Beginner Cat Photo Skills

Tips for Stunning Black and White Cat Photos

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).

Tuxedo cat in black and white
Teddy ISO 200 100 mm (zoom lens) f5

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!

Tuxedo cat photo in black and white
Black and White Transformation

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.

A picture of Dash Kitten cream coloured cat

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.

lampost photograph not a cat in sight

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.

The change from colour to black and white makes clouds satnd out

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.

  1. Duplicate your photo as a second layer**
  2. To make sure I defined Jynx’s eyes accurately I zoomed close (Cmd/Ctrl -/+) so that the eyes filled the screen.
  3. I used the Lasoo to outline the eye shape as carefully as I could
  4. 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.

a touch of colour for a black and white tabby cat
Colour Pop Jynx

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.

15 thoughts on “Tips for Stunning Black and White Cat Photos”

  1. Love black and white photography! The pictures really pop! (Of course you have some beautiful models there!) I love how it does really neutralize a busy background. Great tips! Pinning to share!

    Reply
  2. I love black and white photography and need to start doing it also with photos of Layla, thanks for the reminder

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  3. I have edited many photos to black & white. Sometimes they turn out very dramatic I love your tip about the clouds in black & white – I have tons of pics like that, I’ll have to convert some to black & white. I’ve tried color on eyes, but it’s so hard! Dash looks so cute in his portrait!

    Reply
  4. Excellent tutorial on black and white photos! These photos are absolutely beautiful! The photo of Jynx with green eyes is definitely an award-winning photo.

    I love black and white photos. They always seem to bring a sense of sophistication to any photo. Then when it has an unexpected pop of color, like Jynx’s photo, it’s just beyond dazzling! I would LOVE to have a great black-and-white photo of Henry with a pop of color, which I suppose would be his red collar. I’ll have to work on that one. Once again, you’ve given me inspiration! Thank you!

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  5. Gorgeous black and white photos! I especially like the last one, the portrait with the touch of green in the eyes! Snazzy!

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  6. I sometimes turn an image to B & W to see if that makes it look better, and like you say, it often does!
    Thanks for all the tips!

    Reply
  7. Black and white photographs can be a wonderful thing to do as well as a great exercise in composition and contrast.

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  8. I love black and white photos, especially for candid or emotional moments! How lucky we are now to be able to make the choice when we edit instead of loading up the camera.

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  9. The black and white images did look a lot sharper. However, I felt that the seascape with the clouds looked better in color. Then we could see the blue sky and that it wasn’t a dreary day (like today in the Chicago area)! I have not taken photos in black and white. Seems like it would be interesting to try.

    Reply
  10. I love black and white images when they tend to show ’emotion’ in a picture. It’s amazing how beautiful they can be! Great tips – and I will study this as I set out for my photoshoot next week.

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  11. Lovely photos! I’m a big fan of black and white photos, although I admit I don’t showcase them very often on my blog or associated social media platforms. Perhaps I’ll have to change that and share more black and white images of my boys.

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  12. B&W is becoming one of our favourite ways to present images. You have some great examples there for us this week, too. I do think there is so much more to see when we look at life from the slightly different angle, or as they say, in a different light.
    Appreciative B&W purrs
    ERin

    Reply
  13. We do like the black and white look of things! Oops, I forgot to join the hop this morning…will do it now.

    Reply

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