Beginner Cat Photo Skills

One Essential Black Cat Photo Tip

Today’s post is an earlier one that I have combined with extra information and some new black cat photographs to celebrate Black Cat Appreciation Day. This is one easy tip and it will transform your photos really quickly [Updated 2023]

When I was struggling with black fur I did a lot of online searches and found a page with a great quote that helped me.

“Capturing detail in a dark subject set against a lighter background presents a challenge of balancing exposure: You want to record detail in the darker areas but don’t want to lose detail in the lighter tones”.

This balance is achieved with one thing. Whether you are taking cute black kitten photos or have amibitions to show a black cat modelling for a product shoot; photographing black objects, including cats, needs ………

Light!

Black cat taken with a smartphone

Any bright and friendly light will do but here’s the kind of light you are looking for:

Natural Outdoor or Catio Light

An overcast day is perfect for pictures of kittens, or a single adult cat. Sunny days are not quite so good because the shadows are much stronger. But, there is a workround for deep shadows. If you can find bright shade (I know it sounds silly) under the shade of a tree, or bushes, the ambient light will improve your black cat’s fur.

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.

A simple photo head and shoulders of a Black Cat

Why Is Natural Light Best?

It’s free! Make use of this valuable resource by researching what time of the day your own home or garden’s light is at its best. Check out morning and early evening for good light. Indoor black cats are stunning near a window.

  • Be ready to shoot when you know your own light is good, not when anyone else tells you it is. You know your light, your district and your own cats.
  • 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 respond to a flash.

Black absorbs light like a sponge so aim for a 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 in different lighting conditions. This will expand your black cat photo skills and teach you how light can help.

BONUS: You can experiment with definition in a photo editor. This works very well if you have shot portraits in the RAW format.

Black cat in diffused light

Winning With Black Cat Photographs

What makes black cats hard to photograph is, sometimes, your own mindset. You can’t just point the camera 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 cat love on social media.

Just as Phoebe does here. Let the black (or very dark brown) fur shine!

Black cat in bright sunshine

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24 thoughts on “One Essential Black Cat Photo Tip”

  1. Oh I adore black cats! Our last one, Binx, a feral we “adopted” or rather he adopted us…coming and going as he pleased, but stayed with us for years…was a gorgeous tuxedo. I loved taking pics of him, especially in the fall by the pumpkins and colorful leaves! I love your natural shot, it’s just so dimensional. Great tips as always! Pinning to my Shutterbuggin’ board to share!

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  2. These are terrific tips for photographing dark fur critters. I’m going to try the overcast one this weekend since we’re supposed to get lots of rain. You’re explanation of why bright sunny days aren’t the best for capturing black furry friends, is excellent. It seems like I’m doing that all too often. Now, I’ll look for a shady spot to snap a shot of Henry on those days. Excellent tips! I know they’ll help lots of pet parents who struggle as much as I do with photographing a dark-colored fur ball.

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  3. Those black furs can be a challenge but once you get the hang of it they are purrfect models. Thanks for joining our Thankful Thursday Blog Hop!

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  4. Pipo wasn’t really black, but he sure had a dark face…and while we had a big south facing window..he just hated seeing the camera…and I never used flash…so the precious few pics I have of him are just that, precious.

    Benji, whilst he is a dog, well , he has mostly black fur, and my best ‘selfies’ of him, are taken in diffused light, out in our yard.

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  5. Wonderful tips! I’ve noticed with my torties, natural light is what always shows off their beauty to the max.

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  6. Fantastic pictures of black cats! Tips on photographing them are always welcome, as I have several. They are indoor cats but I always like the natural light from the windows best.

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  7. There is truly nothing we can not achieve once we have the tools and the patience to practice. Lovely post, Marjorie!
    ERin

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  8. We don’t get any direct light! But the best pictures I’ve gotten of Ellie are all in the window! Of course, she’s spending more time there (don’t tell Latte) because Latte can’t find her in the window …. just like Bear used to hide in the window from Ellie!

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  9. Photographing black pets well can be quite a challenge, right? You got it figured out perfectly. I find that my black dogs best photograph in the snow.

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  10. Great tips – With our two torties, I quickly learned that natural light was the key to getting great photos of them. I have experimented with different artificial light options, but it simply doesn’t compare. There is something so magical and beautiful about a black cat in photos, isn’t there?

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  11. I used to struggle so much with Phoebe and taking nice photos. Practice and light were my best friends!

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  12. I’ve heard that owners who have black dogs face these same issues. Great tips! I don’t have any cats since my partner is very allergic to them, but if I could have a cat I’d for sure want to adopt a black one. They are so regal, and it makes me sad that they are so often over looked in shelters. Maybe shelter workers/volunteers could use these tips to improve adoption photos of the black cats looking for new homes!

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  13. These are excellent tips! As a owner of both a black dog and a black cat – LIGHT 💡 – is sooo important with pictures or it just doesn’t really look like much at all! Thank you for all the tips!

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  14. I bought a flash gun this year specifically to photograph my house panthers. Love your tips! 🐾❤️🐾

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  15. I had some black fur issues with Pipo, and Suki before him. Sometimes with the pups.
    Outside light for sure works the best,
    great post with good info.

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  16. Great tips, Marjorie! And when you don’t have any good light sources, try to focus on the cat’s eyes, right? 🙂

    The room where our adoptable pal Cho (featured on our blog today) has not natural light. Luckily, she is a great model!

    Reply

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