Beginner Cat Photo Skills, Cat Reviews and News

CATisfaction is Sunshine and a Black Cat

Black pets are a struggle for many to photograph. A black cat can become a black blob or lack definition if you aren’t careful. But, get a splash of sunshine and a black cat together and magic can happen.

Let me show you how so acheve the same kind of results with some quick tips and a #ThrowbackThursday image from 2020, and a reminder that our local Neko Ngeru cat cafe is opening in Lower Hutt soon!

Cat registration plate Neko Ngeru

Meet Black Cat Saxon

Saxon and his buddy Oscar were adopted in 2020, and the current crop of hopefuls are auditioning for a place at the cat cafe right now (2023). As you can see Saxon enjoyed all the cat and human company and loved the attention from visitors to the cafe (and being a cat photographer’s model!)

black cat in the sunshine, posing in the warmth. Colour Photograph.
Saxon in Colour ISO 200, F5.6 1/125

A Black Cat Photograph That Went ‘Right’

Part of this photograph is good fortune, Saxon posed perfectly and I was ready with my camera so seize your chance and take a photo. But, I admit that when I was learning, several years ago, this image was the accumulation of weeks and weeks and WEEKS of practising.

Why did this photograph work? Let me explain:

  • The cat was sat still (yes, that makes a difference).
  • Saxon posed himself, and I didn’t realise how good the picture came out until it appeared on my computer. The lesson here? Don’t delete anything until you have reviewed your images on a larger screen.
  • The focus is on the eye. Pet photographers say this is vitally important.
  • There is plenty of natural light. In fact, its sunshine and I was a hairsbreadth away from being overexposed.
  • So, I was lucky.
  • The picture is sharp. This can be down to shutter speed e.g. mine was 1/125. You may even go faster using 1/250 or 1/320. Or, it can be down to exposure. Here the photo is F.56 the lowest I could go at the time.
Black cat in a sunny spot taking his ease. Black and White Photography
Saxon in Black and White

Black Cats in Black and White

As I am exploring black and white photography, I decided to use Affinity Photo to transform Saxon’s cat photo into a black and white portrait.

I explore taking black and white photographs in an earlier post for plenty of tips.

In Affinity Photo I am able to adjust the amount of shade and tone in my photograph, check your own software (Photoshop Elements, GIMP), you will find them under ‘Adjustment Layers’. The temperature of the black and white image affects the shade and tone so as you adjust an image of your own, be careful not to overexpose highlights or make shadows into unsightly smudges.

Oh, and who is Saxon’s friend Oscar you say? Here he is:

Closeup of a ginger cat photographed in day time

21 thoughts on “CATisfaction is Sunshine and a Black Cat”

  1. My biggest problem is that we don’t have any natural light (three sides of our unit has no outside light). But I quickly learned that unless Ellie’s eyes are wide open, I’ll just get a black blob. An adorable and sweet black blob … but a black blob.

  2. I love the photo with Saxon. You can see his confidence radiate through the photo. I also like how the light bounces off his fur too. You gave great tips for taking photos. When taking pictures of my angel cats, I remember getting on their level and making sure the background looked clean, which helped me get better pictures. And I can’t forget to mention Oscar. What a sweet face!

  3. Saxon is quite the handsome boy. The picture captures his confidence and I like the way the light bounces off his fur. I agree, having him sit still definitely is half the battle when taking pet photos. Nice job! And I can’t leave out Oscar. Such a sweet face!

  4. Beautiful black kitty! I love black cats & dogs. They have a hard time getting adopted because they don’t always come out well in Intake photos, and shelter lighting usually isn’t great so they don’t get noticed as much as “brighter” pets. I used to put a brightly colored bandana on the pet or photograph them on a colorful blanket. It makes a difference!

  5. I just looove black cats. We have had a couple and my last was an “adopted” feral tuxedo cat we named Binx. He was so beautiful. He adopted us and then left one year…and then came back! My daughter worked with him and he finally would let us pet him. He was just beautiful. I loved taking pics of him, especially when he would jump up and walk on our car windshield when we came home (those were cute) and in the fall with the colorful leaves. They are not the easiest to capture due to the blackness of their fur. I love B&W photography, too! Your tips are great and can certainly pertain to dogs and other pets as well!

  6. Saxon is a very handsome kitty. I can tell he knows it too from this beautiful photo.

    I had a few black kitties. Such great personalities! I was always amazed that the few really good photos I have are those I thought would be horrible. They are the unexpected, but surprisingly well-lit, shots. I just wish I could more easily translate this to Henry. I do keep trying though. Maybe I should have him take his own photos.

    Excellent information! I’m sharing with all my pet parents!

  7. I do remember this post…By now all and any pics of Pipo (and of course, Minko and MJF), are all very precious! Now most of my pics of the dark faces of Dalton and Benji are done outside and that natural light helps a lot.

  8. Saxon is over the top handsome! His friend Oscar is a cutie pie!

    Right now I have 3 very dark faces to take pictures of, it does get hard sometimes.
    When I had Minko, still, it was awfully hard to take them together, cause Minko was a light blue colour and Pipo is seal point. Like you say, natural bright light is a big helpo. However I only have a P & S camera, (Canon sx40),, so its a bit harder to capture good images. Lately I have just been using my phone, cause its handy and bothers Pipo a lot less than the real camera. Not sure why, he just is shy I guess. I do not use flash…

    • Maybe you can use a small reflector to add a little bit of gentle light to the darker fur? Even a sheet of white paper might help.

  9. What a great photo of Saxon. The mom sometimes struggles to take good pictures of me. Happy Gotcha Day to Silver and Miranda! ~Ernie

  10. Oh I love your pictures! They are all wonderful!

    You asked if I could add share buttons to the post I did for thankful thursday so you could share the auction. I dont know why I dont already have those! But there are share buttons on the auction site itself, perhaps you could share from the bid summary post until I can figure out how to change it elsewhere? And thank you thank you so much for wanting to share and help!

  11. Great picture of handsome Saxon. He did pose nicely, and you did a great job capturing the moment, Marjorie! Oh, and hooray for him and his new humans. That’s so exciting that he will go home in the new year.

    Happy 7th Gotcha Day, Silver and Miranda!


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