Eyes. I’ll say it again. Eyes. This is the soul of the photograph. My dog Nellie was uncanny in her ability to blink as the camera flash fired. Absolutely uncanny, shot after shot with eyes closed. My cats do not look at the camera. They ignore me. The camera moves. It positions itself in front of their face. Voila! You would think it’s easy. Ha ha. Do I make everything seem easy? Two shots to the green and one putt and you’re in.
I shoot a lot of cat shots. I walk around the house and find them where they are and put the lens in front of their face. We take multiple shots in the hope that one will be good. I edit. Done. We have eight cats again/now. Try and find them, and then photograph… ha! It’s a neat trick. Location finder, I need a location finder!
Mo mo a play on no mo’ had a rocky start. I got clawed and bit – bad. Blood was lost… my bad, I scared him as I tried to catch him and put him in the bathroom for his safety. He’s totally gentle and loving when he’s calm. Tille our other black cat was on double secret probation for a period. I was seriously thinking Mo was not going to catch on in our household. Then he climbed into my lap…
Shooting a convincing portrait of a cat is all about the eyes. You gotta have sharp focus. And the cat has to be looking at you, directly into the camera lens. Try it. Cats don’t follow instructions very well. And a new scared cat….? But the effort is worth the while… it comes down to try and try till you succeed.
Mo had his bio listed in the various places and even the local community newspaper without anyone taking any bit of interest. Imagine!? A cat this cute got no response? His picture is worth a proverbial thousand words. As I said, he climbed into my lap and purred….
You can pretty much tell who’s reluctant. Not much you can do. Smile! No one does it on demand. Mostly the sisters are reluctant at best. So? What can you do? I close my eyes and press the shutter. I hope for the best. And usually it is not. But the documentation is another year gone by. It’s good to be here. And each passing year is more and more precious. Eh? And… the middle (age wise) sister is in the middle.
I wanted to use “multiply redundant.” I’m not sure it’s a term or whether I made it up. The internet is not quite vague.
Portrait. Group shot. Summertime. Reunion. Colleen’s family has come to the beach annually for many many years. It is an opportunity for group shots. It is a bit easier than herding cats though all are reluctant. They are fortunately good humored about it. Redundant? Shoot early and often. Someone is always looking the other way, not smiling, got their eyes closed, or…. You take a bunch of shots and hope for a “good” one. One shot? If you take one shot, you have pretty much closed off a lot of options. It is a juggling act. The camera settings, light, focus, composition…. I got/get about 30 seconds to get a proper shot. You would think it’s magic. The come on? I share out pics to the family and they certainly appreciate the gesture. I think? To be sure they did not have on their “Sunday best” when I gathered them together. At least they all look like they know each other.
Seriously, I sigh. With passing years these group shots become ever more precious. I regret the paucity of shots with my two brothers.
How do you get a good family shot? Mostly people freeze up and are self-conscious as soon as they see me pick up the camera. We see Noa infrequently. When we do I have a camera in hand continuously from greeting till we say “bye.” There is no self-conscious. I am just continuously shooting. Sometimes it works. It sure did this time.
Posing immediately places pressure on your subject. They are obligated to perform. Simultaneously get three subject to pose? Oh my! But there are moments of happiness and if you are lucky it translated onto your camera sensor. I still consider it luck to draw out smiles and to get three in synch is nearly a miracle. But I never give up trying.
Cat’s outta the bag. Feather is my favorite. I have seven cats in the house. She likes me best. She likes me better than any of the others. So?! I gotta like her back. No way around it. Colleen swears she has been my cat all along. No jealousy. It’s just so. So, I like Feather.
She’s my best cat. The others don’t know.
As I have said in the past, cats don’t pose. They may sometimes stare at you. Expression? Smile? Emote? Ha! The trick? Point the camera straight into their eyes. Ah! The lens is directly on line with their gaze. It makes it appear they are paying attention to you. Ha ha! It lasts but a moment. So, shoot fast and shoot often. I got it! … my best cat!
I am Feather’s. I am her human. She, is, my cat. Colleen swears it. I do not deny it. We all got our favorites. (Fortunately I have only one wife.) I am “dead ham” for that thought. But seriously, I did not choose Feather. She chose me in the pet store when she sank her kitten claws into me and said I’m coming home with you.
We got a serious relationship with unconditional love. I have to give her medication. It’s liquid. She sees me coming and hides. She holds it in her mouth to spit back out as soon as I let her go. She comes and climbs on me to sit and purr forever in my lap. She forgives me when I “wallow” her. yes, she is a special cat.
Her sister is identical. I can’t tell them apart looking at their faces. I know them by their paws. I know them by their purring when either sits on my lap. Feather has a special place she has claimed. She is in my lap.
Yes, yes, I love my wife. That’s another story.
Commentary: The images? I shoot the cats with whatever camera is at hand when they are posing. They don’t pose on demand. I see them together. Or not. I focus on the eyes. A portrait is no good without good eye focus. There are exceptions. Sure. But it all starts with the eyes. And no, it is not Feather peeking at me from the corner of her eye.
We all got a favorite shirt. I am fashionably retro wearing a favorite “golf” shirt over and over. I don’t golf. It’s just a “style” of shirt. Jane must love this checked shirt. I have seen her wear it before. It has a retro look for me recalling bygone decades. Is the shirt new or old? Memory? My distinct memory of this shirt? Jane has no air conditioning in her house. It was about 90 degrees with 100% humidity and she was sitting in her living room with sweat dripping down her temple to the collar of this shirt…. We bought her a window air conditioner shortly after…
It’s a nice picture. Happy smiles. Sisters. The shirt triggers memories unseen here and a backstory unique in my own thoughts. Ponder…pondering? Is it the memory or the highlights? There is so much more to it all.
At this time of the year I am flowers or cats. Otherwise our daily routine is pretty ordinary. I rotate four camera near at hand. One camera sits on my desk – clouds, passersby, sunrise/sunset – waiting for images to jump onto the memory card. The other cameras get into play as the need arises to meet the situation. Macro is mostly for flowers. Otherwise the zoom helps me compose a shot and eliminate extraneous distraction. Seven cats = plenty of distraction.
It is hard to corral cats. They don’t sit too often. And closed eyes does not a photo make. This particular evening five cats were sitting still. One was asleep, another half asleep, and a third was on the move. Two, my usually most active cats, were just sitting, finally exhausted from the day’s antics. I got in close pointed the lens and zoomed in for their close-ups. Hey! It’s not easy getting a cat to look at you. I’m boring. They know it.