Capturing Cats: A Photography Project Collection

banner of blue and grey stripes

If you are a beginner cat photographer and looking for fun projects to improve your skills, you are in the right place. I have created a fun photography project collection that you can try. I began them a couple of years ago but they have been helpfully revised for you to enjoy in one place today.

These projects are designed to inspire you to explore new or different techniques while capturing your cat’s looks and peersonality. It doesn’t matter if you are using a professional DSLR or Mirrorless canera, or your favourite smartphone, I know that these projects will help you boost your photography confidence to create fantastic and artistic cat portraits.

You do not need to be a professional to succeed in taking great cat photographs with this photography project collection

The choice of project, and the time you take is up to you. Your cat will be the perfect model whichever project you start with. I am a cat photographer and you can be one too!

How to Create a Fun Cat Photo

A fun challenge for beginners using their cameras. How to create your own cat portrait and do it well. There are lots of easy photo suggestions and tips bundled together to make a fun challenge for you and your cat.

Nothing says ‘I am a Cat and Proud’ more than a cool portrait you took yourself. I help you find a good place to start, tell you how I took my own cat photographs (it might help) and how to try out taking an abstract cat photo. This works really well if you have an uncooperative meowdel you are trying to capture in a successful portrait.

A Tabby Cat on profile with a soft focus background in this photography project collection
Toulouse – DSLR portrait with bokeh

Creative Fantasy Filters Photos With Cats

You will have some fun with your cats and your camera and you don’t need expensive new equipment to do it. Compacts and DSLRs are welcome in this camera projectm and I spotlight some great ideas for smartphones too. You may need to download your photos to a computer or tablet via a cable, card or wifi to work at a bigger scale, if you want to, but this is also a fun smartphone project with inspiring ideas.

  • Filters in smartphone apps get better and better all the time, so explore some fun apps after you check out this post.
Smartphone photograph filter app changes a photograph into a drawing
Toulouse with a smartphone filter

Create Stunning Bokeh

What is bokeh? It is the lovely softness or blur that you can create, or add with a filter, to allow your cat’s face and figure to stand out from the background. It is one of the favourite photography effects every DSLR user enjoys. The effect is different from ‘soft focus’ which gives the whole photo a hazy blur. Wikipedia describes bokeh as “the quality of the blur produced in out-of-focus parts of an image”.

The effect can be replicated by a compact or smartphone camera so it is within the grasp of every camera user. Enjoy the photo tips!

Portrait photograph of a tabby cat
Dot Kitten

Create A Fun Free Collage

One of the favourites in the photography project collection! There are lots of versatile apps that can help you create a collage so I went with the free version on Canva which will allow you to make something the size of a greetings card or a poster with just one template. This is aimed at the absolute beginner with few ideas about what to do and where to start, so give it a try.

My theme was Christmas for this post but the free backgrounds and decorations give you lots of scope to be creative. I included a short how-to video too.

A cat collage with a blue bokeh background

I hope you find a project you will try in this week’s post. If you have sany questions email me at thecrew AT dashkitten DOT com or comment below the post.

Video Basics for Cat Moviemakers

Blue banner showing a hand holding a smartphone, with a cat tapping the had.

If you’re a pet lover or a blogger looking to capture the best cat or dog videos you can, but you don’t know where to start with pet video, let me help. I have compiled a selection of video tips and tricks to help you build your moviemaking confidence, in your own time and at your own pace. If you get stuck, please comment under the video, I am happy to help.

We are an official Amazon affiliate which costs you nothing but allows us to donate to our US rescue Place for Cats since Amazon Smile has been removed..

I am including my own videos that have been shot with a smartphone and edited in both iMovie (free) and Screenflow (paid) software to show you that video making is not intimidating. I know that if I can do it, you can too and have a lot of fun.

I have lots of tips to share so let’s get started.

Whether you’re shooting videos of cats or a product for a sponsor, this helpful advice is applicable to all aspiring pet movie-makers.

Starter Smartphone Movie Tips

Smartphone film making basics are easy to learn. I look at everything from the beginner’s perspective because I was a beginner once and I love sharing the tips that will be short-cuts to your skill building journey.

To get better faster, adopt the attitude of a good film director from the start. Learn your smartphone’s tools and make good use of them to crop, add captions, edit video clips and add suitable. After all even Stephen Spielberg had to start somewhere and I believe he would have loved making smartphone movies!

