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 August 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 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
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.
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
victimfriend 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.
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!
Marjorie is a motorbike riding blogger and award winning cat photographer who believes that everyone can create impressive cat photographs and fun movies with the camera they carry.
She is a Professional Member of the Cat Writers Association, Kuykendall Image Award winner and published photographer at the Guardian newspaper.