Is there a trick to cat photography?

She’s a girl. We just got into the habit of calling her Fred due to long and convoluted reasons involving her real name “Sonata,” which lead to “Frankie Sonata” which somehow led to “Frankie Fred” and then just “Fred.” What can I say, we’re weird. :smiley:

She has a sister who’s as pretty as she is, but a little more camera shy.

I think the key is to really be patient, and find a good time to take pictures when you can take time to get down to their level, relax with them, and take lots of pictures in one session.

I have two kitties, Sneakers and Isis, who get photographed a lot. Sneakers is an older kitty, so by now he is very used to the weird machine. Isis is a younger kitty whom we’ve only had for a month or so, so she’s still getting used to it.

One thing I do is let the kitty investigate the camera. Either set it down on the floor or hold it in one hand while you pet them with the other hand. Let them sniff and rub it and get used to it.

I don’t use the flash, because it will make the cat’s eyes close quickly, or they’ll have a dopey expression with eyes half-closed.

Waiting till the kitty is very relaxed is a good idea. Like when they’re sunbathing, sleepy or in a comfortable spot like the sink.

Also, one thing I do is watch the cat through the viewfinder, with the button half-pressed to focus it. When the cat is looking or moving around, you’ll be able to see small pauses when s/he stops, and you can press the button then. That lets you get cute stuff like yawns. :slight_smile:

Your kitties (and your pictures) are beautiful, StarsApart. :slight_smile: I especially like the black and white “sunbathing” one.

Same…minus the peanut butter :eek:

Our cats are terribly photogenic, and Mr. Tao is a school district photographer/videographer, and it’s still hit and miss what comes out and what doesn’t.
Even though if we point a camera at them they just sit there and stare as if they’re posing!!

Until we REALLY want to capture a moment. Then they’re launching themselves at the camera to play. :smack:

Thank you! :slight_smile:

That kind of looks familiar.

Hey, so does that!

I think our cats are related.

I think more often than not, your cats just have to be used to you having the camera and looking at them. Or get them at times when they’re lounging and tired. That’s what I did for this one.

Even the most basic P&S digital camera will still allow you to focus. You press the button halfway down with the crosshairs on the subject you want in focus, right? (Usually the eyes, for people or animals.) Then, while still holding the button halfway, you recompose the shot how you want it (being careful not to change the distance from the subject) and then shoot.

Judging by the number of blurry snaps all over the internet, though, it seems many people have no idea how to focus…

Near as I can tell, it’s a lot like the trick of cat nail clipping. You can jolly them along and get it done fairly smoothly if a)they’re fairly used to it and b) the equipment is right there next to you and ready to go. Once you get up to look for stuff or start fiddling around in a weird way, they know something’s up, and things just go downhill pretty rapidly. And the first few times are probably going to be pretty rocky no matter what.

The difference, of course, is that you can put 'em in a headlock and still get the nails done, but it makes for a seriously un-cute picture.

Ooooh, ooo ooo… I have one!

Roxy the lioness roars!

As far as tricks…

[li]Use a camera that has a wide aperture, to blur the background nicely.[/li][li]Make sure you have plenty of light—don’t use flash on a P&S.[/li][li]If the light is too low for fast shutter speeds, try setting the timer to 2 seconds, so you press the button and the shutter clicks two seconds later—that keeps your “button press” from shaking the camera.[/li][li]Focus on their eyes. The eyes are the most important part (my own cat photo notwithstanding)[/li][li]Get the cat used to the camera: Either take pictures of sleeping cats or sit around until they are bored enough to ignore you.[/li][/ul]

ETA: StarsApart, I love your photos! Beautiful eyes, great blurred backgrounds, neat yawns. Flash ruins the beauty of a cat’s eyes.

