Beginner Cat Photo Skills

How to Take a Effective Tabby Cat Portrait

I had the opportunity to take some photographs of our neighbour cat Honey. She is a small tabby with a fiery attitude as you might remember from this fierce cat post last year. I wanted to take some portraits that included spring type greenery and she paused behind the flowering vine on top of our fence so I grabbed my camera!

I had to stand very quietly, Honey may be a strong character but, like any cat, she will run if afraid. My favourite setting for cats if they might move is Aperture Priority (Av). If there was a risk of sudden movement Av (Nikon A) has always served me well.

You might prefer to try a manual setting. As long as you are still and able to judge your light and shutter speed you should be able to take a great photo in this type of situation.

Honey The Tabby Strikes a Pose

The first photo I took is this one of Honey looking up and away from me. The composition is really nice and I was able to hold my zoom lens steady and keep her eyes reasonably sharp. There is not too much foliage around her features and she is framed by the leaves not ‘hiding’ within them.

Honey Looking At The Trees

Honey stayed on her perch, and I thought it would be nice to show you the different types of photographs I was able to capture. You can decide which ones you think worked best.

I have given each a title so that you can look for them rather than me say ‘the one above’, or ‘the one below this paragraph’ which might make you go cross eyed. Each is interesting in its own way, I think.

Honey Looks Up Close-Up

As you can see, Honey was surrounded by leaves and it was a challenge to keep my focus point on her and not on dozens of leaves and flowers around her. If you have a DSLR or compact you will realise that the focus points might struggle to find Honey amongst the leaves and keep leaping for a white flower or a group of leaves instead.

Two Shots Close Together But Different

Closeup of a tabby cat face showing nose and whiskers
Honey’s Watchful Stare

Honey’s Watchful Stare‘ and ‘Watchful Stare Closeup‘ were taken very close together. I just zoomed in a little bit for a more dramatic look at her intense eyes. You can see lots of out of focus leaves around the face but this allowed me to focus clearly on her fur and eyes. I am not sure the closeup photograph works really well but she has such an intense look I had to try and capture it. Do you think the leaves add to her portrait?

Extreme Closeup of a tabby cat face showing nose and whiskers
Watchful Stare Closeup

I was pleased to be able to show you a selection but want to finish with one smartphone photograph. Can you see the difference between the ‘phone colours and the DSLR? I did not make any colour adjustments, my only changes were a bit of sharpening in Affinity Photo RAW. The distant photo is useful because it shows you how high up Honey was!

Smartphone photo of a tabby on a high fence.

11 thoughts on “How to Take a Effective Tabby Cat Portrait”

  1. total lee awesum fotoz !!! mum did grate !!! 🙂

    hope everee onez doin soooper and heerz two
    a grate week a head 🙂 ♥

  2. Honey is gorgeous! Those close-ups are stunning! I absolutely love the peeping through the leaves/greens pics. I think it adds not only depth from a natural frame, but something very raw and wild, which is stunning for pet portraits. I do find I can do this with my DSLR better than my iPhone, although, I do have to give iP props as my 14Pro does do some nice work. I do hear my DSLR groaning sometimes as it struggles to find that focal point, but once it does, it’s fabulous. Always great photo tips, Marjorie! Sharing!

  3. Oh, Marjorie, she’s gorgeous! I definitely need to learn how better to focus on my cats and not their surroundings.

  4. You captured some great snaps of Honey. I like the first and last photos the best. I love how the nature and greenery frame her face and body surrounding her. Honey looks like such a diva in her element. Nice job!

  5. Oh my goodness, what a wonderful subject in beautiful Honey! It’s amazing the personality jumps off the screen. I’m also amazed at how much the colors differ between DSLR and your phone. WOW! That’s a good testament for a DSLR.

    Once again another great lesson, which I’m sharing.

  6. Gorgeous Honey!!
    What a beauty she is!

    I too cannot decide if I have a favorite or not…they are all amazing! Yes, what a difference the ‘real’ camera makes as opposed to the phone.

  7. I could see uses and places for each of these pictures, dependent on what they were accompanying, be it story or article. Lovely each one, and very effective use of the camera settings too. Have tried a monopod for your camera, to help steady on difficult shots where longer exposures are called for?
    Quick and easy to use and carry.

  8. These are fabulous, Marjorie! And once again, you’ve explained the process and given great tips in a way that makes such good sense. 🙂

  9. The leaves do not distract. The green mixing with her golden colors is so dramatic; how could I ever choose one close-up over another. (Surely you jest!) And obviously the DSLR photos are superior to the phone photo, at least in this case. Yet again, you’ve outdone yourself.


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