Written by Marjorie Dawson

Captivate Instagram With Good Pet Lighting

Captivate Instagram With Good Pet Lighting

It’s no good, I am tired of waiting for the pet focused Instagram challenges in the 52 Assignments book! Right now I am skipping ahead to pet lighting for Instagram, or #Pet 1 Lighting (Assignment 43) as it’s called in the book. This I know readers and IG users will be interested in.

Why Pet Lighting for Instagram?

Why not just ‘pets’ or cats’ for a single subject for the challenge, as we have seen with Highlights, or Architecture?

Well for pets at least, there are two separate animal focused Instagram challenges (2 is composition which I will cover next time). The first caught my eye as I have recently been pushing the boundaries of my own skills with my iPhone 12 as it’s about light and lighting.

Pet Lighting for Instagram. Tabby kitten looking out of a window
Kitten by a window – natural light

Top Lighting Tips

  • Work with plenty of light for cat photos. Either outside, in a catio or by a window. Make sure the light is not bright and direct sunshine.
  • Capture the catchlight that brings your cat to life. Without it Adam Juniper says eyes can be ‘glassy and lifeless’ without it, and I agree. Sometimes you will not get a catchlight but the photo has what you need, like the image of Tibby the kitten above curiously looking outside.
  • Make sure your background compliments your cat, that it’s tidy or that you can crop out or blur distracting elements. You can do a lot with modern smartphones using ‘portrait’ mode, or one of the many photo editing apps like Photoshop Camera for the soft focus bokeh effect.
  • Use burst to grab a selection of shots so you can pick the best one.

I created a Bokeh post to help you try it yourself.

The author of 52 Assignments – Instagram, Adam Juniper encourages you in #Pet: 1 Lighting to ensure that your cat (or other animal) is engaged and interested to help you capture a really good moment.

A cat looking off into the distance will give you a few shots but capturing that important ‘catchlight‘ brings their look to life. Check out the good light in this gorgeous, if grumpy, cat.

Pet Lighting for Instagram
Natural light and a catch light in the eye.

As a bonus on some ‘phones, you can shoot in RAW format which gives you more opportunity to adjust your smartphone photos later.

Modern Smartphones and Light

As an addition to the books advice, I want to add a few reflections on how recent smartphone camera technology has raced ahead of the book with pet lighting for Instagram.

Recent smartphones for both iPhone and Android, are much more capable of using low light than before. As you can see in this sample image of Toulouse from a recent post, the only light is a single lamp lower down in the image.

With my old iphone 6S I would have struggled and probably failed to capture an image like this but, with the newer iPhone 12, I tried and succeeded in an atmospheric shot that looks good.

Cat in dim smartphone light. Pet Lighting for Instagram
Smartphone Low Light

Hashtag Tips for Pets

The book gives you plenty of helpful hashtags. If you aim for a general audience use: #pet #love #intheeyes

Or you can be more specific and focus on a specific hashtag to reach different cat people: #Siamese #RescueCat #catphotography #tuxedocats #wickedcatwednesday

Filter Recommendations for #Pets: 1

Finally, the filter recommendation is simple as you aim is to clarify your image not add any elborate effects for a simple portrait. Clarendon is the recommend go to filter to try, but, try anything that increases contrast, sharpness and saturation in your photograph.

14 thoughts on “Captivate Instagram With Good Pet Lighting”

  1. I so loved looking in Bear’s eyes. His looks always cracked me up and his eyes were always full of life. {sigh} I miss that boy.

    • Thank you, I appreciate your comment. I learned about catchlights first from decorative painting. An animal would look ‘lifeless’ but the smallest dab of white paint in the eye and it sprang to life.

  2. Great photo info! I always struggle with lighting with Henry. I’ll definitely give these tips a go on my Android phone. One of these days I’ll be able to take an okay photo of the fur kid. Thanks again!

  3. I don’t have a Clarendon filter on my Android phone. Lighting remains the bane of my existence! I try to take photos w/ my Samsung Galaxy but every indoor photo comes out horrible, way too yellowish and dark. We have very poor lighting in the house, it’s so dark even w/ all the blinds & curtains up it’s still too dark for good photos. Unless I’m doing a formal photo session with my lighting equipment it will always be too dark and have that weird yellowish hue. ) – :

  4. Awesome tips, Marjorie! Some of the cat rooms at PAWS don’t have any natural light, so I have to compensate/adjust.

  5. Clarendon, is that on the iPhone?

    Lighting sure is one of the most important things to pay heed to. isn’t it?


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