If you’re a beginner cat photographer, have you considered trying black and white? It can add a whole new dimension to your pictures and people will be surprised by how amazing your photos look.
- As a how-to project I am including a how to using the colour pop technique to make small parts of your photos stand out in colour against your black and white image.
Why Black and White Photographs?
Regular readers will remember that I wanted to channel my enthusiasm for photography to make sure I use my camera well. I have also worked my way through a really good digital photography class, and an exciting smartphone photography course which have been a lot of fun.
Strong Shapes Win in Monochrome
Teddy the Tuxedo Cat
There is a subtle change in the photographs here that show the power of simple strong shapes. Teddy jumped up on the fence and was intent on something I could not see. I grabbed my camera knowing he would not be distracted and captured a great shot of his intense look. Thankfully my 55-250 mm zoom was up to the job although I did have to support my camera lens as I zoomed in (something I know you will find you need to do as well).
I was able to adjust the settings in Affinity Photo using the black and white filter settings and you will find that removing colour is easy to do whatever your photo editing program. You may even want to dodge your cat a bit to help it stand out from the background. Oh and if you type ‘didge’ and burn you will not be alone, it’s my favourite typo!
Removing Colour May Surprise You
These two images of Dash Kitten, our blog Founder Cat are from 2007. The pictures are not sharp but they effectively demonstrate how taking away a clashing colour can transform a picture.
The burgundy insulated curtain is practical in winter but clashes with Dash’s golden sandy coat and the effect is not one I really like. Check out the black and white photo below to see how removing the colour allows attention to centre completely on Dash himself.
Skies Look Better Too
The last images are a visual change. Here the focus is on sky and also on simplicity. This is the small pier at Eastbourne across the harbour from Wellington City. The bench and lamp post are strong shapes with an interesting cloudscape beyond them.
Photographers who specialise in black and white will always look for strong cloudscapes as these add real drama to a picture. Here the clouds sweeping off into the distance are an almost abstract pattern that blend with the distant hills. It would be easy to tinker with your sky for ages in black and white (or even use something like Photoshop or Affinity Photo to change your sky altogether) bu keeping this low skill and brief I just tinkered with the sky I have.
It was difficult to try using the Rule of Thirds here to divide the picture into three planes or areas. The Rule of Thirds is sort of being ignred as the photo looks cool as it is. , but the horizon is low giving the sky plenty of attention.
Bonus Black and White to Colour Pop How-To
Black and hite can be really effective but sometimes a cheeky touch of coour can raise a smile or impress your friends.
My prject sample is Jynx from Neko Ngeru Cat Cafe cafe. If you have a simple portrait of your own it will be perfect for this very short how-to.
Jynx The Tabby Cat Model
Jynx is a lovely tabby and white cat who settled into my local cat cafe’s environment quickly and made plenty of friends. He also posed very well for a cat. Needless to say he has been adopted and is not in his forever home.
I managed to get plenty of cute photos as Jynx settled in but wanted to show you this one because it is black and white and in portrait format. Holding a DSLR camera upright is not the natural way for you to hold a camera (try it and see, it feels a bit weird), but this can give you a different look for your cat photo. It’s a bit easier for a smartphone, so try that if it feels more comfortable for you as a camera user.
How To Add Green Eye Colour
Most photo apps and programs have something called a Lasoo or Freehand Selection Tool and this is the tool you use to create this effect. Your program might have a different name and you can usually find it by checking your manual or doing an online search.
- Duplicate your photo as a second layer**
- To make sure I defined Jynx’s eyes accurately I zoomed close (Cmd/Ctrl -/+) so that the eyes filled the screen.
- I used the Lasoo to outline the eye shape as carefully as I could
- Then I selected the Fill (Flood) tool to fill the boundary of the area I had drawn.
You may need to try it a few times if you have not done this before but keep trying and be amazed by the fun effect you get.
Crop or Not?
This is a portrait format photograph which is a little bit different from the standard rectangle people often find comfortable to use. I am discoveriing a subject lower down in the frame is an effect I really like but I’d be interested to hear your opinions on the less than standard portrait approach I use here.
Black and White and You
Have you ever tried black and white pictures? How did they turn out?
How To Duplicate a Photo
Most software has several ways for you to duplicate an image so you can experiment with black and white photography. For a quick exploration using this project use something quick and easy.