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!
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.
Here’s How I Transformed Jack:
Prepare The Image:
- 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.
- Then I created a duplicate layer which is identical to Jack. Look in your own Layer menu for ‘duplicate layer‘ or similar.
- I worked on this layer making the adjustments I tell you about in the next section.
- 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.]
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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- When I liked the look of the lighting I moved on to adjust the Saturation and Vibrance sliders.
- 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.
- 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.
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 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.