Cats Are Fun to Photograph (Dec, 1951)

Cat’s are still fun to photograph. They’re even more fun with a caption though.

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Cats Are Fun to Photograph

An expert reveals tricks that help you get good pictures of Tabby. Patience is the biggest requirement.

By Walter Chandoha

CATS are easy to photograph—if you can tap an unlimited supply of patience. Beyond that, all you need is a camera (I prefer a reflex) with flash attachment. An assistant, portrait lenses, a tripod and a flash extension are helpful, but by no means essential.

The best place to work is a spot the cat likes best and the best time is just after he has eaten. When the cat gets down to the business of washing, you can start clicking. Set up your equipment beforehand and keep backgrounds plain. If the cat happens to like a spot in front of a cluttered background, stretch a sheet behind him.

Make silly noises to get Tabby’s attention: miaowing, barking, hissing, squeaking, crumpling paper, or whatever you think might work. If the cat is uncooperative, a morsel of shrimp, liver, catnip, ground beef or sardines will bring him around. Shoot while he is looking for more.

You can use flood or daylight, but I favor flash bulbs. Their strong light enables you to use a small aperture and a high shutter speed—both requisites for getting good pictures.

An aperture of f/22 will give you sufficient depth of field so that any slight error in focus will automatically be corrected. And if your focus is right on the nose (you should take that literally—focus on the nose and whiskers rather than on the eyes) you’ll get an over-all sharpness that is desirable. As for shutter speed, remember that the closer you get to a moving object the faster your shutter will have to be. Working about three feet from a cat, I find that 1/250 second stops all but the fastest motion.

9 comments
  1. Blurgle says: May 27, 20073:21 pm

    Im in ur Popular Science
    bein all cute and evrythin

  2. [...] Anche oggi, i gatti sono sempre divertenti da fotografare http://blog.modernmecha… [...]

  3. latente says: May 28, 20073:31 am
  4. grantbob says: May 28, 20076:57 am

    About the captions: http://www.xkcd.com/c26…

  5. Charlie says: May 28, 200710:07 am

    grantbob: That’s awesome!

  6. Brendan says: May 31, 20071:26 am

    One does what one must.

  7. Charlie says: May 31, 20079:48 am

    Brendan: Excellent!

  8. [...] LOLcats were everywhere you turned, the folks at Scientific American published information on photographing cats in their December, 1931 issue. Learn what early photographers did for good LOLcat images in the days before the GIMP and [...]

  9. Robert Traina says: November 19, 20077:37 pm

    Walter Chandoha, still in the picture-taking business after all these years.
    http://chandohaphotogra…

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