evidence of expertise in cat photography. :slight_smile:

Use redeye reduction and focus the image. That’s a big step forward.

My dogs HATE the camera. They can be sleeping and as soon as I pick up the camera they wake up and either run away or try and lick the lens. If they’re awake and being adorable I don’t even get the lens cap off before they ruin the shot.

I don’t think your cat is unphotogenic, just wary of his soul being stolen. Either that or he’s in the witness protection program and is protecting himself.

It’s the black cat thing. There’s no contrast or shadowing. Somebody suggested I take a picture of my cat sleeping but all you get is a black lump.

Well, according to my husband, my cat has no soul. Personally I’m undecided.

Stupid question from someone who has used point and snap digital cameras most of her life. What do you mean, ‘‘focus’’?

Drugs. either for you or the cat, depending on the type of picture you want. :smiley:

Well first of all they have to think nothing of you staring intently at them, pointing that little black box at them oddly, not to mention flashing lights. Sounds like your kitty is freaked out because you’re acting weird. Just bring the camera out a lot more and soon he’ll think nothing of it.

I have a lot of cute pics of my pets but I have always taken their picture a lot so they ignore the camera - though I swear one of my cats will ‘pose’ more when I am taking pics. Most of the best shots weren’t because they kept doing one cute thing long enough for me to capture it - more like I was taking a bunch of pictures of them going about their lives for a half hour, and happened to get some good shots of various cute things.

No flash is best. My apartment is well-lit though.

If you want to see some of my pet photography you have to friend me on facebook. :wink:

I initially read the title of this thread as “Is there a trick to cat pornography,” and my initial thought was “Try peanut butter.”

I’m definitely no expert, but here’s what works for me (and I’m assuming you’re working with a digital camera):

  • Take LOTS and LOTS of photos. LOTS. This will both habituate Mr. Kitty to the presence of the camera, and increase the chances that you’ll capture something cute.

  • Try to use as much ambient light as possible (natural sunlight is best, but electric lights will do), so that you don’t need a flash. That will help keep him from looking like a black blob with freaky glow-eyes, and will be less likely to bother him, but it will also increase the blur-factor, so he’ll need to be sitting still, and you’ll need to have a steady hand.

  • Or go the other direction and use the high-speed setting with flash for action shots. If you shoot him facing at an angle, rather than directly into the camera, it can help decrease the eye reflection.

  • Don’t just wait for him to do something cute; make it happen. Have someone else tease him with a toy, or entice him into position with a treat, and be ready with the camera.

  • If all else fails, accept that he’s simply too beautiful for photos to capture.
    BTW, what kind of camera do you have? Does it have “settings”, per se?

Thanks you guys, this is great advice.

Nikon CoolPix digital camera. Yeah, it has settings. To be honest with you, it probably does a lot of things I don’t know about.

I use a speedlight (SB-400) that can be angled upwards to bounce the light and diffuse it; in addition to generally making all your flash photos look 1000 times better than they would with the built-in flash, it greatly reduces the chance that the cat will close his eyes in reaction to a direct flash of light in his face, thereby enabling shots like this. With a built-in flash, his eyes would be shut.

**Is there a trick to cat photography? **

You could tape the camera to the cat’s head, but I don’t know how you get him to push the button.

The best tip I’ve come up with is to get the camera down to the cat’s eye level. If you’re standing and take a picture looking down on the cat, you’re in the position of a detached observer. Get down to the cat’s point of view and it highlights them as the subject of the picture.

And lots of patience. Get comfortable, you may be lying on your belly for a while.

One of my better attempts.

Good pic, RobotArm. She looks so much like my Gracie I could just use your photo instead of trying to get one of my own. :slight_smile:

Thanks. I just inherited a Gracie, beautiful orange-and-gray tortoiseshell, but no good pictures yet.

If all you will be using is point & shoot cams, there’s your problem right there. You need to step up a bit in the photo world to improve what you get. Better cams allow manual focus, selective focus, center, averaging, etc. Your problem with the sample photo might be that you were too close to the subject to be able to use fixed focus, and a macro setting on a better camera would be appropriate.

Almost every good picture of my cats I’ve ever taken has been with my cell phone camera. I keep it with me and when the cats do something cute, I try to prepare the camera away from them (so they don’t see me fiddling with it) and then just act like everything is perfectly normal. It doesn’t always work, but I’ve been pretty happy with some of the pics I’ve gotten this way.

Here are a couple of my Russian Blue, Sonata (aka “Fred”), one taken yesterday and one a couple of years ago.

Fred yesterday, making her own composition

Fred being adorable

I am so tempted to steal your cat. Or just his eyes, at least. Or hers? Is that a girl Fred?

The more pictures you take of your cat, the more used to it they will be. But if there’s an unpleasant flash or click every time, that might condition them to be scared of it. If you can silence the click and turn off the flash (like I can on my cell phone camera), there’s nothing to really be scared of or even notice.

I pretended to play around on my cell phone and got a great picture of my old friend’s skittish puppy this way. Just minimize the lights and sound of the camera as much as you can, and use it a lot.

I just use a fairly basic digital cam set to ‘Auto’. Most I do to dress things up is put it on the macro setting for close-up portraits, or turn the flash on and off. I am not interested in learning the details of photography. I get great pictures anyhow! And I have plenty of pics of my cats with a regular flash (so far as I know) where their eyes are open.