Kitten tapping on a computer while owner edits

Be Patient as You Learn

The first and most important thing for your smartphone filmmaking kit is patience. A cat stalks its prey patiently, you study your smartphone apps in the same way. Research has shown that you can learn anything at any age and it takes the same amount of time. [Real science that, not senior cat wisdom!]

While you think kid’s pick things up super fast, they aren’t tech wizards. They simply apply themselves and work and work at it until they can use technology. Turn your smartphone on, find the movie-making app – and learn all you can.

Mobile movie making is something we can all do.

How to Make a Video On Your Phone

Even as a newbie you can achieve a high level of video excellence when you make a short movie with a smartphone. Smartphone video production is not scary, you just take it step by step! If you feel uncertain and want more security try a tripod like Joby. Their smartphone tripod is small and very portable.

Remember that when you start movie making, your first short films may be for your own pleasure, or sharing with family and friends. With a relaxed pet movie there is no pressure, just the pleasure of showing off your pet as you learn to frame shots, judge sound and keep your smartphone camera steady! You might want to show off a new kitten and make people laugh or showcase a foster to help with adoption.

This short video for Beloved Pet cat steps is the result of a bit of practice and cat fun. It combines stills and video clips from a smartphone which were planned in advance. I had an idea of what I wanted; a simple video showing our favourite cat stairs in action – with cat models. It is a supplement to a product post that was not sponsored the cats just love the steps.

How to Hold Smartphones for Video Recording

There should be a plenty of tips about holding your phone, its ‘orientation’ for different types of movie making.  If you need a couple of examples, we shot our Duckling movie by holding our phone upright (portrait mode). We turned our smartphone horizontally (landscape mode) in our fun Tabcat movie!

TIP Many popular smartphone video recording apps including Instagram and Facebook allow you to hold your phone in the portrait position.

Beginner Smartphone Movie Tips
Portrait (upright) is now a popular format.

Unsteady Smartphone Clips

Everyone wobbles, so don’t sweat the small stuff! It happens. What you can do is avoid too much distracting shake video with this simple idea. 

  1. Brace yourself against a wall, 
  2. A doorway, or 
  3. The back of a chair.  

A little movement isn’t so bad, it shows you are really there. Point your ‘phone at your cat(s) and start practising. Don’t let something small like worry about a wobble stop you from making cat movies, and you don’t need a fancy smartphone outfit like influencers use! One suggestion I do have is a Joby Gorillapod. I am getting one for when I start presenting to camera, they are so versatile and lightweight.

20% Discount on full online catalogue Coupon: JOBY20WG

Good Light Makes For Good Video

Smartphones are called smart for a reason, the quality of your images will be great and with new improved ‘phones the quality can be amazing. Practice shooting outside in natural light. If it’s an indoor pet movie, try working inside near a window or on a bright day. Bright doesn’t men sunshine, it means a diffused light you are comfortable in.

Many smartphones now have an exposure lock. Let’s see how this can help. An iPhone or Android will automatically focus and check the exposure of your image. This is a big help for a quick still shot but when you are recording one person, or a pet it might make your clips look jerky so turn on the autofocus. Here’s the iPhone how-to:

  • Lightly press your iPhone screen
  • The words AE/AF LOCK and a yellow square will appear (they remain on the screen)
  • Shoot your movie clips
  • Lightly press the screen again to clear the autofocus from the iPhone

ANDROID EXPOSURE LOCK: Tap on the area of the screen where you want to focus. This will cause the camera to adjust the focus and exposure to that point. Once you’ve got the focus and exposure set to your liking, press and hold the screen with your finger. This will lock the focus and exposure in place.

Quora Question

Sound in Your Smart Movie

To get clear and clean audio, even as a beginner, you need to either have the smartphone close enough to record your pet or person clearly or, invest in a portable microphone. You will find plenty of deals online, don’t just look at Amazon.

A smartphone user who has busy stretches of time offered me a tip. If you don’t want to be interrupted while you are shooting video see if you can turn of ‘airplane mode’.

Aeroplane modeaeroplane modeflight mode, offline mode, or standalone mode is a setting available on many smartphones, portable computers, and other electronic devices that, when activated, suspends radio-frequency signal transmission by the device, thereby disabling Bluetooth, telephony, and Wi-Fi – Wikipedia

Editing On Your Smartphone

Take your time when you are learning to edit your movie. Words like cutting and trimming are used when people refer to smartphone movie editing as well as editing on a computer. I recommend downloading your first clips to a computer and editing using a larger screen although this is not essential. Use the software that comes with your computer like iMovie or the Windows equivalent and get the feel for editing.. 

