There are some things I just can’t let happen without photographing. One of them seems to be the first time any of our cats leaves the house. I wasn’t really a photographer back when Cookie had her first trips, but I took a lot of shots when Rambow and Zelda first explored the outside world, so of course I was ready, camera in hand, when the newest edition to our family Freddie took his first steps outside.
Well, ‘steps’ might be the wrong word in this case. Because we’d spent several days with the window open before we let him go out, he was a little less timid when we finally let him out free so it wasn’t long before he was balling about like the crazy kitten he is.
I did have a bit of a problem, however. Freddie’s trip out came only a couple of days after I’d accidentally made a very half-arsed attempt at filleting my own thumb with a small serrated knife, so my hand looked like this:
I’m left-handed, so although I successfully punctured my right hand, ultimately photography is a multi-handed pastime so there was no getting away without using it. So I just plonked myself on the grass and let the kittens run around me.
Well, I say kittens. Really Freddie is a kitten, Rambow and Zelda are now technically cats. But then, Cookie is seven years old now and she’ll always be a kitten in our hearts.
I’ve not really shown much of Rambow and Zelda since they were little, but they were running around with Freddie and got themselves photographed quite a bit too. They’re a bit bigger than they used to be.
I’m getting a bit practised at photographing my cats at this point, and am getting better at capturing them in photogenic poses. Most of the time.
Unfortunately, Rambow and Zelda’s dark fur on their faces means that when they’re in strong sunlight it looks like they’re frowning.
And it’s made even worse when they are actually frowning a bit. This does not look like a cat you want to get on the wrong side of.
As we’re getting towards summer, at times the light was a bit harsh, but it was still often soft enough that when I got Freddie backlit his fur was lit up lovely:
Whenever the opposite happened, and Freddie was front lit by our local star, I had to do a bit of playing about with contrasts and colour balance to bring out the details.
What’s stunning to me is the different in auto exposure time between shooting against the sun and with my back to the sun. I was shooting in Aperture Priority as I usually do, and shooting with the sun behind Freddie the camera picked 1/320th; in the full light 1/2500th. I knew there’d be a difference, but not that much of one. For the most part I shot at 320 ISO to ensure then Freddie stepped into the darker patches I could still get him with a short enough shutter speed. Which is fortunate, because he seemed keen to perform some interesting poses. Like invisible karate.
Of course, for the other cats this is all old hat by now.
That is, except for Cookie, who was still very weary of Freddie at the time and didn’t want to come out and play. She’s since improved a bit, but will still whack him if he gets too close when she’s not in the mood. Since she’s alpha kitty, however, this is her prerogative.
That last one is definitely going to have to go on the wall at some point.
For the most part, however, I managed to get some pretty decent shots of three quarters of my cats.
Given Freddie’s furriness I wanted to get some decent shots of him backlit, since that is how most furry kitties seem to be photographed these days. Fortunately Freddie was happy to oblige.
Well, not always happy about it.
That’s Freddie for you, however. He is a very vocal kitten so you can often photograph him with his mouth open. Sometimes it looks like a cheesy grin, but others time it looks like it does above, like he’s possessed by an evil spirit.
Fortunately, he soon started walking towards me, holding my gaze. I got down low in the grass to try to frame some nice foreground and shot away.
The latter is already the lock screen on my phone. I love the bokeh of the background and his face is nicely lit without being blown out. His whiskers are still a tiny bit lopsided but not as much as they were when he was younger.
Soon he plonked his butt down in the grass making for another classic sort of shot.
Not that he can sit still for long.
A few days later, the kittens were out again. This time I decided to use my macro lens, mainly because I was trying to photograph a ladybird I saw on a leaf who managed to sneak off whilst I was fetching camera and swapping lenses. It allowed me to shoot at a bigger aperture and a prime lens which I’ve not done in a little while. I even managed to get a shot of Cookie. Not looking happy, of course, that would be a bit much to ask.
For reasons I still haven’t figured out, there is a sharpness to my macro lens that I don’t really see in any of my other lenses.
Meanwhile, Zelda had snuck off into the grounds of the adjacent warehouse, and when I started photographing her she played up to the camera in a brazen attempt to court my favour.
Whilst Freddie snuck off to play in the car park…
… Zelda decided to climb a tree for another photo opportunity.
She also gave me a decent pose as she climbed down.
I’m beginning to suspect I get a bit carried away when I photograph my cats. But then, when they’re being so cooperative and the light is so right, who wouldn’t?
Rambow & Zelda’s First Excursion