Do you struggle to take a great picture of your cat (or your dog)? They always seem small in a picture, or have red eyes because you scared them with a flash? It can be so frustrating.
Let me give you one big tip that will help transform your pictures into pet photographs you will be proud of. Read on to find out how to get closer for great cat photos.
Get Close to Your Cat
While this seems obvious let me show you some examples of pictures taken here at home and at our local cat cafe.
Close doesn’t mean a metre away (3 feet) away. It means close as you think is OK then moving even closer. There are several ways to make sure you get a good image.
- Crop your photograph.
- Fill the frame.
- Take a series of shots or use your ‘Sport’ mode.
Crop to I
mprove a Photo
Look at this picture of Connor who is one of the cat cafe’s most popular cats. His calm and patient demeanour wins him many friends which is what I aimed to capture.
You can see how cute he looks enjoying chin scritches from a customer, the picture says ‘Mmmmmm this is good’! But, there is an obstruction on the right-hand side and the background at the top looks distractingly busy.
I didn’t check the results until I got home, as it had been a great day for taking cat pictures with no time to check the results. I really like the picture, so how can I improve it now I have downloaded it onto my computer?
Using Affinity image editing software I did a simple crop that made Connor the centre of attention. I removed the busy background and suddenly the picture looks a lot more interesting with Connor’s blissed-out expression taking centre stage.
If you are wondering why I didn’t crop the image more severely I believe the magic of the moment would disappear. Connor is getting a chin scritch, and it has to be given by ‘someone’. It is ‘his’ pleasure that is the subject of the photo.
Fill The Camera Viewfinder
In this cat photo closeup, I was beginning to learn the potential of my camera and explore its boundaries as I learned about photographing cats. It was this photo that I wanted to show you to encourage you to push boundaries with your own learning.
The photo shows how spectacular a real uncropped close-up can be.
I got close to Sage and focused on her eyes which is a tip I picked up visiting several photography sites. I got closer than I ever have had before and then used a little bit of manual focus.
I was thrilled, my first really exciting cat photograph had worked and I hope it inspires you to try and fill your camera’s viewfinder with a cat. What do you think?
- Your camera will have a manual/auto focus option which is worth exploring. If your auto focus dances about unable to decide where it wants to focus, switch to ‘manual focus’ and try that.
Close as Cat Whiskers Allow
Natasha our black and white cat is an adventurous spirit and capturing her in the garden was one of my favourite summer projects.
As well as getting close, it really helps if you can get lower than your cat. This will help you to remove a lot of background clutter or ensure that your background looks more softly focused. In this photograph, I laid on the grass and pointed my camera upwards.
A DSLR camera will give you a good depth of field for a nice soft background like Natasha’s, or a more controlled background for your compact camera or smartphone.
I am pleased with the first image but saw the potential for different views so I zoomed in gently for an even closer picture taking several shots as I did so. I moved my camera about looking for different angles.
This is the question you should ask yourself every time:
What if ……. I get really close, lie down, sit up, make a noise to grab her attention.
Post Production Improvements
- At this point, if I wanted to enhance the photograph of Natasha, even more, I could use a ‘magnetic lasso‘ or similar tool to lighten her right eye a little. Our colleague photography superstar Glogirly did this when I asked for help with a picture of Harvey.
- I could also use a sharpen tool to give the fur more definition. DSLR F-stop adjustment can deal with this, but see what your compact or smartphone can do.
- If your ISO wasn’t correctly set and your image was dark, you can lighten the exposure in small increments to see if this helps.
- Always remember you can undo. If you are concerned,
workon a copy of your photograph.
Using Sport Mode with a Kitten or Young Cat
This picture is from the same busy photographic session as Connor (above) and in spite of the fact there is a person’s shoe in the way, I loved how I was lucky enough to capture Betty’s face framed by her out stretched paws.
When trying to photograph young cats and kittens and before you learn about the right settings and adjustments to make ‘on the fly’ a great way to catch activity and fun is using ‘sport’ mode.
This example illustrates how sometimes continuous shooting mode can help you capture a great shot. It won’t always work or be perfect, but with lively young animals (or children) you might find the perfect shot without being a professional photographer.
SPORT MODE: “Sport mode (continuous action shot mode) will usually automatically set the camera to increase the shutter speed in order to freeze the action in the frame”Webopedia
You are not relying on your own idea of what the settings should be, you are using your camera’s own mechanism to help.
Kittens move fast and it takes practice to take good pictures so don’t be discouraged. This mode works for lively puppy photographs and other pets as well. If it wriggles,
This cropped version of Betty’s picture still has the human foot visible but I have taken out a lot of empty
I hope you will feel encouraged to experiment by getting closer if your next pet photographs, and if you have any questions, let me know in the comments.