If you are on the move and want to edit using your ‘phone screen, take time to familiarise yourself with your smartphone’s software functions and any limitations before you start working. It will take away a lot of the stress if you can create a short impression of a pet show or a cat doing agility trials using software you are familiar with.

Practice Video Skills

No one learns to drive a car in five minutes, and no-one becomes a good movie maker that quickly either. My best tip is to sit down with your smartphone (any type, any price bracket) and focus in getting to know what it does. Take a video of your cat’s paw in closeup, learn to zoom in on whiskers, point your smartphone outside, inside, upside down. Shoot a cat in motion, or sit them beside a product you are doing a sponsored post for.

Practice = confidence, even for a novice movie maker.

Check my other video posts in the links at the bottom and boost your own video skills. Once you practice a little and learn a little, you will take bigger and bigger steps towards video confidence.

Video Skills For Pet Lovers – Top Tips Links

If you only have a smartphone, this is great for movie making. We used a combination of iPhone6 and GoPro for these videos! So check up on what skills you need and jump in pet people!

Popular videos that hit the spot may not be perfect but they have one thing in common, they tell a story. We need the basic storytelling skills and then we can fly. Read on to find out how.

As films shot on smartphones are a huge part of social media for personal stories and rescues, let us help you with that right now. Take it step by step with us. We hope we can encourage everyone who loves their own cats to make a movie and have some fun. Let’s have some pocket movie fun!

How We Used Our Video Skills – Inspiration

Other video making skill builders:

Colour Pop Image Fun

Outline of a computer screen on a plain background

I am creating a movie tutorial on how to make ‘colour pops’ of your photos. It’s a bit of fun and can help you create a distinctive avatar, logo or greetings card. I was going to focus on cat photography, then I remembered I had a gorgeous Hyacinth I could experiment with and, as you can see, it really makes for a fun colour pop image. Here’s a quick preview of the kind of fun you can have.

Toulouse in Dramatic Colour

I am not including the camera specifications as you edit the photo quite a bit. I will cover all the details in my fun ‘how-to’ in my blog post but, to to give you a way into colour popping, a good starting point is a sharp colour photo. Always use a digital copy of your photo – NOT the original. I admit tht Toulouse’s photo isn’t pin sharp but is it clear and colourful which is what you need to look for.

Boosting the intensity of the colours to a slightly ‘unreal’ level will make your colour patches really effective too.

Tabby cat walking towards the camera
Tabby cat walking towards the camera

Hyacinth Drama

If you want to use your cat as a model, try the eyes and nose, like Toulouse here, or a highlighting a bright collar or a harness. If you don’t have a great cat photo you want to use, you might want to use the techniqueon some flowers, or a gift box that has bright splashes of colour in it. Using the technique you can be selective about where you use the eraser to rub away the layer and which colours you leave behind.

These samples show you how much fun you can have with this simple idea using layers. I hope you like them. Look out for the post on colour popping later this month!

Purple hyacinth flower.
Purple hyacinth flower.

Moments of Kitten Stillness

Blue background and image of a camera on the right-hand side.

Today’s kittens are lucky captures from my recent kitten photoshoot. I did spend time trying to capture fun kitten antics (like last week) but sometimes the kittens seem almost thoughtful with moments of kitten stillness as if they want to watch rather than be tiny hell raising hooligans. I try to get some of these quieter shots too, I hope you enjoy them.

Kitten Lenses

I tried to make use of both my longer lens (Canon 55/250 mm) and my 50 mm. The 50mm lens takes sharper photographs but doesn’t zoom so you have to “zoom with your feet” which is tricky with a room full of kittens. I managed to get around this by sitting down or kneeling carefully and letting kittens come to me. The longer lens came in useful for kittens causing mayhem further away.

My first share is of two lovely tabbies. I did not capture their names, just their poses but they were happy to lounge on one of the visitors who took photos as well. You can see a bit f smartphone top left. The front tabby seems to be wondering. What? Should I play? Or, should I nap in the sun? The wand toy suggests this moment of stillness may not last long.

Kittens resting on denim jeans looking to the left in a moment of stillness
ISO 100 50 mm f2 1/1400

The second kitten was a really lucky capture as I struggled with exposure a bit for the darker shades of fur.

