Just before Christmas my wife and I welcomed a new member to our family. No, not a baby. Not another new lens either – I’m not that far gone I’d consider a lens a new member of our family, not yet anyway. Courtesy of my sister-in-law’s cat, who had a litter back in November, we were given a little boy kitten a week before Christmas day. We’ve named him Freddie.
He’s settling in much faster than Rambow and Zelda did when we adopted them back in May. Even Cookie, our first cat and one notoriously bad at accepting animals, or people, or generally anyone who isn’t me or my wife, has warmed to him quicker than she did to the other two. I guess she must be getting used to this by now. Not that she looks particularly happy about this new development in her domestic arrangements.
I’ve discovered the best time to photograph our cats is just before their dinner. That way I can stand in the kitchen with their full attention for a little while, and they won’t get bored and wander off. The first time I tried this, I made use of just the light in the kitchen, which is not that much at dinnertime in winter so I had to make use of some really high ISOs.
Still, the plan worked, and I got this shot of Freddie letting me know he was hungry.
This was immediately followed by what looked like a well-seasoned sad face.
Freddie definitely seems far too good at the kitten sad face. Here, in my wife’s arms, he seems to make suggestion that he’d rather be elsewhere. His purr undid his ruse.
The day after I took my low-light kitchen shots, I decided to have another go, this time attaching a soft box to my 430EX flashgun on top of my camera to soften the flash and get some hopefully semi-natural looking light. It certainly took the hardness off of the landscape-oriented shots, although the light does perhaps look a little flat. Here’s that sad face again.
The big light source of the soft box did have the benefit of lighting up his eyes.
As I often have to when I shoot with flash as the primary light source, I had the camera on manual mode. For whatever reason (and possibly my own idiocy, to be fair) despite having a flashgun atop the camera, in any of the semi-auto modes (such as aperture priority which I usually shoot at) the camera still sets the exposure as if there wasn’t a flash, resulting in a stupidly long shutter speed. So, I set to manual and a little trial and error later I decided on some settings that got decent results.
Don’t worry, I do have some images where my leg isn’t in shot.
Where the soft box came really good was whenever I shifted into portrait. This offset the flash to the side of the camera making the lighting a bit more interesting.
This is probably a good time to point out, if you’re a regular reader, that this is the first time that the newly refurbished kitchen I’ve mentioned in several previous posts has finally been pictured on this blog.
This would also probably be a good time to give an update on Rambow and Zelda, the kittens we adopted back in May that were last seen in July roaming free for the first time. Rambow is now probably just a smidge bigger than Cookie, despite being only ten months old. He has an insatiable stomach like you won’t believe, which is why he looks so grumpy in this photo that is delaying him from his dinner.
Zelda is a bit smaller than Rambow and Cookie, and despite being mostly well behaved and with a normal appetite she still gets her face in the human food sometimes.
She also has her seasoned grumpy face that could be seen as a kitten on the first time they went outside.
They both are strangely obsessed with oaty cereals; they’ll chew through the packaging to get to it. They also stole some unfrosted cupcakes yesterday and have chewed their way into chocolate bars (even those safely in backpacks), crisps, biscuits, and just about anything that has plastic packaging. They both, after some initial trepidation, have really taken a shine to Freddie, and are often playing with him, or bathing him. The sight of one of them pinning Freddie down to lick his head is I presume the feline equivalent of a noogie. I never seems to happen when I have my camera around, of course.
Cookie, meanwhile, is still Cookie – she hates everyone apart from me and my wife. She grew to tolerate, and even dare I say, get on with, Rambow and Zelda, although this has taken a step backwards when Freddie arrived. That said she’s already getting better around him, and isn’t punching him in the face anywhere near as often as she used to.
Freddie, meanwhile, has taken a shine to me, nicely balancing out the family with Cookie and Rambow ‘preferring’ Holly and Zelda and Freddie me. Anyway, this post is ostensibly supposed to be about Freddie, so I’m going to shut up for a bit and show off some of these other shots of him, all taken on the same day with the soft box flash.
I think he’s hungry…
Freddie has proven himself to be the quintessential cute kitten, often seen in the sorts of poses that adorn many a LOLcat picture. Sooner or later I’ll actually be able to capture one of these moments with my camera. Although in my defence on a lot of those occasions he’s asleep on me or attacking a hand or foot. He has a vicious set of claws and teeth on him, that kitten.
Yes, him. Don’t let the cute exterior fool you.
Rambow and Zelda’s First Excursion