Written by Marjorie Dawson

The Power of Light Helps You Take Better Cat Pictures

The Power of Light Helps You Take Better Cat Pictures

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Welcome to Day 2 of Take Better Cat Pictures course with Dash Kitten.

Yesterday, I asked you to get to know your camera, because knowing what you can and can’t do with your camera will help you take better pictures with more confidence.

Today we look at how light helps you take great pictures.

Today we look at:

The Power of Light

People worry when they see “exposure” in their settings and photographers speaking about F-stops. Don’t worry, as a beginner I encourage you to use what you have. Natural light is your friend so never be afraid when people mention light. You have it, its all around you!

As you explore and learn more, you will be able to manipulate your camera’ settings to create your own magic. You might even use small lights or a detachable flash but, for now, a tip:

  • Don’t overthink yourself and get tangled up in worry, simply enjoy the journey.

Without light, you wouldn’t take pictures and as you take lots of photographs you will learn what strength of light works for you and your cat or other pet, and what doesn’t.

Sydney from Neko Ngeru

Light is Life for the Beginner Photographer

Check out the photograph of Sydney (above).

The magic comes from the fact that it is angled upwards in a dramatic way, and the strong sunlight casts strong black shadows. The look is spectacular. The light makes such a dramatic statement.

  • The picture was taken with a smartphone and not edited at all.
Cat peeping at the camera looking curious
Harvey peeping at the camera

The picture of Harvey (above) our senior cat, was taken in bright natural light. He looks at me and I aimed to capture a bright and curious look.

I could have used photo software (Affinity Photo, GIMP) to brighten the shadows of his face (see Dodge and Burn) but as you see it, I do not feel I need to do much to enhance a successful candid shot.

Natural Light

As a beginner or novice picture taker don’t be concerned about fancy lights or professional set-ups. Use natural light as much as you can. You will be surprised how many wonderful pictures you will take just relaxing and enjoying your pet.

  • Remember – bright light can be sunshine or reflected light from snow and this does the work of a dozen lights.
Pet Parade 280 Photographing Inky the Black Cat

Black Pet Fur 101

The most important thing to remember about taking photographs of black pets is:

  • Use natural light
  • Get the right light of the eye to shine

The eye light adds a touch of magic you cannot replace in any pet photo. A cat or dog, a rabbit or reptile has a glimmer in the eye that shows life and soul.

Black fur absorbs so much light that it can be tough to see if you have been successful, even if you have taken time to try the right settings. It’s a throw of the dice but the gamble can be a success as the pictures of Sydney and Inky show.

Explore Your Own Environment

I hope after this that you will not be worried about light and that you will use what you have to take some wonderful pictures.

I know that you will take lots of ‘so so’ photographs but for every dozen of these, you will capture one you really like.

  • Check out Day 1 – Know Your Device here.
  • Check Day 3 – Your Pet here.
  • Check Day 4 – Check The Magic of Software here.

Lights – Supplementary Information

I have not covered electric light in this section but if you have a restricted light source, there are some inexpensive ring lights that can help. Look for a light that is adjustable so you can brighten or dim the strength of the lamp to suit your home environment.

Marjorie Dawson

Marjorie is a motorbike riding blogger and award winning cat photographer who believes that everyone can shoot and edit wonderful pictures they love regardless of the camera they use.

She is a Professional member of the Cat Writers Association, Kuykendall Image Award winner and published photographer at the Guardian newspaper.

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8 thoughts on “The Power of Light Helps You Take Better Cat Pictures”

  1. I always try and take my raw dog food pictures outside in natural light. Sometimes I’m stuck with my kitchen light – usually when it’s crappy outside or it’s nighttime, and I remember that I wanted to take a picture of a particular meal, lol.

    The pictures I take inside without natural light never come out as well as the ones taken with natural light do!

  2. I remember at one of the BlogPaws going to a photography session and the lady said to get good pictures of black cats, use a dark background. I just don’t see that. Your picture of Inky is at least partly so wonderful because of the contrast between the light background and dark fur. I got a flash to bounce off the ceiling or walls, but I’m too intimidated to try it.

  3. Great and engaging post. Love black cat photo’s, but any well taken and illuminated really make me smile.

  4. I mostly try to use a diffused bright light, such as what I get inside on a very sunny day. Else the shadows seem too harsh, and make Pipo seem not himself. Once I had a red flag nearby, 2 actually, and he had a red tint…Oops.
    Its doubly hard to get good pics of Dalton, because his face is very dark, but he has a white underbody…
    So I tend to take oodles of pics, to get one nice one…but with digital that is OK. I like to save my bad ones to see how I ‘messed up’ so I can learn from them.

    I do have a point & shoot camera, with both auto and manual functionality…and an old 5s iPhone, which is nothing at all like the 6s…

    And yes, the eyes make or break the image:)
    Thanks for the tips!

  5. Natural light is the best! Great tips about pets with black fur. I get lots of practice with Gracie and Ava, and many of the PAWS cats. 🙂

  6. Yes, light is so important, we do like the natural light. Hey, did you see Summer’s Mum got a new studio light the other day, it was pretty cool.


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