A tired kitten begins to fall asleep on a sneaker, enjoying some sunshine in the middle of the noisy hubbub. The person sat on the floor didn’t move while the kitten napped and you can see the sun shining on the fur of a well looked after kitten waiting for his forever home.

Kitten resting on a 'converse' style trainer
ISO 400 135mm f5 1/250

The third kitten, another black boy, shows that a closely cropped photograph can focus on a lovely kitten face once the busy and unsuccessful background is removed (I am including the second unedited shot). The original photo looks unfocused and is not a success, but see how it is transformed by cropping. The black kitten’s eye is sharp and his fur clear as he watches other kittens running around. I was pleased to see I got the settings right!

You can see three layers in the photograph. Closest to you there is out of focus carpet then, like the filling on a sandwich, a sharply in focus kitten and, beyond him, a sightly overexposed background where a pink shirt is catching the sun. It’s not perfect, but I love how quiet and thoughtful the kitten is.

Have you ever taken kitten photos? Do you find them harder to snap that more grown up cats?

Kittens resting on carpet looking sleepily to the left
ISO 320 50mm f3. 1/60
  • The Snapseed filter can improve photos on your smartphone.
  • Cropping for success

Dash Kitten CWA Success 2023

How to Banner for Dash Kitten Tutorials

Late last week the Cat Writers Association announced the winners of their Certificates of Excellence (CoE) for the blogging year 2022. The Certificates are much sought after as they confirm the best work done by cat artists, authors, photographers, artists and bloggers during the year. Let me tell you about Dash Kittens CWA success.

Judging can be tough as the judges, who are Professional Members, have detailed criteria they need to use when judging each entry.

Thankful Thursday Graphic at Dash Kitten

This year Dash Kitten achieved thrilling success in posts that included a review, a tutorial and most importantly for me personally, a Certificate of Excellence for the Blog. I have truly stiff competition for the Muse® Medallion so I am really just happy the blog is finally in the best shape to help new and aspiring cat photographers, and the Cat Writers’ Judges agree.

Cat Photography in the CWA Contest

For me the biggest news was that this year there are 30+ photographs submitted for the Single Image category which is astonishing and gratifying. Yes, cat photos are now a serious thing and every submission can be proud to receive their CoE for the fine work done. The bar rises every year and the photos get better and better.

This is my own successful submission for the Single Image category. I did not submit an entry for the Photo Series for 2022. I did see that one of our favourite cat blogs Kitties Blue has two sets of images in the photo series which is absolutely fantastic.

Snarling cat at dusk with dim light. Award winning Image for the CWA awards

Blog Post Success

Cat Steps Review

I rarely do review posts as, frustratingly, we are too far away for many sponsors to send products but, sometimes, I am able lucky enough to showcase local New Zealand’s craftspeople and manufacturers.

These steps were custom made to our requirements and they have been a dream come true for our older cats. As you can see, Jack is happy to model his very own ‘Cat Stairs’ from Beloved Pet Furniture. Natural wood, not plastic, and made in New Zealand.

Cat on Carpet Cat Steps

Celebration How-To Award

My most important CWA success of 2022 was my Celebration Image How-To. The long post includes two videos and detailed instructions for adventuring into basic layers using your own photo app.

It’s also a perfect way to create a tribute to a cat who has passed away, comforting a cat lover as they create an image with a lot of love and care. It means a lot to me and I love this tribute image from the post. This is Dot who helped me win my very first Muse® – an unforgettable moment.

Final layered portrait of celebration photograph of tabby cat. Award winning Image for the CWA awards
  • Mailing List members get a free eBook of the blog post which has been popular.

Dazzlng Your Friends

I sat down and thought about how I would want to impress my own friends (and what I needed to do to succeed to do this!) The result was this post which assembles the best ideas and top tips including good focus and the importance of light. The post includes some of my favourite cat photographs too. I figured we could all use a few shortcuts and this fits the bill.

Focus Dots as seen in a camera viewfinder CWA success image

Fosters For The Win

I know that many of us foster, or know people who foster cat and kittens. We may also know that, sometimes, these peope are not convinced their photos are good enough to help their fosters get adopted. I disagree which prompted this post.

I just hope this CWA success proves to fosters that perfect isn’t what matters. In the post suggest tips and share samples of other fosters photos. A foster’s smartphone can capture the perfect photo that gets that gets a cat into its forever home, because its the moment matters, not pin sharp focus.

