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Cat photography

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Presented at the American Pets Alive No-Kill Conference 2014.

Published in: Lifestyle
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Cat photography

  1. 1. Cat Photography Coaxing The Best From Our Feline Friends By Bernie Lofaso
  2. 2. Presentation Overview ● Goals ● Challenges To Good Photography ● Equipment Selection ● Shooting Techniques ● After The Shoot
  3. 3. Inspiration ● Inspiration came from One Picture Saves a Life presentation. (Seth Casteel – Nov. 2013) ● Main premise is that a single good photo of a shelter animal can generate the interest to get it adopted and hence it's life saved. ● Presentation assertions include: – Present animal in a happy relaxed environment – A face shot capturing expression is “the money shot”
  4. 4. Goals of a Good Photograph ● Composition – at least one close-up face shot exhibiting “character”. At least one full-body shot to give a feel for cat's size and markings. ● Image quality – Good focus, particularly facial features – No blur from camera movement or animal movement ● Present a cheerful cat and in a happy environment
  5. 5. Challenges To Good Photography ● Poor lighting ● Subject motion ● Confined spaces (photographer and subject)
  6. 6. Equipment Selection ● A range of camera types are available – Cell phone cameras – “Point and shoot” pocket cameras – DSLR cameras – Mirror-less cameras – Other changeable-lens cameras ● See addendum for justification for using DSLR (large-sensor type) camera.
  7. 7. Typical Pocket Camera Image
  8. 8. Typical DSLR Camera Image
  9. 9. Use What You Have ● A cat in foster without photos is not “in the system.” ● A cat in facility without photos is not fully marketed. ● Realize the correct equipment takes it “to the next level.” ● Recruit volunteers with good equipment and train ALL photographers in best practices.
  10. 10. Flash is Evil ● Flash gives uneven lighting that drops off quickly beyond the foreground object ● Cats seldom pose and never wait for flash to recharge ● Causes strange eye colors or closed eyes ● Takes external equipment to do well ● Small external lights often help
  11. 11. Lighting Option
  12. 12. Camera-Related Suggestions ● Use continuous focus mode if available ● Turn off “lighting optimizer” modes ● Turn on highlight preserving mode if available ● Use large image size, JPEG quality normal ● Camera's printed manual often incomplete – download PDF from manufacturer
  13. 13. General Tips ● ALWAYS bring pencil & paper for cat names ● Bring a stick toy, treats, catnip ● Shoot with someone – cat wrangler ● Where appropriate clothing go to get down to eye level with a cat ● Avoid compositions with cage bars ● Shoot ~6-12 photos per cat. More if active.
  14. 14. Prioritize Shooting ● Often difficult to tell how cooperative a cat will be, so shoot in worst conditions first, then move (hopefully) to better conditions. 1) Shoot in cage (laying, sitting, standing) 2) Holding (cat wrangler required), over shoulder 3) Roaming in group cage or “meet and greet” room
  15. 15. Running A Special Event Shoot ● “Special Event” might be monthly shoot for fosters, or themed event for promotions. ● Use backdrop and table. Corners may make cat feel safer and keep from wandering. ● Let kitty “decompress” before shoving a camera in his/her face. Brush/groom time. ● Multiple tables if ringworm kitties shot. ● Can shoot multiple photographers per table if one or more use telephoto lenses.
  16. 16. Photo Post-processing ● Photo editing software – PhotoShop and PhotoShop Elements preferred. – Picasa, Gimp, IrfanView, Pixlr (Chrome browser) or Snapseed (iPad) may prove suitable. ● Don't let Photoshop products intimidate – only about 12 functions used commonly ● Noise-removal plug-in often valuable ● Select three images per cat for processing
  17. 17. Photo Post-processing ● Cropping is the single most important function – Focuses attention and reduces distracting elements. – Crop to cat or cat's face - maximize “cat pixels.” – Body shots often have enough pixels to be cropped down to face shots. ● Limit image height to 1000 pixels. PetPoint resizes to 360x240 (0.08 MP)
  18. 18. Photo Post-processing ● Perform post-mortem analysis of poor photos. Want to know what might have gone wrong so mistake isn't duplicated on next shoot. – Incorrect camera setting – Camera shake – Unexpected cat movement – Too close to cat. Each lens has a minimum focus distance!
  19. 19. Typical Costs ● Camera body and kit zoom lens - $400-500 ● Second “fast” lens - $100 > ● Backup battery - $15 ● Carrying case - $30 > ● Memory card - $20 ● Photoshop Elements - $60
  20. 20. Conclusion Don't listen to Qtila … shoot lots!!!

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