Written by Marjorie Dawson

A Ginger Cat and His Digital Transformation

A Ginger Cat and His Digital Transformation

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Do you love photographs of cats that have a touch of intensity or drama? They can draw attention to your cat’s personality and impress your friends as well as grab you, new followers, if you love social media.

Do you want to know how your cat photos can grab a piece of the magic? Let me show you how small adjustments can transform a good photograph into a fascinating one in this ‘before and after’ of one of the Dash Kitten cats – Jack. The top photo is a good ginger portrait but I will share how it has been transformed into a portrait with the WOW factor!

A Ginger Portrait with Adjustments to the image noted
A ginger portrait ‘Jack’ – ISO 200 200 mm f/5.6 1/1600 © Dash Kitten

If you can shoot a cat portrait in RAW, you can follow the same fundamental steps I did using Affinity Photo of Adobe Camera RAW. Otherwise, you can transform a JPEG file in exactly the same way. I used what I had and you do the same. Your software will be able to do all of the things mine does here, but if you have any issues you can’t solve email me.

What is Clipping in Photography? Clipping happens when you have areas with no information in your photo. When an area has no information, it is either pure white (clipped highlights) or pure black (clipped shadows). Photographers often refer to these as “blown out” areas.

Lightroom Presets

A Ginger Portrait – The Adjustments

Look for a photograph you have taken that has light and dark contrasts. The light and shade do not have to be extreme but they need to be a strong presence in your image. I loved the image of Jack but felt I could do more to reflect his inner calm and strength.

A ginger cat portrait looking left
‘Jack’ – ISO 200 200 mm f/5.6 1/1600 © Dash Kitten (Enhanced)

Here’s How I Transformed Jack:

Prepare The Image:

  1. I worked in a copy of my ginger portrait. I suggest you work on a duplicate for safety’s sake and keep your original unaltered.
  2. Then I created a duplicate layer which is identical to Jack. Look in your own Layer menu for ‘duplicate layer‘ or similar.
  3. I worked on this layer making the adjustments I tell you about in the next section.
  4. Why use a duplicate layer? It means if you don’t like the results you just delete the layer and start again. You merge the two layers if you are happy with the result. [Look for the ‘Merge’ options in your Layer menu.]
An image showing how layers work in a photo editing application
If Layers confuse you imagine them like this!

Work On The Image:

As you work on your own image you will follow these steps in your own time. Your photo editing software will have the function Layers, and Merge clearly labelled. If you have any questions, please email and I will be glad to help.

  1. Using my duplicate layer I lightened the exposure and brightness sliders so Jack stood out more from the background. I moved the sliders backward and forward until I got a change I liked. You will start by moving your own sliders by small amounts to see the effects you get. Don’t be afraid to try pushing a bit further as you gain confidence though. It is these touches that make your personal portrait unique.
  2. I then used some subtle dodging to brighten Jack’s and focus attention there. I worked with a light touch and also lightened the shadow side of his face a little.
  3. I looked for any pale hair on Jack’s chest. If you adjust exposure too much pale fur or light areas can be clipped* and become bleached out.
  4. When I liked the look of the lighting I moved on to adjust the Saturation and Vibrance sliders.
  5. This is what really brought intensity to Jack’s photo and I felt I had finally done my justice to the inner strength of my gentle ginger ninja.
  6. I finished by merging the layers – using my Layer menu – then exported the photograph.

I hope you will be able to follow along with the How to and my challenge this week is to set you exploring drama in a photo of your own to see if you can make it look amazing.

Or you can simply explore to see how the effects work on your image! Let me know how it goes! I made a few adjustments to this spectacular yawn of Jack’s – check it out!

Photography Help for a Ginger Portrait

  • What is Clipping* in Photography? Clipping happens when you have areas with no information in your photo. When an area has no information, it is either pure white (clipped highlights) or pure black (clipped shadows). Photographers often refer to these as “blown out” areas. Lightroom Presets
  • Photo Software. I use Affinity Photo (Mac/PC), you may use Photoshop Elements (Mac/PC) or Paint Shop Pro (PC). All established programs will perform the actions I use.


Marjorie Dawson

Marjorie is a motorbike riding blogger and award winning cat photographer who believes that everyone can shoot and edit wonderful pictures they love regardless of the camera they use.

She is a Professional member of the Cat Writers Association, Kuykendall Image Award winner and published photographer at the Guardian newspaper.

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20 thoughts on “A Ginger Cat and His Digital Transformation”

  1. I love the transformation of the edited photo. I’m beginning to experiment with Photoshop and like the results I’m getting better than some of the other programs.

    Reply
    • Every photo editing program, even the free online ones, gives you a great opportunity to edit and enhance your photos. It’s great that no-one is excluded from editing – from Affinity Photo to Photoshop and Lunapic, there is so much to choose from. It’s inspiring.

      Reply
  2. I love adjustment tools and filters. I don’t think I ever post a photo of my dog without playing with it first.

    Reply
  3. Jack’s photo looks great! I use the brightness & clarity functions all the time. They are so helpful.
    Love & biscuits,
    Dogs Luv Us and We Luv Them

    Reply
  4. I always love your lessons here as I learn something each time, Jack you are an amazing model and so handsome

    Reply
  5. jack…dood….we think ya bee most handsum….in any lite….we iz gonna go chex out yur yawn foto ~~~~ 🙂 ♥♥

    Reply
  6. If I could understand a word he says or have a bit of time to follow along maybe… Oy Vey. Thanks Marjorie we did learn a bit about our tools today and will play when we have some time Purrs

    Reply
  7. Wow, that sure made a difference.
    I often ‘mess’ with my images to make them have more of ‘that something’…

    Reply
  8. That’s really very nice and the orange goodness really shines through! Thanks for joining our Thankful Thursday Blog Hop!

    Reply

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