Fosters pick up your ‘phones. Your moment is now (or when you can catch your kitten!)

Photograph Your Foster Kittens
Jet, our foster who became Jethro.

CWA Awards Night

The Muse® Medallions and other highly coveted awards, including many special awards, are announced live and you can follow on YouTube and Facebook. The Special Awards have important sponsors and include subjects such as cat health, cat safety and senior cat care.

The Awards Ceremony is online on October 21 at 7 pm EST (USA time) 

The Perfect Kitten Adoption Photo

Blue background with line drawings of two people holding cameras to their eyes

I want to share with you what I think is the best photo I took at my recent kitten photo shoot for small rescue Feral Nation here in New Zealand. Plus, I have a bonus second kitten photo with a definite aww factor.

I will tell you about our Cat Writers Association awards success during the week but, I want to congratulate Kitties Blue on their splendid achevements in the writing, blogging and photography categories. They are amazing, well done Janet, Tom and the Crew.

Kitten Photo Shoot

Full disclosure. I took literally hundreds of photographs and many of them are so blurry you can’t even see a kitten!

This would have dented my confidence but I did manage to capture enough images to edit into shape for showcasing the sweet kittens for their adoption appeals on Facebook and adoptathons! It is always an honour to help kittens find homes.

I present my absolute and most favourite shot of the day…….

If you want tips of photographing foster kittens check this post; fosters are epic photographers.

Taking the Best Kitten Photos

For this photo shoot (remember I am not the world best or most experienced cat and kitten photographer!) I used Aperture Priority (Nikon A) all of the time on my Canon, with Continuous Focus.

Because the kittens are so fast and I worked around people playing and cuddling the kittens I knew I would have a lot of cat photos that wouldn’t work out!

I tried to balance my success rate by switching between using camera raw (which gives more opportunities to adjust and sharpen later) and shooting in JPEG format – for kitten supersonic speed.

am glad I did because a couple of really good photos looked so dark but I was able to adjust them in Affinity Photo’s raw editor and they looked lovely, like this one.

I hope I have taken enough good photos to help with the adoption of the kittens. Will you join me in wishing these little kittens lots of luck?

In Memoriam

We lost a lovely and true friend recently with the passing of Valentine. You will find a lovely tribute to Valentine from our friend Erin at the link (f you missed it last week). Val isn’t blogging any more but his memory is treasured by so many of us.

Quick Eye Level Cat Portraits

Blue background with line drawings of two people holding cameras to their eyes

If you can’t get to the ground, bring it up to you with eye level cat portraits!

Today’s Portraits – On Bannisters!

Our back deck has a wooden railing that is a popular lounging and strolling spot and even senior Sienna makes the leap, as you can see. There is there is a platform that gives the cats a helping paw up, if they need it, but the cats are often happy to make the jump.

I discovered that resting my camera on the railing to take photographs will give a unique and fun perspective on cats. I always tell folks to ‘get low’ to help you get a great cat photo but how about if your bring the ‘low’ up to your level? This could be a railing, the edge of a stair or a wall of some kind.

  • Look for a location your cat enjoys, a window ledge, a wall or halfway up the stairs.

Settings: I used my DSLR Aperture Priority (Nikon A) and an ISO of 200. This gave me an f-stop of f4.5. If your background is a bit darker you can try ISO 400. This will give you a bit more light or you can try to add or remove a bit of exposure compensation.

For a smartphone shot, it pays to know how to use your Burst mode. This will allow you to take lots of photos and delete the ones you don’t need once you find the shot you like best.

Exposure compensation in a bit more detail

Neighbour cat Taz

I especially like this capture of Toulouse walking towards the camera. The original was shot in camera raw mode and I pushed the settings quite a bit so the effect is more textured.

Have you taken taken portraits at eye level. Do you think it is a fun way to show off your cats? Or do they prefer that you capture them when they snooze?

A Crossword Birthday

It’s Dash Kitten Dad’s birthday! Paul runs his own blog on the theme of cryptic crosswords. He is a renowned professional ‘crossword setter’ in his spare time and you will find his crosswords in the BBC Music Magazine (classical music with a little jazz) and British national newspapers under the pseudonym Phi.

Paul’s photo is one I took that features in his bio at The Guardian newspaper. Our tortie Sienna does her best to help him by sitting on his lap as he works!

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