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.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.