Beginner Cat Photo Skills

Smartphone Drama With Simple Lighting and Your Cat

Today’s how to was a totally unexpected capture although it looks as if it was carefully composed and took so long to set up. The photograph shows a dramatic soft light, (carefully placed for dramatic effect) and a single cat surrounded by deep shade. I can hear your questions now. Didn’t it take an age to set up? How fancy is your lighting setup, it must have cost a lot of money?

Dramatic Cat Capture Revealed

The truth is I ended up with an awesome cat selfie using my new smartphone and a single lamp. The lesson I want to share is be prepared to take photographs in any kind of light, not just the light your camera tells you is the right kind.

Here the light was the only one left on in the living room before the family went to bed. Toulouse the tabby cat jumped up on to his favourite perch which is a mushroom shape at the top of the living room cat tree. I just HAD to try and grab the shot, wouldn’t you?!

Tabby looking towards a light

The smartphone was looking for light and found it on Toulouse.

How I Did It

  1. I turned my iPhone12 to Portrait mode and left it there. I did not have time to add any fancy effects.
  2. I made sure my subject, Toulouse, was as central as I could get in the ‘phone window.
  3. I took a dozen photos really quickly. (You might use burst mode).

TIP If you try this kind of shot remember to make sure (if you can) that your background is reasonably plain and uncluttered.

To show you how effective this kind of photography can be, I took a couple of photos of the shabby chic cat tree the following morning. You can see how I managed such a great shot. The tree is nearly 2 metres (6 ft) tall and the photo perch Toulouse perched on is the high mushroom shape. As you can see, we have had this tree a long time and Toulouse is the first cat ever to use the top spot on a regular basis.

With the curtain drawn there was no reflection from a window and the lamp is about a meter (1 yard) down on your left hand side on the breakfast bar as you look towards the cat tree and the window.

Image of a cat tree by a window

Take A Chance On The Light

My top tip is to try anything and everything with your smartphone.

You have nothing to loose and everything to gain by being fearless with your photos when the light is less than perfect. Try out shots in the half-light, or even moonlight. You will find yourself amazed at how fantastic the results can be. If they work let me know, I’d love to see them!

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21 thoughts on “Smartphone Drama With Simple Lighting and Your Cat”

  1. What a gorgeous photo of Toulouse! I love the way the light and the shadows play on him. The dimmer lighting gives him a bit of a film noir movie star kind of feeling. I will have to try that kind of lighting with Dexter. It is a great idea to just be brave and take photos in any lighting.
    -Purrs from your friends at

  2. I love that portrait of Toulouse! What a lovely mood. I’m amazed at the photos the newer iPhones are capable of taking. My daughter has a 12, and I keep going back and forth on upgrading (yup. I’m a dinosaur. I still have an old 8 as I have my SLR nearby, but boy I can’t argue with the convenience of an iPhone). Great tips as always! Pinning to share!

  3. That is a great photo! You’re right about taking a chance and experimenting with different lights! I made a drive-in movie diorama for a commercial photoshoot and ended up lighting it with a flashlight. The result was fantastic.

  4. Great job–that certainly adds a bunch of drama. My dream is to once have a light good enough to go and do some night forest photography–light painting.

  5. Oh my, look at Toulouse! So dramatic. I love this photo. Sometimes the best work comes by happenstance. I’m sorry to hear about your blogger friend. I understand, as my Dad suffered a stroke recently. Although no physical outward signs of change, it’s a massive impact and takes it day by day. Praying for your friend and that she makes a full recovery with time and lots’ of TLC.

  6. Great photo and thanks as always for your tips, I am slowly using them with my camera and I think some pics are turning out better than in the past.
    I am so sorry to hear about your blogger friend, sending prayers their way

  7. I’m always inspired by your creativity in photography. I love how you were able to capture Toulouse in this most unexpected but beautiful way. I’ll have to look for these opportunities as well with Henry.

    I’m sharing your great tips with my dog and pet friends.

  8. Toulouse looks quite regal. I love that…nothing to lose but a very small bit of space on my phone, and temporarily at that! One of my favorite photos of my dog, Kitsune, is him with some interesting lighting, sitting on a chair with the light coming in on him from the window above.

  9. DOOD…thiz fotoz total lee awesum….tho we thinked de drama
    waz cauz sum one knocked over de lamp….ooopz ‼️😺

  10. That is a stunning photo of Toulouse indeed! I was so sad to learn that Jean had a stroke, I sure hope there will be some recovery.

  11. That is a beautiful photo
    It is very sad about Jean. She has had so many medical problems and deserved a break. I hope she will get some improvement over time.

  12. We too, will miss The Canadian Cats, its such a sad reason for the blogging to have to stop. We have them all in our prayers. Strokes are such robbers of the lives we love.

    That is a most pawsome image/selfie of Toulouse! He looks so regal up there!

  13. That photo of Toulouse most certainly IS dramatic. Good tip to take a chance on the lighting … nothing to lose, right? 🙂

    We were so sad to hear about Jean’s stroke. We are glad Shoko, Tyebe, and their dad are all okay, and are sending many purrs for them, and Mom Jean.


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