Yes, this is a good tip for all indoor home photography - the inside of most peoples’ homes is never a great backdrop for shots, especially if they have lots of clutter around. Blur the background to isolate the cat. But don’t use an aperture too wide, like 1.8, because then you risk having such a shallow depth of field that the cat’s nose will be out of focus when its ears are in focus and vice versa. Unless you’re deliberately trying for that effect, use at least f4.

Some gorgeous feline photos so far!

I’ve take only one good cat photo in my live, and it was a combination of having the camera at hand, sensing when I was being stared at, and moving swiftly when I saw the opportunity. In other words, blind luck. Here is my one and only good effort.

A couple of more based on this one

Another rainy Jersey day…

[li]Always have a camera somewhere close, even if it is your cell phone. I took that photo with my iPhone, which is always in my pocket.[/li][li]A useful tip in general for photography is to look for two things interacting: not just a single cat by itself, but a cat and her ball of yarn or … two cats sitting side by side like an old married couple gazing at the rain.[/li][/ul]

No kidding. That “lioness” picture above was taken at F/4, and her ears are not in focus, while her tongue and eyes are.

That lens goes to f/1.4, but the depth of field at that point is about as thick as a sheet of paper. (I learned that after many crappy photos)

We’re gonna need to have a cat pics thread.

Or another one, as I’m sure there’s one out there somewhere already!

You have to get dark cats on the right background.

A grey cat is much easier to photograph. :smiley:

We’ve learned over the years that 1. cats stop doing the cute thing when they hear the camera start up, so power it up in another room if you can, and 2. cats are jerks, and they will stop doing the cute thing as soon as you get the camera just to be a jerk.

A bit of build up to this pic <which isn’t great or anything>: Mr. Tao leaves glasses of milk next to his keyboard and mouse. Regularly. The cats like to climb his computer desk since the top levels reach to the ceiling. Also regularly. An hour ago the cats obliterated yet one more keyboard, and maybe the mouse too, by spilling said milk all over said desk. I let one of the cats near/on my keyboard all the time, 'cause she’s cute and not that cuddly with me except for this one place. Then, she snuggles all day at me. And I let her, mostly.

So Mr. Tao’s mad that the cats are used to being on keyboards, I’m thinking “And…when are you going to stop leaving milk on your desk like that?” and this thread comes up and I look through my pics and I found this one…

What’s amusing is that is not MY computer. It’s HIS… :stuck_out_tongue:

So clearly he started the whole ‘Hey let’s let the kitties up on the desk!’ thing.

(His response is that she was much smaller then :wink: )

Lots of invisible props.

Some of my favorite cat pics:

Vincent, who is very photogenic (he’s my dear friend and former roomie’s kitty).

My own littleham, Caesar. With some friends(Jack and Liam, who belong to another friend and former room mate). Another of Jack.

My other cat, Fairuza.

And together. They’re not too fond of each other so the only pics I have of them closer than two feet are when they are fighting.

Nick, a former foster cat.

olivesmarch4th, you are so clever! What a wonderful way to get a bunch of great kitteh pics :smiley:

I loved them all, so many beautiful kitties.

I “pose” mine. Sleeping cats are easy to “abuse”. I slide a scoop next to my big boy so I could show people how I knew that it was time to clean the litterboxes. Poor kitty tried to do it himself, but passed out from the smell.

This one was posed as well. I put the guard goose in front of him while he was sleeping, then poked him. Yeah, I’m an awful person.

I also agree with the advice to get to their level. Kittens are harder to pose.

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with that–in fact, I prefer that in portraits. As long as the eyes are in focus, the picture is fine. I default to f/2-f/2.8 for human portraits, and, depending on the photo I was going for, I’d be in that same range, maybe a stop slower, for animals.

It’s a matter of taste as to how shallow you like your depth of field, but I love the way it looks and the way it focuses your attention and draws you into a photo.

I like for the nose to be in focus as well as the eyes; the ears don’t matter so much. It’s more important for dogs than cats because dogs obviously have longer snouts. A dog photo can be ruined if the nose is blurry.