Do your black cat portraits turn out as blobby fuzzy balls of disappointment? You might blame your camera, settings, or think you take terrible photos. But none of these might be true. Black cat photography does not need as many special skills as you think.
Let me share the pro’s best secret and it’s so obvious you will laugh.
Photographing black objects, including cats, needs one thing.
Any bright and friendly light will do but here’s the kind of light you are looking for:
Natural outdoor or catio light
A bright but overcast day is perfect. Sunny days are not quite so good but if you can find bright shade (I know it sounds silly) the ambient light will make your cat fur look better.
Indoor bright window light
Near a window on a bright day, out of direct sunlight will give the the same kind of light as a catio or garden. This is preferable if your cat spends its time inside.
A Positionable Flash Gun
If you are lucky enough to have access to a flashgun with a moveable head, this can be bounced off the ceiling to give you extra soft light. Never ever point the flash at your cat. Flash pointed in the direction of your cat will upset it, and give you truly terrble photos. Pointing the flash upwards diffuses the light and works similar to fill flash.
The photo above of Phoebe shows her in the shade on a bright day. The picture is unedited but you can still see more of her face and her leg as well as her tail. This is how diffused light helps define your black cat.
Why Natural Light Is Best
It’s free! Make use of this valuable resource by checking out when your own home or garden’s light is at its best. Be ready to shoot when you know your own light is good. If you have a flashgun take time to practice it before you use it on your cat. Find a human
victim friend and see how they react to your flash.
Black absorbs light like a sponge so aim for what I think of as softer ‘gentler’ light so you get fur definition. This can be the one thing that transforms your own black cat photography. As you get more confident, try shooting when the light is brighter, or overcast – this will expand your black cat photo skills and teach you how light can help.
This photo of Phoebe was taken on an overcast day. She has shape and her fur has definition. I could improve the photo more if I put it through Affinity Photo and if you have a similar photo yourself, editing it in your computer software or smartphone app will give you a similar successful outcome.
Winning With Black Cat Photographs
What makes black cats hard to photograph is our own mindset.
You can’t just point the camera and shoot and hope. You have to take into account the one thing that makes our photos work – light. Look for the light and and your reward will be a much better and successful black cat photograph. Get out there, practice, share the black love on social media.
Just as Phoebe does here. Let the black fur shine!